This is a ‘one-pager’ that we do alot for exercises in my writing group. As mentioned in the Short and Sweet post it’s just a sketch. The idea was to write a piece using only one syllable words.
He sat back in his chair and played at calm. He clenched the stem of the pipe in his teeth and puffed but the pipe had gone out. He stared at the ash in the bowl and looked at the clock. He reached for a match but the bell rang. She was here. Not yet time but she was here. He jumped up, went for the door but he still had the pipe. He went back and set it down, swept a hand through his hair, sighed.
She came through the door one step at a time, like a shy deer at a pool. Her hair was still long, still dark but now there was a thin streak of white. She saw him look and brushed it back but he shook his head. It’s not what you think.
“I’m glad you came,” was all he said, took her coat. “Thank you.”
She just gave a nod and looked around. Yet, she walked in. The smell of pipe smoke still hung in the air. Her head came up to sniff. He thought once more of the deer. He hung the coat on the rack and placed a hand on the small of her back walked her all the way in. She saw all the food and stopped.
“What’s all this?”
“I cooked,” he rushed forth, pulled back a chair, but she just crossed her arms. “Please, sit.”
“You said a drink. This is too much.”
“It’s no big deal.”
“No,” she said, arms still crossed, “I mean it is too much. I just ate.”
“Oh, I see,” he said. “Well we can still sit. We can talk.”
“Talk? What’s left to say.”
“Who knows?” he said and held out his hand to the chair. “I thought I had said it all but I was a fool. That much is clear at last. At least to me.”
She shrugged and sat and he joined her. He looked at all the food but there was no way he could eat. He looked at her, her set jaw, and sighed.
“There are things you have to hear…no,” he stopped. “That’s not quite right. Things I have to say, I think. If you’ll let me.” He stopped, and now leaned back. Can she know how hard this is? He thought.
And then he heard his voice in his head clear as a bell. Why don’t you tell her?
“Ah…this is hard,” he said, his chest tight, voice soft and now she was the one to sigh.
“Why don’t we start with the drinks?” she said.
“Of course,” he said, “how could it slip my mind?”
He stood and went to the board and there was the clink of glass on glass. Her eyes slipped from his stooped back to the door. Why was she here? Much of her knew she should go but more of her thought she should stay, at least for a while. When she turned he was there.
“I think you’ll like this,” he said. “How does port sound?”
She stared, eyes wide, the glass was dark as coal and the ink could not be read for it was quite old. Still she knew what it said.
“Is this…from his stock?” her voice held doubt though it was right there to see. “I thought…”
“It was all gone? So did I. There’s more. So much I should have seen. I’d like to share it with you. Please.”
Tears filled her eyes and one spilled, gleamed on her cheek, her chin. Then she smiled and the tear fell. “Just pour,” she said.
He did as she bid and they both drank. It was strong and danced on their tongues, full of notes. The port went down smooth. It was a good year. It had stood the test of time.