Thursday, 1 January 2015

SmallReads 500 Winner Announced

...Going to be Never

She had been through his sock drawer. Again.
   Up to that point, life was fluttering on - like the draft of some romantic turkey. They had similar tastes, friends in common, went off each other for years then rutted like ferrets all Tuesday morning. She held his hand out shopping, he trekked after her into the foothills. For half a century, they'd saved on rent by living together, plotted the home they'd always build. Kept their own spaces for body & soul: she to Conference, he on outings with the boys. Rather than outflank each other, they preferred to own up and keep up.
   Until the sock drawer. Again.

He shouldn't blame her, not exactly. He hadn't much sympathy either. In one sense, the crime had neither victim nor perp. It wasn't like she'd found his secret stash. The little he had to hide would never have been stuffed in such an obvious place. Anyway, she should have known to leave it as found.
   So she was giving notice? Saying, accept her little peccadillo or just bog off? He would have to chose. Which was going to hurt. He would lose his nerve, panic at departure. There would be embarrassing scenes, hell had no fury and all such rot.
   What else was he to do? Given her history, his drawer was the one place she should never have laid hands on, unsheathing it and fiddling about like she did. A bloke should not be reduced to the hint of his sweaty toes, to the impress of his low down heels. She should have controlled that crazy urge, if she wanted things to go on.

But the bloody phone didn't ring, there was no power cut, not a single pigeon came crashing into the living room window. In fact, nothing disturbed her from knitting a hat for Spring, or him from reading “Of Human Bondage” for the fourteenth time. He was distracted, that was all. He often was. And she was absorbed. He told his thoughts to go away. She was looking as she often did before bed. No point in reacting. But he did. All he had to do was put down the book, arch his back and yawn. She would wink and say, “You go through. I'll just finish these rows”.
   He carried on dragging his eyes across the page. His heart rate was already up when he stole a second glance. She'd had her hair cut shorter than ever. Another sign of ageing? Soon they would both be out of their sixties forever. Her neck strained as she studied the pattern. The hat was for their trip to Paris. The tendons either side of her throat tensed. The skin was crimped and could do with smoothing. It was bring up the bloody drawer now... or never.
   Phew! All that strain for Paris. And Paris was never going to be never. Her throat bobbed as she swallowed hard.
   He put the book down, arched his back and yawned.
trans. Klaus Von Bickerstaff
Always Say Never

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