Christmas of 2009 I was given 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' by Raymond Carver, and inspired by that book in march of 2010 I sat down and wrote a very short story that I decided to call 'A Beautiful Disappointment'. You can still find the original on the Explore Auburnville Facebook page. I had only been writing a matter of months at that point, most of the feedback was positive and ever since I have had a soft spot for that piece. Recently I decided that I wanted to post that story on this blog. I wrestled with the idea of giving the original a quick copy and paste and a new home, but settled on the decision to rework it and this is the new version, at this point I cannot say which I like more. I'm sure you will let me know, enjoy.
They’d stopped talking. Well, he had. She’d continued with her excuses, flexing her flawed logic as only she could. He’d been holding the orange since the conversation had started, and twice he’d considered throwing it at her, but in truth he’d always been more of a spinner than a pace man, so he just sat there at the table.
The juice spurted as he dug his thumb nail through its skin; the fragrance of it hit his nose at almost the same time. The smell always reminded him of Christmas as a boy.
He started to remove the peel with precision and control, almost lovingly, as he slid his thumb between its flesh and the skin. He remembered a time when his thumb had moved as easily between her skin and her dress-strap - she had wanted him then.
With a silent satisfaction - he could tell this skin was going to come off in one - he continued to manipulate it and the spiral of textured orange skin grew longer. He gently folded the skin and rested it on the table next to his coffee.
‘Why do you always do that?’ She smiled. ‘There’s a bin behind you! Are you ignoring me now…? Please Peter we need to talk about this.’
She was still talking at him, as he stared at this naked beauty in his hand. Gently he started removing the pith, strand by strand. He thought of her white lace underwear on their wedding night. He carefully tore the orange in pieces and placed one half next to his coffee on top of its folded skin.
'Peter! Please answer me!'
'What do you expect me to say Trudy, really?' he mumbled as he placed one of the segments in his mouth. He chewed it slowly, growing angry as he did so.
'Saying anything would be a start, at least then I would know what you’re thinking'. She flinches as he stands suddenly startling her. He scrapes the orange, the pith and the skin into his hands, turns and slams it all into the bin, pausing briefly to take in its unwanted contents before allowing the lid to swing closed. Now completely disheartened he replies at last,
'The bloody orange was dry! …What do you expect? I feel let down,' he said, slowly turning to look at his wife again, ‘Utterly disappointed’.
‘I’m sorry’. Said Trudy as tears welled in her eyes again.
‘Well that makes two of us.’
‘I didn’t mean to, it just got out of hand; you’re the last person we would’ve wanted to hurt’, she shakes her head and continues almost to herself. ‘I just don’t know why we did it, please Peter, come home we can work this out. You loved me once, we can take our time I know you hate me now but we can make it work again with time, please!’
‘I don’t hate you Tru’, Peter said with a slight shake of his head, he takes her hand in his. ‘But, I don’t think I can get past this, maybe with time…’ He sits in silence for a while listening to her quietly cry and sniff, weighing in his head all the good times that were and what still might be. ‘Do you want a drink?’ he said at last.
‘Please’, she replied and looked at him like she used to.
(c)Lee Auburn 2010