Monday, January 3, 2011

magpie tales: her gloves, his hands


She enters the room like a cat, nudging the door open, her legs scissoring, heels clicking on the stone tile. He watches her from the couch, already playing out the evening in his head, ending in the bedroom. His eyes rise along her until he meets her face. Peeling the gloves from her hands, letting them fall on the kitchen counter, with a loud smack.

"I am pregnant."

The visions of a romantic evening crumple like paper in the fist of her statement. They had been going out for a year, enjoying a non-committal/committal relationship. Seeing each other nearly every day, but comfortable with going a day or two without. They were good friends, they were more. Hard as he tries to think of something encouraging to say, his thundering heart clogs his throat.

"Well," her tone pleads for a response, cuts him.

He turns his gaze to the television, studying the game he had been watching. He can remember nothing about it up to this point. Everything is a jumble as his mind turns over the ramifications. He was not looking to get married, that was a life killer. He watched friends slowly fade after being married, until no one saw them any more. throw in having a kid and he might as well...

"Aren't you going to say anything?"

He forces his gaze back in her general direction, but looking at her eyes is painful. He knows she can read his thoughts by the blank stare on his face. He tries to smile, tries to act happy, tries to think of anything he can say.

"Okay. What do you want to do about it?" the words explode from his mouth.

"What do I want to do about? You make it sound like I have the flu, Rick."

I am screwed, is all he can think. There is nothing he can say. Red klaxons flash in his mind, beckoning him to find a life raft. The ship is going down. He sits up, putting his face in his hands. Fire courses through his veins under the heat of her gaze, beads of sweat form at his hair line. He wants to leave, to get out of the room. Go to the store. Walk the streets aimlessly. Get hit by a car. Anything but be here, now.

"I knew it. I knew you were going to be just like this. We can't ignore this rick. We are having a baby. I know this was not in the plan, like there ever was a plan. We need to talk about this," she is moving around the counter, coming toward him.

His skin crawls. Honey barbecue corn chips scratch at the back of Rick's throat, attempting to make their own escape. He tries to breath, wheezing. His lips move, but nothing intelligible emerges, only a guttural moan, drawing her up short a few feet in front of him.

"Fine. I am going back to my place. When you decide to grow up, give me a call," peeking between his fingers he watches her heels retreat across the floor, shuddering at the force with which she slams the door.

'Get up go after her', his conscience screams, refrained by 'Are you crazy.'

He runs to the bathroom, vomiting profusely, then stumbles back into his bedroom, collapsing onto his bed, burying his face in the pillows. How did this happen? She was supposed to be on birth control. This was all her fault. She was trying to trap him. How did I even know it is mine?

His apartment is being dismantled, to make it safe for the kid, the entertainment center, with long glass shelves is replaced by a press board piece of junk from one of those big box retailers, his movies are replaced by sing-a-longs with big colorful animals. His leather couch sags where children have jumped on it, even though they have been told not to. Instead of his stylish button up shirt, he is wearing a spit stained sweatshirt to hide the extra twenty pounds he gained.

The trill of his cell phone ringing shatters the flow of images. Raising his head, Rick realises he must have fallen asleep. The clock says it is mid evening. He looks around looking for the phone, anxious that it may be her. Remembering it is in the kitchen, he leaps off the bed, dashing to catch it before it stops ringing.

Grabbing the phone from the counter, he answers, "Hello?"

"Mr. Calloway, I hope you are having a good evening. My name is..."

Thumbing the button to disconnect the call, he places it back on the counter, "Stupid telemarketers."

Before he knows what he is doing, Rick scrolls to her name in his contacts list, Marissa. He catches his finger as it is lowering on the SEND button. What am I doing? What would I even say? He pushes the phone away from him, sliding it across the counter until it stops against her gloves.

Her gloves, she must have left them. He moves around the counter, taking them in his hands. He is surprised at how warm they are. Soft, empty fingers drape around his hand. Salty air. Boards creak beneath their feet. The first time they ever held hands, after their first date, walking along the pier.

Now a little boy, his small hands engulfed in their own, swings between them. His sandy brown hair dances atop his head. The boy has Rick's eyes, but mostly he is Marissa. Beautiful like Marissa. Rick drops the gloves back to the counter, scrolling once again to find her name, when the phone rings.

"Hello," his voice cracks.

"Hi," her voice takes his breath, "Look, I was upset earlier. I know this is hard for you."

"Yes. I..."

"Please, don't interrupt. This is hard enough for me too. I am not really pregnant. I just wanted to see, if you really loved me. I think I got my answer. Don't ever call me again Rick," the click of her disconnect roars in his ears.

He lowers the phone, staring at it. The little boy waves as he continues down the pier. The gloves stare at Rick, like a wild animal. Their crumpled skin seems to smile, mocking him. The phone clatters to the floor, as he snatches the gloves, squeezing, spinning around the apartment as if he is wrestling with them, until he falls onto the couch. . He howls violently, shuddering. They cling to his hands.

Even though they are far too small, he forces his hands into the mouths of her gloves. Seams stretch, then pop as he pushes harder and harder until they are around his hand. They are mere rags compared to what they once were, but they are there. He laughs the laugh of a man that has lost everything, including his mind.

A strange contentment settles on him as he runs a gloved finger along his cheek, tracing trails of tears. Using the remote, he turns off the television and goes to his room. Curling up on the bed he stares at his gloved hands until drifting off to sleep, where he dreams he is a boxer, in the late rounds of a match. He is beat up pretty bad, can barely see out of one eye. He is losing. He knows he can not win.

This is a Magpie Tale.

79 comments:

Daniel said...

Ahhh, the weapons of a sly and cunning female. Beware! (smiles) A nice tale to start the new year.

sage said...

Wow, intense and lots of surprises. I like the way the hands (and gloves) tie it together.

Jinksy said...

Don't know about a sly and cunning female - a weak, lily livered man springs to mind!

Betsy said...

Whoa! Ooooh...didn't see this unfolding at all...which made it even better!

Boom Boom Larew said...

Sometimes the depth of our feelings surprises us! Another Magpie winner, Brian.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I could feel his angst!

Neva Flores said...

Oh Wow! What a story! This is incredible!

Miss Nikki said...

I don't even know how many emotions your story brought me, all I know is I'm glad I read it.

Tara Miller said...

Wow! Your words not only paint the picture but they make me able to feel the emotions of this couple. I'm sure this story is someone's true life story in this world. Nice work, love.

natalee said...

All I can say is ... WOW!!!! I loved that one!!!!!!

Dulce said...

Glad you are so concious of this type of...'problem'?- and then she's got the power- he, so weak.
oh that title you've chosen says so much now that i read it a second time...

Lori said...

Another great story Brian! You are amazing!

Kay said...

A woman that would play such trickery... well, maybe he isn't losing after all....

excellent story

Sh@s said...

Excellent. I could almost see the story moving in front of me like a movie.

5thsister said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Kay. The woman was conniving and deceitful. I was so ready to hate Rick for his callousness and weakness, not manning up to admitting his part in the turn of events. But then you go and turn things upside down and topsy turvy!

Wonderful read as always! You got me good on this one.

annell said...

Wow! Only you could have written this! Happy New Year!

Claudia said...

you know what..? this brought back "timing is everything" from your tape post - if she had waited one more day with calling him, he would've been standing in front of her door with a bunch of flowers, already thinking about a name for the baby... so they both lost..

Jessie said...

i enjoyed this very much. i wasn't sure what direction you were going to go with it. i hope you had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

warm smiles,

The Exception said...

Um – WOW!
I have delivered such news to a man – I wish that he would have chosen one road or the other but he chose not to make a choice – one foot in and one foot out – not wanting a child but not wanting to leave me either… and I wanted him to want the child.

You capture something very true to life and intense in this - your choice of words and the emotion portray in your pros is stunning.

ladyfi said...

Wow - powerful stuff!

Myrna R. said...

This story swirled my emotions. I can sympathize with both characters and get angry at them as well.

Well written!

lori said...

Now I have a new and different place to come for fun diversions! Good job. I felt uncomfortable more than once :)

Grand Pooba said...

tricky tricky!

Liza Ursu said...

Head games, I don't play them well. Now I have that Foreigner song in my head.
Somewhere he knew that she was like that.
Probably why he tossed his cookies.

"crumple like paper in the fist of her statement"
that's a beauty!

rosaria said...

Oh, this leaves me breathless, saddened. How is it that I'm feeling bad for this man, who wants no committments? Nice job.

Helen said...

Powerful ... my sympathies lie with Rick .. no one should ever have to endure trickery of this magnitude. Marissa was the loser.

Bossy Betty said...

Whoa!!! Intense, baby! (no pun intended).

drybottomgirl said...

Wow, I am always amazed at how when something "big" pops up how we as humans instantly see how it pertains to ourselves, not anyone else. This was excellently written, and I wasn't surpised at how it ended. The world of selfishness is a lonely place to be.....

Eva Gallant said...

I am so humbled everytime I read something of yours. That was an excellent piece of writing.

dopey said...

The phrase "don't ask a question you don't want the answer to" springs to mind. Or was she looking for a reason to end the relationship knowing his response? Very good story...

The Retired One said...

What a roller coaster of emotions in this piece Brian! I loved it!!!!
Alone, stands a boxer...(Simon and Garfunkle)comes to mind.

Maggie May said...

Excellent writing that seems to suck the reader deeper in.
He wanted his cake & eat it though.
Not nice. But then she lied......
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Mama Zen said...

This is really intense! And, I totally agree with Kay.

who said...

the next that dude finds a women he likes, he should have someone write him speeches for a few specific situations.

she probably won't even notice whose thoughts he was wearing when he spoke them.

those god damned words

California Girl said...

I didn't see it coming. I was too busy thinking what a wimp asshole Rick is. Terrific story, taut & suspenseful. I am trying to figure out how I feel about her now. On the one hand, I get it that she wants to know but on the other, sneaky way to find out and not honest.

I think they both dodged bullets.

Pastor Sharon said...

That was a roller coaster!

Wow, I forgot to breath until it was over and I realized my chest was hurting!

Great job on this one!

Baino said...

Hmm that was a sort break. Not a nice trick but a good test of commitment nonetheless.

blueviolet said...

Nobody wins in this match.

kaykuala said...

I was spell-bound. You led me along to finish reading everything. It evoked lots of emotions, may even start a battle of the sexes. Excellent story!

nance marie said...

down with the punch

Glenn Buttkus said...

Was the woman a schemer, weak
and conniving? I don't think so.
She has the courage to take a
stand, to clear the air, to test
the waters. He was the man-child,
the one who cannot commit,
the selfish oaf. You summed it
up in the last two lines:
/He is losing. He knows he
cannot win/--and probably
should not. Great tale, well told.

Stafford Ray said...

This story was not from personal experience, so how did you think this one up and make it so real?
:-)

deb said...

Completely awesome, Brian.
I hesitate to read long posts, but yours are always worth it.

secret agent woman said...

I want to feel sorry for the guy, but he lost me with "She was supposed to be on birth control. This was all her fault." No birth control works all the time and if it mattered that much to him he should have used condoms. I say karma kicked his ass.

DJan said...

Well, he was wrong: he reeled back, he took the punch, he learned from it. SHE was the loser in this one. Great scene, Brian, as usual.

Ocean Girl said...

He had missed a lifetime.

ModernMom said...

Ohhh foul play!! (great tale)

Joanie said...

Wow. I didn't see the 'test" coming.

Slamdunk said...

Poor guy. Looks like your audience enjoyed the roller-coaster ride--as I did.

Tracy said...

Ow. Not just a cat but a mountain lion.

Zouxzoux said...

Awesome writing - you really sucked me in.
I think the man's reaction was completely understandable considering the shock of the announcement. Expecting a person to have the reaction YOU want is unrealistic and, given some time, he was coming around. In the end, she is the childish villain for telling such a morally reprehensible lie.

Thanks for visiting my blog and I'm glad we've virtually met. I'll be back.

ninotaziz said...

Dear Brian,
We need to be convinced, even when neck deep in a relationship, that we matter. It seems, the more unique and special we are,l the more we need convincing.

Is this true of men too?

My Magpie deals with demanding relationships set in medieval times.

Happy New Year to you.

Cheers!

Ed Pilolla said...

poor rick! you can really write from inside a man's head, not knowing how to feel, how to react, wanting to reach out and communicate yet hesitant.

Reflections said...

The intensity... the twists... so many directions, the tug and pull of thinking bad of him, then understanding his pain, his fear at the thought... the disdain in her voice at the ending conversation... well done!

TALON said...

I love how you segued the gloves into Rick's dream-state. Loved the pacing...

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Rick learned from that one moment, wait to respond the next time around.

Zuzana said...

Oh my goodness Brian, this one touched something deep within me...
I dislike Marissa with all my heart - I am not sure if I am meant to but I do.;) What a terrible thing to do to a man you are suppose to love... To me real love is unconditional and should never be put to any kid of test and this one was a test of he worst kind.;)
I really LOVED this story though, you had me spellbound from the first sentence.
Have a great day dear Brian.;)
xoxo

Just Be Real said...

Around each corner Brian there is something new lurking. Blessings.

Shadow said...

not a very nice thing to do... but who knows, maybe it was for the best...

Valerie said...

Riveting stuff, Brian. Didn't expect the twist but it was a good tale nevertheless.

Goofball said...

that's a nasty trick she played on him! clearly this couple needed to talk more, but that was not the way to do it. I feel sorry for both

JStar said...

Brian, this sounds like it came from a true story...I like the twist

Jannie Funster said...

WOW -- this is freaking great, Brian.

What a twist with his call to her.

Hope you are well. Apologies for me getting distracted by the holidays and such. I aim for post office this week.

Hope you and yours are well.

xo

TechnoBabe said...

good writing, game playing and pay back and regret to make love to after doing the stupid dance. Ah, good writing.

Mijayami said...

Great story, fantastic writing! Thanks for sharing it with us :)

Sue said...

This took me somewhere. It was a strange place, but I liked the ride.

=)

Alan Burnett said...

You are almost unique in your ability to cram so much into so few words Brian. Whether it is one of your micro pieces or a longer piece like todays, you get so much story, so much meaning, in there. Makes your blog one of my favourite reads my friend - keep it up for 2011.

Sumit Sarkar said...

Very engaging and full of surprises..
If he couldn't say anything to her at that time, that doesn't mean he never loved her. Women never understand this. She may be cunning and he may be weak, but that's not how you define love or check if you would continue to hold onto that person.

I loved reading it :)

Margaret Bednar said...

Perfect Ending! Neither are honorable here. Very well written.

AmyLK said...

that was so unfair of her! he doesn't need her if she's going to be a game player!

Arnab Majumdar said...

Cruel, in some ways. Unfair in some ways. Fair in others.

You got me contradicting myself with this one, Brian!

Magpie said...

Wow! I need to catch my breath. I'm glad I wanted until I had time enough to savor this one. Twisted!

Marla said...

Pretty intense stuff. Manipulation never turns out well.

Syd said...

I don't think that either is grown up or understand what love is about. It certainly isn't lies or lack of compassion. Nice story.

mama-face said...

If there were any doubts that you could and should publish, they are GONE.

(by the way-she's a jerk. He's better off without her).

Finding Words said...

Did NOT see this coming! She is sick... and yet she was right. Hmmm. Ick. and yet... Disturbing.

Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

Ouch! Unusual for the guy to end up being the emotional one and the girl to be the manipulative one. Or, is it just that I never read things that come out this way?

Heidi said...

This is a really bold piece where both characters are flawed and yet I'm moved. Isn't it fascinating how many different responses you've gotten? You took a scenario that had the potential to be cliché, and a male response that one might expect, yet you did it in a fresh and original way. The use of the gloves is particularly well done. I really enjoyed this. Thanks.

purplume said...

Intense, you captured my interest totally. I see it as a statement of how life can't be rushed. Do we want the immediate answer or can we wait for someone to figure out where they are with something complex?