I’m taking a class that is stretching every fiber, tendon, bone, vessel in my body entitled “Pens Up, Fears Down.” We were assigned to write a short story using three words we randomly picked from a bag. I haven’t attempted to write a short story in a long time but was thrilled with the challenge. Here is “A Proposition”:
I’ve just returned to the house after running errands and start putting away everything from his grocery list: apples, bananas, chicken breasts, broccoli spears, oatmeal, almond milk and his one vice: thick loaves of French bread. I spill apples on the kitchen island and quickly pile them in the mauve fruit bowl. I fish a water bottle out of my purse and take a long swallow.
There is a nook with a pillowed bench nestled underneath a tall and expansive bay window. I sit there and unhook the clasp of my leather-bound journal. I begin to jot down things I wish I had the courage to say aloud. After a while, I snap it shut. I go upstairs, gripping the wooden railing with one hand and his dry cleaning with the other. I hang the shirts up in the guest room.
I tiptoe into the bathroom, as if anyone is home to be disturbed by a heavy footstep. I strip off my clothes, leaving my heap of sale rack wears on the heated floor. I perch on the edge of the clawfoot tub, watching it fill up before pouring the Mango Butter Bath Oil into the water. I like the alternating cool and warm streams of air disrupting my bare skin. I pour two capfuls and ease myself in, relishing the luxury and the silence.
About forty-five minutes later, I grab a lavender towel and wrap it around my body, cinching it at my chest. I peer down, admiring how the color compliments my skin. If he could only see me, I think, pleased at the image I was conjuring up. I lift the stopper and watch remnants of me swirl and disappear down the drain. I spray a cleanser over the porcelain, rinse the tub, and wipe it dry. I focus on my reflection in the mirror and turn my face, inspecting my chin and jaw line. I could use a facial. I shrug my shoulders, grab a body butter from a woven basket and massage it onto my skin, letting it seep into my pores.
Once fully dry, I set off for the closet. It would be a haven for any fashionista. Swaths of fabric and color delight and overwhelm me. I finally choose the floral print summer dress with the flouncy skirt, cotton blend and Italian silk. I slip it over my head and watch it settle over the curves and angles. I twirl over and over again, catching my reflection in the full-length mirror at each turn.
I know I am daring to stay a little longer this time. But a single thought persists, feeding my tunnel vision: I belong here…with him. I hear a creaking sound which stops me mid-spin, my reverie interrupted. I put everything back in its place methodically, with deft movements I’ve perfected over the last two years. Jogging down the steps with the laundry basket and used towel in tow, I realize paranoia has gotten the best of me. No one is here. I shove the linens and detergent in the washer and start a new cycle.
“Hi.” I’m back here in the laundry room!” I call out. He appears in the doorway.
“I have a proposition for you.”
My eyes widen, filled with anticipation and longing. “Yes?”
“What would you think of increasing your hours Monday through Thursday and in return, we give you Fridays off?”
“That works for me. Thanks, Gabe!”
“It’s settled then. See you tomorrow! Oh, and tell Michael I said hello. I am sure he will appreciate having his wife home on Fridays.”
“I think so, too. See you tomorrow.”
Can you guess the three words I was tasked to use? Comment below. I hope this encourages you to take a leap and write a piece in a genre that is uncomfortable or new to you.