I have pruned orchards, and rows and rows of vines.
Mud on the ladder, frost on the ground. This makes me different somehow.
Cold toes. Orange peels. The bright fur coats of faithful hounds.
Now my pen has wooden handles, with a blade at the end.
In the fog, its voice makes the strangest sound.
November 29, 2020
As It Is Written
After a long day’s work, the writer emerged from his study. You look tired, he said to his wife. Here. Sit down. I’ll make you a sandwich.
The writer’s wife yawned. I’m not hungry, she said.
Not hungry? the writer said. What do you mean, not hungry? You must be hungry. You’ve been working all day, haven’t you? I repeat — sit down, I’ll make you a sandwich.
His wife sat down. Okay, okay, she said. I’m sitting.
The writer left his wife at the table and opened the refrigerator. It was empty. What kind of sandwich would you like? he said cheerfully. How about salami?
Salami is fine, his wife said.
Or would you prefer chicken? he said. I could make you a nice chicken sandwich. How does that sound?
Chicken is fine, too, she said.
Do you want pickles with it? the writer said. Or do you want it plain?
A pickle would be nice. Or plain. It doesn’t matter.
Ah-ha! the writer said suddenly.
Ah-ha? his wife said. What does that mean?
It means, the writer said, that I just found a beautiful casserole. Shall I warm it up and serve it with your sandwich?
Might as well, his wife said. Or I could eat the sandwich, and you could eat the casserole.
Tell you what, he said. I’ll get everything ready, and then we can decide.
Good idea, his wife said. In the meantime, is there anything I can do to help?
No, you just sit there and relax. I’ll take care of everything.
For the next several minutes, the writer was busy in the kitchen. He opened and closed the refrigerator several times, rattled their pots and pans, and turned the water on and off in the sink. Finally, he told his wife that everything was almost ready. I have an idea, he said. Let’s use paper plates. That way we won’t have to wash dishes. Oh. By the way. What kind of wine would you like? Red, or white?
Either is fine, she said.
Unless you’d rather have champagne, he said.
Champagne does sound good, she said.
Great, then. Champagne it is.
The writer got out two paper plates, two napkins, two glasses, and two forks, then put them on the table. There, he said. All set. Now. Are you ready for the feast of a lifetime?
I’m ready, his wife said.
The writer went back to the kitchen. A moment later, he returned. I don’t understand, he said. I just don’t understand.
Don’t understand? his wife said. What don’t you understand?
The food, he said. It’s gone. Someone has stolen our supper.
The writer’s wife held out her hand. That’s all right, she said.
But it’s not all right, he said. I worked hard for that supper. And so did you.
He sat down next to his wife. She gave him a hug. But the writer wouldn’t be comforted. He apologized over and over. Then he said he was through writing, and that he was going to get a real job. You deserve better, he said. Tomorrow, I’ll find something — anything — and this will never happen again.
Exhausted, they went to bed.
When she awakened just before dawn, the writer’s wife was alone. She got out of bed and found her husband in his study, working furiously. When evening came, he was still working. Finally, it was getting late, so she told him to stop. Come on, she said, I’ll make you a sandwich.
The writer looked up from his desk and laughed bitterly. What will you make it out of? he said. Thin air?
No, his wife said. I’m making it out of roast beef. Then she showed her husband a page she had torn from her cookbook. On it was a beautiful picture of a succulent roast with several slices partially cut at one end and juice running onto the plate.
The writer was amazed. I am very impressed, he said. You’ve performed a miracle.
His wife smiled.
A few minutes later, she had everything ready. They sat down to a wonderful meal. There were even leftovers.
No Time to Cut My Hair, Author’s Press Series, Vol. 2, 2009
Story 53 of 70 written in 90 days, 687 words, October 10, 2002
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Tags: Author's Press Series, Books, Diaries, Fiction, Hunger, Journals, Love, Memory, No Time to Cut My Hair, Our Old Farm, Poems, Poetry, Poverty, Pruning, Short Fiction, Short Stories, Work, Writing