The first thing I notice are the wrinkles, reflected like dark dancers, moving and bending with the contours of my face. Dully reflected in the vase they join hands and circle around my eyes, my tired lips, my forehead, nestled alongside wisps of silver grey.
Stretching out my own hands I imagine that each line holds a secret, more mysterious than fortune, more real than the future.
I refold my napkin and his, into perfect triangles.
Perhaps some wise prophet could read; not my future; my past - from these creases - and yet I wonder if such a thing could ever be interpreted, translated.
I set them in customary place beside our two bowls, dinner warm within.
I know if it ever were the story would be only half written, most of the paths find destination in those of my husband’s wiry hands. Those strong and gentle hands – our lives intertwined with a complexity of memories, hardships, pleasures.
I straighten the cream table cloth, draped over loved and well-worn oak.
Those creases remind me of the sand dunes before we leave slow footprints, the rain-trails down our caravan window, Harold’s shirt before pressing.
I watch him return from the stove balancing our hot tea with a delicate concentration, 51 years familiar.
I wonder if his favourite red shirt actually is fading, or if it is just my eyes, or the candlelight.
He calls me darling and sets down my Earl Grey. I smile.
It does seem as though much outside our dining room is waning in its pastel thrum, and I can almost hear the resonance of grandchildren’s gadgets from here.
Just to announce my thought, the telephone rings. And again. And once more.
Technology whizzes around my ears like an unwanted fly.
He says, like he always does, that we will answer the world later, it’s not going anywhere.
He is right, as usual, and I ponder with amusement that we might be going somewhere sooner. A holiday, perhaps.
I smile and nod in gentle agreement.
Unspoken we bow heads in perfect symmetry and he murmurs blessings, move our hands to a perfect cross.
With a sincere Sunday love, he tells me I am beautiful.
I do not reply with words, I cannot. My voice; gone with the tumour.
Reaching out to hold my hand, he turns it over in his. Rubs my ring. Like he always does.
He says he loves my wrinkles more than when I had smooth, porcelain hands.
One single tear, abashed sneaks from my eye.
He says that every one reminds him of another year together.
He converses with my eyes, and listens. Like he always does.
Our hands meld into one in the soft light.
One flawless map
my first short story!
thanks for taking the time to read... hope you enjoyed :)