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X. Round Table Reading Lounge > Vignette - Irons

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message 1: by Alice (last edited Sep 16, 2010 01:43AM) (new)

Alice Yeh (stimulatedoutlet) | 58 comments I ran the iron back and forth against the fabric. Pulled. Stretched. Straightened. Cursed at stubborn wrinkles while spraying them to high heaven with water. Yes, plenty of water, but no starch. Moses never liked it, after all. "Too stiff," he would say, pulling at his collar with one hand and tugging at the hem with the other. "Feels weird."

I would roll my eyes as I slipped a tie around his neck. He always pretended to choke while I wrapped the silk over and around itself, tightened it into a full Windsor. The dimple was always perfectly centered. I wondered if it would be centered today.

The shirt creased as the iron ran over it. Drat. It shouldn’t be so hard to do something this mundane! There were still three hours, but it had to be flawless. No wrinkles, no folds – just smooth white fabric with silver cufflinks that were shaped like sea otters. Sea otters! His request took me hours upon hours to fulfill, scouring the internet in an endless search. At least it kept me busy. I wanted more things to do.

“You’re being silly,” he would often tell me, tracing the back of my hand with his fingertips. “Cheer up. Smile!”

Cheering never actually happened. I would force a smile and tell him, “I’ll be fine.” That was a mantra, after all: I’ll be fine. But I wasn’t.

The chill was curling over my skin, soaking into my pores to freeze the blood below. I wondered – if I touched the iron now, would I feel it? I didn’t seem to react to stimuli anymore. A bell would ring, the sun would beat down and I would ignore both as I sat on a bench and waited. I always waited. What was I waiting for?

I finished ironing the shirt, hung it up next to the charcoal suit and the red tie. His favorite. There were plenty of others, but he had insisted.

I asked him once, “Why is it your favorite? Why this tie?”

He never told me. He just gave a secretive smile and then found something to distract himself with. Right, distractions. Distractions are nice.

The telephone rings, and I walk to the kitchen to answer it. “Hello?”

“Are you finished yet?”

I nodded, though nobody else was home. “Yes.”

“Good. I’m coming over.” The line went dead.

As I wrapped Moses’ clothing in a garment bag, my hands trembled. I was stringing my heart on that hanger, zipping it up and locking it in. I’ll be fine, I repeated, I’ll be fine.

The doorbell rang, and I rose to meet my visitor. He held his hand out for the item in my hand. I wanted to protest, to hold it against my chest and pretend that Moses didn’t need this suit today. My guest patted my cheek and pulled the clothes away from me. I felt exposed. Raw. Not quite right.

As he drove off, I sank to the floor and cried. I would see him again at the service, of course. How handsome he would look! But I couldn’t appreciate that right now. It seemed so wrong to worry about appearances when they won’t make a lick of difference.

They say that no parents should outlive their children. No one cares when the children are the ones left behind.

(C)2010 Alice Yi-Li Yeh


message 2: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Barrett (booksandartpamela_barrett) | 60 comments Wonderfully written. ;-)


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