Thursday, January 31, 2008
Please check out the other short stories at the blog Jen put together. Thanks Jen this was a great exercise.
I have not written a short story since freshman year in college, you know, back in the stone-age. I have no idea what I am doing but here goes. We were given some guidelines, which I will post at the end of the story. Please feel free to give any feedback.
27 Woodland Lane
He didn’t like it at all. Not one bit. Bob Waters stood in the backyard and wondered what had happened to his house. The glass walls exposed everything.
Bob lingered for a moment watching as Susan ran around the kitchen. He was fond of Susan. She had that same kind of sneak-up-on-you-type beauty as his wife Rose. Bob walked around to the front of the house. The boxy, sleek structure looked out of place among the towering oak and maple trees in the historic section of Greenwich Connecticut. What distressed him even more were his poor rose bushes. They looked horrible. The petals were the color of a polluted river. Susan had been distracted lately with the remodeling but he couldn’t cut her any more slack. The roses were dying. He had to do something.
Susan tried again to snap her barrette shut.
“Mommy said a bad word,” her five-year-old daughter Grace yelled as if no one had heard the first time.
“Don’t worry about Mommy. It’s time for you to go to bed.”
“I want to stay up until dad gets home. Can you read another story?”
“No, it’s past 8:30. Let’s go”
“Noooo, I want to stay up!”
“Grace. I am not telling you again.”
“Look you made Mom mad. You’re a pain,” Jack, age six, said to his sister.
“No, you are a pain!”
“Grace use your inside voice and get upstairs.”
“Yeah Grace,” Jack added.
“You too Jack. Let’s go.”
Finally the kids were down. Susan brought a ’97 Barolo up from the cellar, poured herself a glass and opened the Sunday New York Times. She was getting to it on Thursday, which was a record of sorts. The house was quiet. There was only the soft hum of the refrigerator. Her husband felt for the price they paid for the six-bedroom house it should be completely silent but Susan liked the company.
She was reading the business section, which featured a story about one of her former Wall Street colleagues when her husband, Peter rushed in. In his early 40s, Peter still had the build and good looks of a Division I athlete.
“Hey honey,” Peter said as he gave Susan a quick peck.
“Hey yourself. There’s dinner in the fridge.”
“I already ate in the city.
“Your assistant neglected to mention that this afternoon when she called to go over the guest list for the housewarming. The list is too long.”
“No it’s not,” Peter said gently, waving off the subject. “You won’t believe what Casey did today during a conference all.”
As Peter went on about his day, Susan thought about her typical schedule.
Get kids ready for school.
Drop kids off at school.
Volunteer at school for three hours.
Drop off donated items at Greenwich Junior League thrift shop.
Pick up Peter’s dry cleaning.
Return home. Reheat for lunch dinner from last night that Peter did not eat.
Let Rosalie in. Tell her not to worry about cleaning Peter’s bathroom. She did that yesterday after Grace threw up in there.
Go to supermarket for groceries.
Pick up kids from school.
Drop kids at their play dates.
Update RSVP list for housewarming.
Check email. Delete spam.
Pick up kids from respective play dates.
Try to eat dinner.
Get kids ready for bed.
Sit here and listen to husband talk about bumping into all our friends in the city.
“Are you listening to me?” Peter asked.
“No, I’m not.”
“You are so funny.”
“No, I’m not.”
“The landscaper is coming tomorrow. He’s going to deal with the rose bushes once and for all.”
“Oh. I forgot to prune them.”
“We’re getting rid of them. They don’t fit the house.”
“We can’t. Mr. Waters planted them. I promised his kids we wouldn’t dig them up.”
“You were okay with tearing down old man’s house, but you want to leave his flowers?”
Bob wondered whom Peter was calling an old man? He was a spry 66 when a heart attack killed him. He had walked into the kitchen and had been eavesdropping on their conversation since Peter had come home.
“I think the bushes are beautiful,” said Susan. “It’s sweet he planted them for his wife.”
“Yes, yes it’s very romantic,” said Peter. “But let’s be practical.”
“Oh, you mean like this house?” Susan shot back. “The roses stay.”
“The landscaping has to be finished before the party. Susan, we have to get rid of those nasty rose bushes.”
Bob couldn’t take it anymore. He had planted those bushes after his wife’s accident. He promised her once he retired they would travel and he’d spend more time with the family. She died two weeks after he took the commuter train into the city for the last time. Those bushes were his life the twelve months before his heart attack and he wasn't going to let Peter disparage them. Couldn’t Peter see? Bob used to be like him.
Bob pushed a glass off the counter and it shattered sending shards racing across the tile floor and startling Peter nearly out of his skin.
“I guess Mrs. Waters doesn’t like my idea,” Peter said trying to pretend he wasn’t freaked out.
“Mrs. Waters is not a ghost in this house.” Susan smiled and gave her husband a kiss.
“Ask the landscaper to help you nurse the rose bushes back to health. I’m going upstairs to change. Save me some of that wine.”
Susan picked up a broom and swept up the glass.
“Thanks Mr. Waters.”
“You’re welcome,” Bob said. He knew Susan couldn’t hear him. He ran out to tell the roses the great news.
I drew Soccer Mom in Denial's idea.
A. A ghost visiting his former house. A living couple is gently aruging over how to decorate the house.
B. The ghost lived in the house most of his life, raised his family there and lived alone in it after his beloved wife Rose died. He tended rose bushes in her memory. One partner of the couple wants to make changes now the other isn't in a hurry. The rose bushes haven't been tended to in a while.
C. The ghost overhears someone say "those nasty rose bushes" have to be removed.