“I’ve done something bad,” said Ruby, lying stretched out on the grass underneath the clothes line. She’d been squinting into the sun.
“Hmmmm?” said Lionel, as he bent and scooped another peg from the bag. “How bad?” he asked with a frown as he examined the neck of the shirts.
“Pretty bad,” muttered Ruby, turning on her side and picking at the lawn. She glanced up at Lionel again, trying to read his face.
“It’s got to do with you,” she finished.
The breeze picked up and stirred Lionel’s hair. He wiped his forehead and looked at the washing. There really is something in the snap of a piece of linen, flicked clean and pinched with pegs, he thought. There is something in the scent of wet, clean cloth that smacks of potential and the suggestion of what lies just around the corner. It’s neat. Ordered. Controllable. He sighed inwardly and looked down at Ruby.
“Do tell,” he said.
Ruby glanced away and prepared to speak to the lawn. In six years of marriage she’d never been able to master looking him in the eyes with her truths. She felt her eyes skid and flit, glancing him. Lionel waited. He was good at waiting.
“I’ve had an affair,” she began, taking a breath and faltering, her voice sounding robotic and far away.
There was a feeling like the sound when a stone falls into a pond. A reverberation and the air changed. Ruby felt her mouth go dry as Lionel gave nothing away. She couldn’t see his face clearly above her, framed by the endless empty haunch of blue. Now it was Ruby’s turn to wait. Ruby was no good at waiting.
The linen gave a satisfying crack in the breeze.
Lionel watched the washing circle, responding to the wind. ‘A washing line with neat whites aligned is something special,’ he thought.
Inside he felt the stone sinking into the cool pond depths.
“I know,” was all he said.
Inspired by the" Twisted Tales Washday Blues":http://www.redbubble.com/twisted-tales/forums/1... prompt, but not really enough of a twist, so I’ve kept it out of the comp.