Annie On Writing

June 22, 2016

Coming Home by Joy Manné

Filed under: Twisted Tales,Writing Tools — Annie Evett @ 9:02 am
Walter scratched and scraped his key in the lock where it rattled in his mottled, shaky hand.

‘Hello, my love, my darling,’ he called as he pushed open the door, forcing his quavery voice into every corner of the large, old-fashioned apartment. He dropped his homburg onto a shelf in the coat cupboard and fussed his long woollen overcoat until it sat smoothly on its varnished mahogany hanger.

‘Be patient, my love. I’ll be with you in a minute.’

He trickled into the toilet and lowered the toilet seat as his wife had taught him. He lathered his hands with her lavender Marseilles soap. He looked with pale blue eyes into the mirror as he rubbed into his thick white hair the gel she had chosen to make it lie flat; he had to write down its name to remember it.

There was a time when drinks were waiting, when they’d walk down the corridor to the living room arm in arm, admiring the paintings they had collected over almost fifty years and hung in the stacked, abundant, old-fashioned way. He might reminisce about a good deal. She might congratulate him on a good choice.

‘I’ll pour drinks, my darling.’

He poured a double from a bottle of Glenlivet off the mahogany drinks trolley, a wedding present fifty-one years ago. Hand quivering, ice rattling, he set his glass a silver coaster on a cherry-wood Noguchi table between facing chintz-covered armchairs. She did not like glasses to stand directly on its plate-glass surface.

‘I’m sorry I’m late,’ He looked at her with devotion from under heavy-lidded eyes. He eased himself into his usual armchair with its back to the view of trees and sky and sipped his scotch, and sipped again, letting the amber liquid warm away the tension in his shoulders and his voice as is eyes stared at, without seeing, a large piece of amber on a stand with a fly fossilised in its centre.

‘Toby brought a new collector—modern English—to the gallery this morning. Good old Toby.’ Walter’s smile lifted his moustaches and the corner of his eyes which sparkled. ‘He invited me for dinner with his family. Toby’ evaluates art better than he does wine. I persuaded him to join me for lunch at the club. We ate endeavour prawns flown in this morning from Australia, and rare Angus beef, roasted as only they know how, and I had your favourite baked apple tart for desert.’ Walter endeavoured another smile, sipped again and waited for more warmth to wind through his prominent blue veins.

‘We prefer to be at home together in the evening, don’t we, my darling?’

‘I’d only just got back to the office before it started to rain. I couldn’t get a taxi in front of the office so I took our largest umbrella and walked round the corner to Covent Garden. It was half an hour before the performance. A stream of taxis was letting people out. I nipped into one of them. ’Walter laughed with his mouth shut, making a Hmmm-Hmmm sound. ‘You were impressed the first time I showed you my little ruse.’ His shoulders shook with silent forced laughter.

He finished his drink.

‘Susan Ryder caught you perfectly,’ he said. ‘I’m so glad we chose her rather than Lucien Freud who would have made a monster of you, or Auerbach who would have pitted and cratered your lovely smooth skin.’ He pushed on armrests to help himself up. ‘She’s caught the sparkle in your eyes, my love, my darling, and their unique colour, between blue and grey.’

In small steps, he walked around the other chair until he stood in front of a portrait and kissed its lips where his mouth had left many traces before.

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2 Comments »

  1. shivery! I like it, Joy Manné.

    Like

    Comment by Anita — June 23, 2016 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

  2. Such a sweet story, and I have to say I’m relieved he was talking to just her portrait!

    Like

    Comment by ganymeder — June 27, 2016 @ 4:47 am | Reply


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