TROPHIES

Beth heard the front door and her aerobic high drained, coming to with a thud. He moved through the hall and she sensed his uneasy deliberation, the grim countenance as he leaned in the doorway watching her at work in the kitchen.
‘Do you want toast?’ she ventured, reaching for the grill pan, placing it on top of the stove and stepping back in readiness, she felt the flat of his hand against the back of her head and then the fist. She went down as far as her knees and cowered, unaware that he had turned away.
The low full moon shone through the window, lighting the front of the house. Beth could see his reflection in the glass. Framed, he paced. Checking the time by the clock on the wall, each time turning, making again for the window and peering beyond his own image. She wondered what he could see until at last he needed to be forgiven.
‘I’m sorry!’
She stood at the sink, hands gripping the washing up bowl, knuckles showing white.
‘Just leave me alone.’ It was all she could manage from between clenched teeth. She sensed his move to touch her and jerked from the contact. Her anger welled up and with it a release. She shook the bowl causing its contents to rattle discordantly, the plates, and the mugs unused and the dry bread untoasted. At last he left.
Alone she felt strangely calm. Wandering the house the carpet beneath her feet felt dirty but she resisted the urge to vacuum, to clean and bathe. She drew back all the closed curtains and switched on all the lights.
In the spare bedroom she brushed aside cobwebs in order to sift through the remnants of her own and his past life. His trophies on their shelf were cluttered and untidy. Pursing her lips she blew onto the silver making holes in the dust.
She separated the trophies – Athletics on one side – Darts and Pool on the other. He had a trophy for winning a pub quiz and another for simply taking part in a pub quiz. Beth placed these front and centre, pride of place.
Below the trophies were her books, abandoned from childhood and school, text, exercise and stories jumbled. Beth pulled a book at random. ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. She settled herself on the unmade bed and began to read.
The upstairs walls shook, bringing her back, the familiar thud of the front door. She had reached the part where Edmund visits the White Witch’s house and, under her influence, he betrays Aslan and the others. She marked her place and switched off the light, laying back on the coverless bed, letting the house glare.
Sign of the Times-70 Image by Christine Renney

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15 comments

  1. Miranda Stone

    There’s a painful sense of hopelessness here on the part of the narrator, a resignation to the life she has. The ending is particularly poignant, when she revisits the relics of her childhood, which are placed below her husband’s trophies, as if she will always take second place to his needs. You do a great job of pulling the reader into the narrator’s world–describing how the carpet feels dirty under her feet, the dust on the trophies. Great writing here, Mark. Spare and powerful.

  2. field of thorns

    Mark, always excellent! I felt like I was in the house with Beth. You have a way of capturing moments and thoughts that we don’t share with the rest of the world, down to the finest details. It’s such a pleasure to read your work, fantastic, bleak and thought provoking. You always leave me thinking about your characters once the narrative is over, thank you for that!

    Take care,
    Pepper

    • markrenney2

      I know my writing is often intense and not to everyone’s liking so when I do receive comments like yours it is much appreciated. Thank you. Regards Mark.

  3. j.h. white

    Funny…I thought I’d commented on this one Mark. It was just the dialogue in my head after reading it, I guess. You ended it perfectly… ‘letting the house glare. What a line …. but it’s still an emotional stalemate.

    You are so good at immersing us in these moments. With this one though, since it is so literal, I wanted a twist. Not a resolution, though…a twist to open the claustrophobia. Something with ‘Markness” written all over it. You know I love your writing…xxoo

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