Some of you may know I play a little thing over on Anna Spargo Ryan’s Blog called Flash Fiction. The prompt this week was: “They ate grapes together under the fog of afternoon.”
Here it is:
Of all the types of fog, afternoon fog was the worst.
Morning fog was kind of expected, and was somehow deliciously painful. Morning fog could bring with it a pain like a knitting needle to the temple, or a dull burning of the intestines. It married with a mouth that felt full of breadcrumbs, and a tongue one and a half times it’s normal size. But morning fog had a smell of repentance to it, and with that, re-birth.
Evening fog was to be coveted. It was light and fizzy and full of promise. Evening fog was the gauzy beginnings of a fun night ahead. The slight blurring of reality that came with the fog was welcome, as it buffed his sharp edges, made him more interesting and outgoing and helped him fit.
Afternoon fog was the worst. It held hands with an overwhelming fatigue that made his steps heavy and slow. It smelt of shame and denial and furtiveness. He knew his eyes would be shifty, and she would try not to notice, but she would, and they would scream at each other. And that would only make the fog clot.
She had set up a makeshift picnic on the balcony to welcome him home. A sense of celebration, now that he was no longer drinking. She had laid out the bright yellow tablecloth of hope and prayer, with a platter of strawberries and grapes and water crackers and brie. He sat down next to her and she smiled at him, her face a moon of optimism, and he knew he couldn’t tell her. Not today.
So he fought the fog, and tried to feel as sober as the atomic strength mints he always had pushed hard into his cheek. She moved the platter forward toward him and just looking at the over-ripe strawberries, on their way to liquid, and the dried edges of the brie, made the hot bile sear the back of his throat. She must have been sitting her a while.
He swallowed hard, and tried to relax his jaw muscles, reaching for a grape, fighting away the fog of two vodkas at lunch that had become seven. She smiled again, wider this time. She really did want to believe him, believe in him, even when she knew she was holding onto the balloon of a lie that would either deflate or burst, depending on how she nurtured it.
He forced is own marriage-dependent smile, and they ate grapes together under the fog of afternoon.