23 March 2010

Magpie Tales #6...Helen and Rose



The nails have spilled again. Helen feels her feet shrinking away from them as she navigates the floor. Their sharp points rise threateningly. She reaches down and picks one up. His hammer is lying on the bench, the picture frame on the ground, glass shattered. She picks it up tenderly. The picture is still in the frame. She arranges it against the wall.

There is a nail there already, bent in on itself where a stray blow has ruined the perfection. She tugs it out with the claw of the hammer. It falls into her palm and she deposits it in her pocket. She swings back the hammer and taps a new nail into the wall. One is enough.

Helen stretches on tiptoes, leaning over the bench to hang the picture. She steps back to admire it. There is a small stain on the faux gold frame. She rubs at it. It flakes a little, but the ornate surface is pitted with nooks.

She lopes into the house and returns with a moist cloth. She dabs at the stain. It is almost gone now. She looks at the white cloth, now discoloured with red. She starts to cry.

*****

'It was the drinking,' Rose says. 'His hand slipped. I never thought a picture frame would be heavy enough.'

'No.'

Helen's monosyllabic answer doesn't seem to deter her best friend. She hooks an arm around her shoulder. 'It was a small cut, not much blood. He was drunk anyway. It wasn't anything you did, you know,' Rose glances at her for affirmation.

'I know.'

As Rose steers her back to the car, Helen can't help a last look at the grave. It is covered in white flowers. As she watches, a red stain seeps among them, just like the blood that pooled around his head.

She pictures his face as he missed the nail, turning toward her slightly angry, not denying anything. Her hands tremble as she remembers the frame clutched in them. Holding it high, slamming it down. It falling and the glass shattering. The vodka bottle she recycled, the smell of bleach after she cleaned the floor.

Rose glances toward the grave when she notices Helen crying again. She looks at the sea of white flowers. She smiles slightly as she remembers the man who said he loved her. Now no one will know about their affair.

*****

The next day Helen and Rose have coffee in the little cafe by the square. Helen sombrely slides an envelope across the table.
Rose opens it and her eyes widen. She touches her wedding ring briefly and opens her purse.

**************************************
Next week I will try to defer from the recent horror/murder theme.

5 comments:

Brian Miller said...

oh yeah...loved how you ended this...wow. great magpie!

steviewren said...

Your sins will find you out....Love the references to the white flowers and the stain of red.

joanny said...

A murder chiller thriller -- Hitchcock style--

Good one.

Joanny

spacedlaw said...

Most excellent!

chiccoreal said...

Aiofe: It's always the best friend! The suspense builds slowly and then the climax. the return of the ring (probably found in her husband's coat, under the bed or left on his night table or worse yet, the bathroom!). Excellent suspense and surprise ending.