I’ve started writing fiction again, finally. So I’ve decided to post a short story every Friday on this blog. I hope you enjoy today’s story.
When lightning hit Milly McGreggit, she was standing in her pink kitchen washing dishes. She didn’t see it coming. She had no warning. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash. When she awoke, she was lying on the floor in front of the refrigerator. Her ears rang, high pitched and constant. She lifted her head to look around and nothing looked out of the ordinary. She got up. Her clothes were singed and suddenly seemed restrictive, like they were holding her in. She took them off and finished washing the dishes.
Milly’s husband, Walter, knew something was wrong as soon as he came home. The air smelled like an electrical fire. He sniffed and followed the smell to the kitchen. He was shocked to see his wife sitting at the kitchen table drinking a glass of red wine. This wasn’t the shocking part. The shocking part was that she was naked. Slouched in the chair with her legs crossed, her breasts almost hung down to her navel.
“You’re home early,” Milly said. She curled her lips into a smile.
Walter immediately thought about the Viagra in the medicine cabinet upstairs. He’d gotten the prescription a year ago and had only used it once. Milly was quite frigid. She always buttoned all of the buttons on her blouses and would change her clothes in the bathroom or walk in closet, out of sight. In the forty-six years they’d been married, Walter could count the number of times he’d seen her naked on one hand.
The one time Walter did take the Viagra, he got dizzy, passed out in the bathroom and hit his head on the sink. He awoke wearing an oxygen mask with two EMT’s staring down at him. He did have an erection though, and in his delirious state, pointed that out to the young men before they loaded him into the ambulance.
Undeterred, Walter was considering running upstairs and popping a little blue pill into his mouth now. He would make sure he was lying down when he did to avoid the concussion.
“You’re naked,” he finally managed to say.
“So?” she responded defensively.
“No, I like it.”
She furrowed her brow trying to figure out what secret meaning that phrase could have.
Walter walked toward her in his white shorts and Hawaiian shirt. His rubber-soled sandals squeaked on the tile floor. He had come from a day of golfing and could tell that his ever-growing nose was quite burnt on the end. He grazed the end of it with his hand and it stung. He reached out to touch Milly and she flinched, nearly falling off of the chair.
“Don’t do that!” she yelled. Milly never yelled. Not at their son when he broke her favorite vase or dirtied up the freshly mopped floor. Not at Walter the times he came home too late or didn’t come home at all. Not even at the dog when it messed on the carpet or chewed up her favorite shoes. The dog died and their son moved to Canada, but Walter was still here and Milly was yelling now.
She got up, knocked back her glass of wine and tossed it into the sink. The glass shattered. She walked out of the kitchen. Walter followed her. His eyes focused on her jiggling behind, indented with a square pattern from the woven wicker chair she had been sitting on.
“Don’t do that!” she yelled again. She waved her arms as she spoke.
Walter assumed that she was talking to him because there was no one else for her to be talking to, but he couldn’t for the life of him figure out what he had done. He followed her down the hall that led past the living room to the front door.
Milly hadn’t lost her senses, she only seemed like she had. That’s why she paused before opening the door to go outside. She hadn’t lost her senses at all. In fact, she felt like she had more sense now than she had ever had. She was tired of being buttoned up and held in. She wanted to be free. She wanted to go outside.
When Walter tried to stop her by grabbing her shoulder, she pushed him away. He fell backwards, his balance not being what it used to, and hit his head on the door jam. Great another concussion, he thought. After that first one, Walter was quick to yell concussion. Like the time he took a tennis ball to the face when his friend Jack was teaching him how to play. The ball wasn’t going that fast when it hit him, but Walter was tired and didn’t want to finish a game he was losing. A concussion was as good a way out as any.
Milly walked out onto the lawn, sagging breasts, jiggling bottom, wispy triangle of gray pubic hair, out for the world to see. The sun was setting. Liz was mowing her lawn. Her daughters were supposed to do it, but she hadn’t seen them all day and it needed to be done. She turned off the lawn mower and rushed over to help Milly back inside. Before Liz could reach her, Milly fell to the ground. She lay on her back in the prickly St. Augustine grass and looked at the sky– all orange and purple. When Liz and Walter stood over her, blocking her view, she waved her hand for them to move.
“What’s wrong with her?” Liz asked Walter.
“Don’t know. I think she’s lost her marbles,” Walter replied.
Figuring that the cars parked along the curb blocked anyone else’s view of her from the street, Liz and Walter followed Milly’s orders and stepped aside. Walter tried to look down Liz’s V neck t-shirt to catch a peek at her cleavage. He always did this when he talked to Liz. His wife’s crazed behavior didn’t change that.
“I always wondered what it would be like,” Milly said. She wasn’t talking to anyone in particular—just talking.
“What?” Walter asked.
“Freedom,” Milly answered. She always answered Walter’s questions the best she could. The sky started to darken. A tear slid down the side of her face to the grass. She closed her eyes—the taste of wine still on her tongue and the smell of smoke in her hair.