Thrice Told

This week, Trifecta celebrates its 33rd weekly challenge. It’s actually three challenges, and it ends at 8AM tomorrow. I’ve been travelling, so posting these has had to wait. That means you’ll be hearing from me three times today (and then I’ll be quiet on Thursday). The first challenge is to respond to the following quotation

“What I tell you three times is true.” — Lewis Carroll.

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Thrice Told

A young mother wore her baby through the airport and pulled two suitcases behind. She was alone.  “My husband died,” she said to the woman beside her in the boarding area.

Her husband quickly joined her then. “Don’t say that.”

They boarded the plane, and the flight attendant flipped the suitcases up overhead. “Do you need any of this to go under the seat?”

The mother adjusted her wrap to buckle her seat belt “No. Thank you for the help with the bags. My husband died.”

Her husband smiled and shook his head. He sat beside his wife. He brushed her ear with his lips and whispered, “Shhh.”

The baby fussed after takeoff, and the mother handed it her cell phone cover. While the baby twisted and bit the rubbery pink plastic, its mother leaned back and closed her eyes. She wept.

A woman asked, “What’s wrong?”

“My husband…”

“No,” said the husband. “Please stop saying that.” He touched his wife’s face with his fingertips. “Please don’t say it ever again.”

“… died”

His body broke into a thousand particles and scattered through the cabin. The passengers gaped at the spray of light that flooded down the aisle and raced from person to person, like a blindingly bright bird looking for escape. Finally, the pieces gathered and floated towards a window. They crossed through and out, vanishing into the clouds and sun.

The wife patted the warm spot in her husband’s now empty seat. She wiped her eyes with a napkin and settled the baby once more on her chest. Her face seemed more haggard now, more tired, and more wrinkled.  But her eyes were only a little red. The cart came and she took crackers. Her body seemed to grow as she ate them, to swell and fill the place formerly occupied by her spouse. It was as if he had been dead for a long time, and she had, in the rising plane, finally managed to let him go.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.

Comments

Thrice Told — 30 Comments

  1. This is beautiful. Creepy, eerie, yet it has its own sort of ethereal beauty to it…very surreal, fantastical story…the reader is left wondering what is really real and what is just a figment of the wife’s imagination, or maybe her husband never really existed at all…very surreal…the reader is left pondering this one and its implications for a long time…

  2. You’re so good! Reading you makes me want to strive even more… Ok. I guess sometimes I’m like “why even try – Jessie is the queen of this story telling” and then I bitch slap myself and keep writing. You’re an inspiration. You’re so friggin awesome! Please don’t ever stop sharing your words.

    • I’m flattered beyond belief! Thank you. Go check out the other people submitting to this thing. So many of them just floored me with their complexity and creativity.

  3. i honestly was expecting it to be the husband not being able to let go. and the end where he was a literal, rather than a metaphorical, phasm made a shiver go up my spine.

  4. Really nice. I loved how insistent she was about him being dead. Forcing him away , forcing herself to burst him. I love it when magic is real and tangible in stories, which I felt this was especially given that the seat was warm after his departure.

  5. That was beautiful! I love how you used the prompt. Every time she said ‘he died,’ it gripped my heart a little tighter. Awesome.

  6. I have to agree with everyone else. One of your best flash fictions lately. So melancholy throughout and then that lovely twist that makes you feel better 🙂 Great metaphor for how grief can cripple us, shrink us, waste us away, if we let it.

    My only critique is calling the baby “it”. Surely you could pick a gender.

    • I had so many pronouns already that I feared another gender would throw things. This was one of those stories where nobody has a name, so I had to kind of compromise about the baby’s gender. But you’re right, it lends an awkward quality to that section.

  7. This is very sad- I sometimes remind myself when my husband gets on my nerves ( only occasionally LOL) that some women are not as blessed to still have theirs around. Thank you for coming to my blog for Sits day it’s funny you used the word “Troll” LOL I have a post about trolls –

  8. This is a great story. I read it twice, not sure how to interpret it. I think she had trouble moving on after his death but clung to the security of his memory. She finally let go. Of course I could be all wrong 🙂

    • That was my interpretation, Janna. I do believe he existed but it took her repetitive communication of the facts to come to terms with her new reality.

  9. That was really enjoyable to read despite the sadness. I like how it caused my thoughts to twist & turn, wondering if she would cause his death, whether he was even there, etc.

  10. Wow. Wow. Wow. This was unreal.

    I thought this was so funny … :

    “My husband died,” she said to the woman beside her in the boarding area.
    Her husband quickly joined her then. “Don’t say that.”

    … until I realized where you were going with this.

    Amazing. Seriously.

    • Thanks Rosemary! I had to rescue you from Spam. Askimet somehow didn’t recognize you. Hopefully now that I have ‘approved you’, it will stop doing that!!! Congrats, by the way!