Saturday, April 23, 2016

Happy Earth Day

"Happy Earth Day," he said.

She didn't respond. Not surprising. She was washing the coffee pot--excuse me!--the French Press Pot, so much more than a coffee pot. She was washing the French Press Pot, ramming every stray coffee ground--kernel? crumb? coffee bean shard?--whatever--through the mesh of the screen, the particles she couldn't lift out with the long nail on her little finger. She kept it long expressly for that purpose.
To clear a coffee pot?

A French Press Pot filter screen.

He didn't care, really didn't care, and more importantly didn't want to know the details of her manicure. She was intense--part of the attraction he had to admit, that gift she had for zeroing in, looking right at you, into you, through you. Nobody had ever looked at him like that. And with those eyes. What color were they? Brown? No, something more than brown. There was a light, a brilliance, in her eyes that warmed and pierced at the same time. He loved that, but now they were examining every millimeter of a fine mesh screen with as much interest, he had to admit, as she might turn to him.

"The earth looks good, don't you think?"

Eyes still on the filter screen.

"Today. Earth Day."

She was rinsing the screen, shaking it dry, lining up the cross plate, the filter, the spiral plate, screwing them back on the plunger, drying the pot, reassembling it. He knew she wouldn't speak until one job was done, completed, fini--and the shining pot back on the shelf, in its final resting place--no multi-tasker, that woman.

Then....he never knew what would come next....her cup to scrub or would she swivel to him now, with some comment or correction about the earth?

No, her hands were wet. She stared out the window as she dried each hand, finger by finger--perhaps her intensity did allow for two actions--looking out a window as she dried her hands. Then she folded the towel, hung it up, turned, those dark eyes glowing--more than usual? An extra flash? Hard to be sure.

"You are what looks good," she said, and came for him, only one thing on her mind.

© 2016 Kathleen Coskran

Thursday, April 21, 2016


         She was stuck. Wedged between the sofa and the damn end table that he insisted jamming into the corner of the room, where there wasn’t room. “The space is too small,” she’d said.

“I can make it fit,” he said. His attitude about everything. Making it fit. Making it work. Making do. So he’d pushed the table into the corner and then wedged the sofa, their new, just purchased, just delivered, after three months on Layaway, rose-colored sofa with tendrils of green laced around each pillow, wedged that exquisite new sofa into the table and caught the other side in the door frame.

“That baby’s not going anywhere now,” he had said and stepped back to admire his work.

She'd pointed out that the fit was so tight that one leg of the sofa floated an inch above the carpet. He said it would settle—which it did in only a month or so. Her weight alone wouldn’t “settle” it and, those first months, every time she sat down, she felt the slow lowering, like a tire going flat.

So, now, a year later, the sofa was in there, not going anywhere as he had said and, now, neither was she.

She’d sat there after her bath, to put her watch back on, the earrings and the bracelet. It was the bracelet, the gold chain bracelet, 24 carat gold, not 18, but 24!—that got away. She didn’t notice that she had missed the clasp entirely and when she moved her arm, it slid off, between the sofa and the end table.

Which caught it. When she stuck her finger down to pull up the bracelet, she made a hole in the seal between sofa and table that was just enough for the bracelet to slip through. Gone.

She should have looked under the table first, or tried to pull out the sofa or waited for him to come home. She did none of those things. She thrust her arm between sofa and table, thrust it like an arrow that flew true—she could feel the bracelet with her fingers which were now numb. Soon she wouldn’t feel anything.

    She'd spent a few futile moments trying to drag the arm out, but her elbow caught, and she was stuck. Really stuck. 

The minutes passed. She remembered the guy wedged in a Colorado canyon who hacked off his arm. “Well, I don’t have a knife,” she said. She tried to lie down with her head on the table and torso on the sofa. Couldn’t get comfortable.

That’s how he found her, hours later, sprawled between the sofa and the table, talking to herself, complaining, crying.

“What’s for dinner?” he said as he walked past her to the kitchen.

That’s when her thinking switched from how to extricate her arm to executing his slow, protracted, exquisite torture.

© 2016 Kathleen Coskran

Friday, April 8, 2016

Rain Garden

It was raining, really raining now, fat drops and enough wind to rustle the trees. If she closed her eyes, she would still know it was raining—drop, splat, rustle, rumble. The earth was doing what the earth does. No advice from her. No need.
The wind picked up and the song shifted—urgent now. The sound of water rushing out the gutters, down the sidewalk, into the street. Water wasted. She should have put in a rain garden. She knew that. Tomorrow.
Tomorrow when it's not raining, in the early morning before the sun is high in the sky. She’ll get a shovel and begin. 
Does she even have a shovel? 
Maybe he took the shovel—shovels. They had two. Maybe he took both shovels, thinking she’d never use them. Which she never had. But now. Well, now she’d use a shovel. She closed her eyes and imagined the weight of a shovel in her hand, heavy at one end. She could swing it and dig with it.
Swing it? She opened her eyes because she was thinking of swinging the shovel in the house, spinning around and around, hitting everything he didn’t take, everything he didn’t want, everything not good enough to take. She imagined herself in the middle of the house swinging a shovel that she might no longer own.
It was three days since she had come home from work and found him gone. Funny phrase. How can you find something that isn’t there? Discovered that he’d cleared out. All his clothes, half of everything else, sheets, towels, glasses. She now had service for 6. He’d insisted on Wedgwood; she hadn’t cared. But he took all the sharp knives, didn’t even leave a paring knife. You’re clumsy, he’d said a million times. I’ll do that. And take the knife from her hand.
But the shovel. She hadn’t checked the garden shed. It was still raining, still thundering, but she had to know. The shed was locked. She dashed back to the house, got the key, dashed across the yard, unlocked the door, ducked in. It was raining harder now. She let the door slam behind her. She fumbled for the string for the overhead light, pulled it on, blinked in the sudden illumination, held her breath. The shovels were there, both of them, and the rake, a hoe, a spade, the watering can, a spray attachment for the hose, tomato cages, the wheel barrel propped against the wall, exactly as they had been, unchanged, unravaged, intact, whole, the only space he didn’t empty.
The tears came quickly. She didn’t care. She took the shovel and went back to the yard. It was raining in earnest now, sharp drops that stung. She began digging where the rainspout gushed water, making a place for all that water to collect, water to feed the roots of the garden she’d plant as soon as the hole was dug and her mind was clear. Water, like tears, needed somewhere to go.

© 2016 Kathleen Coskran