Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Hard Worker - #fridayflash


Who do you please when the father is gone?
She thought this, watching him plant roses beside the front step. 
He knelt in the black dirt, digging with a steel claw, ripping dandelions out by their straggly roots. He held a particularly long one up for her to admire. It looked like a dew worm. She made a face, for his benefit. His smile said he was grateful for her acknowledgement.
That's all he sought. Acknowledgement. Gratitude.
She sat on a cushioned lawn chair in the gazebo, iced tea with lemon on the table beside her, paperback in her lap. She hadn't opened the book. She was watching him.
He had a face like the statue of David.
Fleshy lips, rounded cheeks, eyes perpetually wide yet blind to human cruelty. Devoid of narcissism, rife with need for kindness. Arms thick with muscle from a lifetime of bitter toil.
It was never enough, the work he did.
And it was never good enough.
He would never stop trying, though. 
She rarely asked him to work and yet it was she that he sought encouragement from.
She bathed him in it, giving him the compliments he so richly deserved. 
Still, he hungered for more.
She wanted to tell him to relax. 
She wanted to say, "He's dead, ok? You don't have to try so hard anymore."
But a wife is no substitute for the void in a man's heart.




22 comments:

  1. Breathtaking, Cathy. Exquisite and perfect story.

    Just might be one of my favorite of yours, and that's saying a lot.

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  2. "eyes perpetually wide yet blind to human cruelty" loved that line. The opening sentence sets the story thrumming right from the get go. It's a brilliant set up that propels the reader right in. Top work.


    Marc Nash

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  3. So my first reaction was to your photo and opening line. Asking that statue, "Who do you please when the father is gone?" He would sweep his abs and exclaim, "All the ladies!"

    Beyond my silliness, this is a good piece, Cathy. The description of the statue was particularly rich and envious.

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  4. A mesmerizing story. Love the description of the statue of David. From the opening sentence on, intriguing..:)

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  5. Excellent story. Great description throughout. It says so much in such a short space. Well done!

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  6. Man you do descriptions so damn perfectly.

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  7. He seems like such a good man, it's heart breaking that affirmations will never be enough to fill what's missing. Beautiful story and parallel between him and David. ~ Olivia

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  8. I loved the descriptions in this one. It could almost be poetry.

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  9. I love the uprooted dandelion, and I echo the rest of the audience here in saying your descriptions are excellent. Thanks.

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  10. Beautiful character study with perfect descriptons. You always plop me in middle of your stories, and you find ways to engage all my senses.

    I look forward to your story every week. :)

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  11. Awwwww... sad and so sweet. Loved it...tears again... you have to stop it or I will have to stop wearing makeup.

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  12. I echo the positive comments above. As I worked my way through the story, I shifted between who "he" and "she" were and their relationship. Sometimes it appeared to be a mother and child relationship, which gave it some dimension for me in terms of complexity.

    Nice work, Cathy.

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  13. Seeing this from the man's perspective, it's sad, yes, but sweet? No. Underneath the sadness is just... more sadness.

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  14. Sometimes it seems like we spend our whole lives playing out scenarios set in place in our childhood. It is melancholy, and sometimes, when you love someone, all you can do is step back and let them go through their motions.

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  15. Gorgeous descriptions and the relationship that you paint is as haunted as it is hopeful. Enthralling.

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  16. I think Anthony was bang on with his assessment...the whole story was a lead up to that killer last line. One of your best, Cathy.

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  17. Wow - definitely one of your best. Compact and powerful.

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  18. the sub-story here is so strong and sad.
    I feel for both of them

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  19. This is elegeant, mature, and fine, fine, writing Ms. Cathy. The opening lines are so powerful and poetic. Wow.

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  20. Very poignant, Cathy. There is a sad innocence in this man, always striving to please, never sure he has even when he does. I get the sense his father was a monster - nothing ever good enough, and he has been damaged for life. I found it quite touching.
    ~jon

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  21. Exquisite. That's the best word I can come up with. not a word wasted in this and its depth is astounding. Well done, you.

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