Here’s a little free fiction just for you.
A Woman’s Prerogative
He never wanted to but he went ahead and opened the purse. There were compartments. He didn’t have a clue what the use of so many sections could be.
He’d heard on a TV show that it was a woman’s prerogative to keep her personal life bound up in her purse.
Slowly, like pulling a hot filter out of one of those newer model cars, he managed to remove her wallet from the purse without disturbing too much.
There were the two snaps on the wallet. One. Two. A threefold contraption. He laid the entire thing flat on the table next to his empty coffee mug. He took a deep breath. Mildew. Another scent. I’ve got Windsong on my mind. That brought pain with it.
The first fold of the wallet, a clear plastic window, revealed her face on her Club Membership card. Taken years ago when big glasses were the rage. Made her face look small, petite, so very pretty.
The next fold held her credit card. She had only one stuck in the slit. She believed in that, one credit card. Put everything on it, she told him. Pay one bill at the end of the month. He didn’t cotton to that much. Then there were the library cards stuck in the other slots. One library card for each of the kids. Funny. The kids were in college now.
The last fold held a plastic packet. The driver’s license. The kids’ pictures. A family picture, the last one they had taken. Years old. Her insurance card long expired. The video store card, checking account card, beauty store discount card and membership card to the book club. (He’d been working for months to get that canceled.) He pulled and tugged the last shred of paper sticking out of an obscure slot.
The paper fell like an errant autumn leaf at his feet. He stooped to pick it up. He unfolded the scrap, soft with much handling, and laid it flat on the table next to the wallet.
It had been a year. One whole entire stupid year.
Energy had gone with her passing. Couldn’t work. Couldn’t go anywhere. Could only sit and watch the news, flipping channels.
He had only recently gotten around to clearing the closet. Had Goodwill in to haul the stuff away from the garage. The only thing left, besides that little piece of purple ‘n white paper for income tax purposes, was the purse. And the wallet.
Good memories? He’d been a good husband. Came home every night. Not like some. He’d paid the bills. Bought a big house, five bedrooms for cryin’-out-loud! A king could live in a house like that. Or a queen.
He worked long hours. Worked like the dickens, in fact. And to top it off she’d complained. Made him mad. He bent over backwards to scrape together what they had.
She’d told him she wasn’t happy. She wanted more.
“More what?” He demanded to know.
“I don’t know.” She replied with tears in her eyes, muttering something about living.
Didn’t catch her exact words.
“What do you call this?” he asked her. “Dying?”
He smiled at the thought of how he’d won that argument before it had even started.
But he still hadn’t found a note. A reason. Dammit … Why?
With the contents of her wallet strewn on the kitchen table with last weeks’ dishes and stacked pizza boxes, he knew as certain as certain that she had left him long before she actually had.
He stared at the photo that she had hidden in her wallet. The man in the photo stared back at him from atop the table. Didn’t know him. No movie star. Just a basic looking guy. Basic. Nothing special.
He stared at the photo.
A woman’s prerogative.
Suddenly V, Prose Poetry & Sudden Fiction is edited by Jackie Pelham and published by Stone River Press.