Martha was sitting at the table when I woke up. The newspaper was scattered all around the dining room. The comic lay on the floor by her feet, Garfield grinning his kitty grin up at her as she bent over the crossword.

Despite the early hour she was perfect. Make up applied just so, her auburn hair piled and pinned and teased into an updo worthy of an evening gala. The only flaw was the cigarette she held between the first two fingers of her left hand, while the tapped the pencil against her lips with her right hand.

Seeing me out of the corner of her honey colored eyes she asked, “What is a five letter word for Rose’s beauty?”

I made my way to the pot of coffee she had made and poured myself a healthy dose of it in my favorite coffee mug, as old and chipped as it was it was large. Large was important.

“What’s it start with?”


I sat down across from her and pushed the sports section of the paper aside so I’d have a place to sit my mug. “Bloom” I told her, reaching across to take a chocolate covered doughnut out of the box she had set in the center of the table.

I ate in silence, staring at her as she worked her way though the word puzzle. She sipped her coffee, nearly white with cream and sugar, from a pink mug that sat on a bright blue saucer. They were not mine.

“Nice coffee set”

“You like?” she beamed. “I found them at a tag sale. From two different sets, the last of their families. They’re perfect together really. Perfect.”

Giving up on the crossword she looked up at me, grinning her most perfect supermodel grin. “So,” she said. “How have you been?”

I couldn’t take it anymore and nearly shouted at her, “What are you doing here, Martha? You can’t just come in here any time you want to. I’m married now. What if Susan had come out here before me?”

“What if?” Martha said, and laughed. I didn’t like the sparkle in those beautiful eyes, then they darkened. “She’s pregnant isn’t she, you fertile little bastard. Well, I’m pregnant too. Twins. Twins, a boy and a girl. Blue and pink and unwanted.”

She set her pink cup down on her blue saucer, and milky tan coffee sloshed out and onto the crossword. Down the hall I heard Susan brushing her teeth.

“Martha, you need to leave. Now.”

“They’re yours,” she said. “You know they are.”

“Leave. Now.”

She stood up calmly, brushed out the wrinkles in her slacks, tugged at the hem of her jacket. She started to say something, then decided against it.

While I stood by the remains of my newspaper she let herself out the side door. I made a mental note to move the hideaway key.

“Who was here,” Susan said as she slumped into the kitchen still wearing her pajamas. Her short brown hair stood up in a million different directions and she had a smear of toothpaste in the corner of her mouth.

“Just somebody from work,” I lied.

“This early,” she asked, eyeing the pink and blue coffee set with a glazed doughnut untouched on the side of the plate.

“Have a doughnut,” I said, changing the subject. She chose one covered in bright sprinkle and tore into it while I poured her a cup of coffee then cleaned up the now soggy newspaper.


Jenn said...

I am so happy you participatd in A Thousand Words this week! And what a great story -- it packed a punch! ;-) I had no idea where it was going at first, and loved the ending.

I hope you will participate again. Feel free to download the photos and post them on your site. You can go back and write in response to any past prompts at any time --- no requirement that you write within the week a particular prompt is the most recently published.

Again, welcome to A Thousand Words. Well done!

Pamela Plumley said...

Interesting stories you write! I'd love to see them expanded into fuller stories (when they're not part of a contest)! For example, tell us more about what happens to the man and the pregnant woman and Susan in the ending of it all, that would be great!