This week’s Trifecta challenge calls for using the 3rd definition of the word quaint – “3a : unusual or different in character or appearance : ODD b : pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar <a quaint phrase>” in a piece of writing 33 – 333 words in length.
“Close your eyes!” she commands, and I consent.
Once when we were kids, she ordered me to jump in a January lake with her, ice all around.
I did it without protest.
The tides don’t resist the inexorable pull of the moon.
“OK, where are we?” she asks.
“We’re ten, sitting by the creek, doing mud facials. Remember we saw it in some magazine? I doubt any spa used wormy creek mud, but we didn’t care! We were fa-ancy.”
Her laugh fills the room before terminating in a series of coughs and wheezes.
When I open my eyes, I have to look away. For a moment, I’d seen her at ten, ruddy, beaming, vibrating with life. Now, the smile is the same, but the lips cracked, the cheeks hollow. The eyes that used to dance like the sun on the water now lie in shadows.
She opens them and frowns. “What?”
The ding and hum of the machines are a metronome, measuring the remaining beats of her life, filling the silence with so much mechanical apathy.
We stare at each other, speaking without words all the things that we’ve always known, even when we were miles apart, things that will never be said.
She smiles with more pain than peace and whispers– “Close them. Let’s go someplace else.”
“Ok. We’re in a quaint bed and breakfast in Tuscany. There’s a white curtain fluttering in the window. You can smell the warmth on the air – everything’s alive. On the table there’s a red jug filled with – “
“ lilies, my – ”
“ – favorite. Yea.”
“Now I kiss you.” I turn her hand over and brush my lips against the palm, a kiss that’s more ache than contentment.
“Mmmm. Let’s never leave,” she murmurs, and of course I comply.
The breeze seems to hum as it flutters the curtain and in the distance we hear the faint dinging of the chapel bells. I say a silent prayer they never stop chiming.