Tonight was the second of nine classes of a writing course—Lines, Curves, and Dots—offered at our church. We spent quite a bit of time in focus groups, sharing our assignment from the first class, that is to write a 250-word micro fiction. I’ve never written fiction in my life, so it was kind of fun (and challenging) to try telling a whole story in a few words.
Speechless, they face each other across the checkered tablecloth, staring at the same menu they’ve ordered from hundreds of times already. At least they vary their table choice; 13 different settings for their nightly meal. He raises his menu just high enough to conceal a stifled yawn, hoping his eyes don’t tell on him.
Their patient server knows just how long to wait before approaching with two glasses of water, one with lemon. She might be tempted to start writing the predictable order before they speak, but she hopes that once, just once, at least one of them will feel brave enough to try something different.
“She’ll have the ground sirloin with broccoli and mashed potatoes—generous gravy, please.” He orders it the same way every time—generous gravy, please. Something about the way he says generous with his eyes, as well as his voice, turns his wife’s face to blush. Which surprises her every single night. She didn’t know she could love him more than she already does.
She peers at him over the top of her menu, and, noticing his wink, smiles lovingly with half of her face, the other half frozen, expressionless.
“And I’ll have the same.”
Sixty-four years ago he promised to love and to cherish in sickness and in health. “Sickness” probably includes stroke, but they define their partnership by its health.
No one around them can hear the lively conversation they share silently as he feeds her a bite of mashed potatoes and gravy, then takes one himself.
Our next assignment is to write a limerick. Any suggestions?