Keeping Time

One, two, three, four.  One, two, three, four.

Deep breath.  Keep the tears at bay.

She’s made the mistake again.  Chirping on like a canary at breakfast about pan fried-steak dinner plans (mashed potatoes or rice?) and how she’d love to have a brand new toaster.

But judging by his eyes-fixed on a point outside her existence-it’s clear he’d rather be watching  paint dry.

She stands, begins, under the lingering cloud of his silence, to carry dishes to the sink, while he fetches his raincoat from the rack in the hall, drapes it over his arm, puts on his hat, and with leather briefcase in hand-is gone without so much as a word goodbye.


In her kitchen, she switches on the radio, plugged in next to the failing toaster. Wait Till You See Her serenades rainbow-colored ballroom bubbles that erupt as she runs an enameled dishpan full of hot soapy water. 

The steam coaxes her memory out into the open-like an envelope, sealed shut, but yielding under the sultry persuasion of moisture and heat.  She is at the Dixon’s party, and she’s gone into the sitting room to fetch a drink for Vance, only to bump into Glen Dixon.  He seems stunned at the sight of her.  Her hair, unrestrained.  Her filmy rose flowered gown draped softly on her body.  Are you having a good time, Lou?  he flirts.  Beckons her to come close, pointing to a spot on his cheek for her to plant a kiss.

Untying the strings of her yellow gingham apron, she lets it drop to the floor. Kicks off her shoes.  Pulls out the pins holding up her hair.   She forgets the gaudy gilded wallpaper she did not choose.  Forgets her seldom used ice cream soda spoons.  Forgets that the rhythm of her life, like a 5/4 beat, is almost impossible to dance to.  And starts to waltz.



Write On Edge


13 thoughts on “Keeping Time

  1. Resplendent piece, dear Valerie. I always love a reference to music and when I read 5/4 beat and waltz, my heart leapt. Those are perfect notes to this gorgeous scene and really do capture the tone and movement of the story and character. You are amazing! :)))

  2. Yes! That first scene is so familiar–quickly sucks us in because everyone’s been in that feeling, if not exact place, before. And then your second scene gives us so much more depth into this character. There is hope and beauty and she not only moves forward, even if just for a moment, but she dances. Lovely. I love it.

  3. I really like the imagery of coaxing the memory out, like steam opening an envelope…of course you said much better than that, but it stays with me in my mind. As a lover of the waltz, I could really relate to this story. It is so true, dancing the waltz makes you forget everything. The music is soothing. You start this story with a discordant life, but let her memories move her into the grace and elegance of release and escape. Simply beautiful:~)

    p.s. I couldn’t the waltz video to work, but that’s okay. I know the dance well.

  4. the steamed envelope image was lovely and I heard that dispan hit the sink, my grandma had a porcelain. Honestly, when I read you I always imagine her or her kitchen, or her shoes. You bring her back to me so vividly I have to wipe my eyes.

    Love in your imagination is always a tease, a coax, a ruse sometimes. Sweeter, fuller and makes us feel like dancing. I want her to find that song, those arms, the place she truly belongs.

    it’s beautiful

  5. Sorry am late in visiting this week Val,but Summer is here and so are my headaches-I can already foresee a long 3 months or so of this struggle to keep up with reading,writing and commenting-sigh!

    But on to beautiful things-like this piece of yours!Loved the imagery,the layers and the reflective mood .Why is it that so often two people who are together are in reality far apart-why does the mundane have to overtake the romance,the free spirit and the beauty ?Why is it that nostalgia is always better?A thought provoking piece !

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