This story came from a round of flash cricket – the participants start writing and the workshop moderator calls out words every 30-45 seconds that must be incorporated into the story.
Clara Gets a New Garden
The wind rips the restaurant door from Clara’s hands. She struggles into the shop as the owner rushes to help her, wiping mashed potato from his hands. “A corker of a storm, eh,” he says, as he wrestles the door back into place.
Clara gives him a half-smile and he goes back to the counter. She tiptoes to a corner table, uncomfortable aware of her inappropriate shoes and the way the heels sound like gunshots on the tile floor.
She settles into her chair and pulls Alistair’s hoodie from her bag, nestling it around her like an enchanted hug. Wrapped in the softness of his jacket, engulfed in the scent of his faded cologne, she burrows into it, fighting the prickle of tears that have threatened since this morning.
“Can’t do it anymore, babe,” he’d said over breakfast. “I’m suffocating.”
Suffocating. Was that what he called a stable life, with a solid marriage and a decent salary. Between the two of them, they’d almost paid off their beloved house, something most of their friends couldn’t imagine. How does a man suddenly flip from content to trapped? “What can I do?” Clara had cried, her fingers tracing the playful sea creatures on their tablecloth—an homage to their regular seafood dinners they’d shared at this table she’d refinished herself. She didn’t want to lose their house, couldn’t lose it.
“It’s not you,” he’s said. “We’ll sell the house, babe. Split the profits.”
“Split the profits. And lose the only home I’ve ever known.”
“It isn’t you, baby,” he’d told her. “It’s not you.”
And maybe it isn’t her, Clara thinks, as she orders a coffee and a shepherd’s pie from the shop owner. But it isn’t Alistair anymore, either. She pulls her journal from her purse and makes a note to plant flowers over the newly dug dirt in her backyard.