An Uncouth Scribe

“This paper is weird. It’s all stiff and thick.” Carla’s eyes dribbled back and forth across Dylan’s restless form. He lay prone and twitching on the couch. Her gaze paused just under his belt. “Kinda like yer-“

Dylan leapt up faster than a jackrabbit on meth, grabbing the white vellum out of Carla’s hands. “Don’t be writin’ yer stupid grocery list on that.”

“Whoa. Fine. So sorry to take your,” Her fingers twitched into air quotes, “special paper.” Lips contorting, Carla’s nose squished, creating a pinched expression. “Ya gonna git yerself a fancy pen too? What’s it for anyway?”

“None of yer damn business! That’s what!” The hinges on the screen door felt Dylan’s furious shoulder and the wood porch cracked under his feet. “Damn bitch, always gettin’ in my business.”

His pace slowed as he fished a lighter out of his back pocket and pulled a cigarette from behind his ear. But his draws were almost violent, lips bruising the white cylinder—a futile attempt to steady his nerves before opening the mailbox. Hollow reverberations echoed inside. The box suffered his anger, receiving a fist-sized dent in its side.

“Shit!”

He yanked a phone out of the other back pocket. A slow flush of resentment began to rise from the base of his neck at the lack of missed calls. No new emails had his entire face enflamed.

“God damn you, Kerry! It’s been two weeks since I sent that letter.” A final pull and the cigarette was expunged below his bare heel. “You got one week, girl. Then I’m comin’.”

An unwelcome gust of spring dropped his words off at the open window where Carla had been peeking out.

Who the hell is Carrie, she wondered.

LKT © 2015

(Other segments in the Kerrington series can be found here.)

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Broken

Halston Brockwood sent a silent prayer of thanks to Magda at the distinct aroma of Chicken Cordon Bleu emanating from the kitchen. He checked the hall table for mail, but only found a small, torn piece of heavy paper. He blinked at that. Magda was usually quite fastidious and he hoped the chicken wasn’t too salty.

Hearing only silence, he knew his wife had let the staff off early again. Halston was a good businessman and he hated paying people for hours spent not working. Still, Kerrington had convinced him about how hard the staff worked and they should be paid for what was finished, not for a certain amount of hours. After her impassioned speech, she kissed him and Halston hadn’t put up much of a fight.

Thinking of Kerrington, he bypassed the dining room and checked the window at the end of the hall. He could see most of her gardens from here, but of his wife, there was no sign. He smiled, considering the possibility she was in their room. Halston took the stairs two at a time.
The bed was a mess of Kerrington’s clothing, but not in the way Halston had been anticipating. A Chanel suit was still on a hanger, but crumpled near the pillows. Several other dresses were strewn about and the foot of the bed was littered with shoes. He checked the closet and saw a gap in the least used portion of her wardrobe. Her t-shirts were missing.

With unforgiving breaths coming faster and faster, he almost tripped over the upended drawer of her jewelry cabinet. Trepidation made his hand shake as he picked it up to put it back in place. The rings that had been set inside were on the carpet underneath and the fabric had been pried from the bottom of the drawer. Swallowing hard, Halston sat amongst the heap on the bed. The lids of his eyes clamped shut, trying to force the pressure building inside back to tolerable levels. It didn’t work. Kerrington may as well have shoved the spikes of her Manolos into his temples herself.

They had spoken of this only once. So many years ago, he had forgotten it was even a possibility. Halston Brockwood felt the weight of his false security crack against the cabinet holding the gifts of gold and platinum he had bestowed upon her as his fist broke the glass door.

LKT © 2015

(Other segments in the Kerrington short story series can be found here).

Burning Bridges

It wasn’t unusual for Mrs. Brockwood to release the staff early most days. As long as their duties were completed, she didn’t seem to mind paying them full salary if they left an hour or two before the end of the day. In fact, she often encouraged it. The only surprise about today’s dismissal had been the timing of it—before noon. None of the day’s work was finished, but Mrs. Brockwood assured them they would all be paid in full, so most left immediately.

Magda, however, couldn’t leave a chore undone. It was only after she prepped the chicken and made sure the delayed timer on the oven was set properly that she picked up her purse and exited the servant’s door.

Mrs. Brockwood’s gardens were so beautiful in this time of year. Magda loved the hydrangea best. Mrs. Brockwood had worked with the gardener for nearly a year to get the soil just right in each section so the hydrangea would range in color from pink to blue. Despite her attention to the hydrangea, Mrs. Brockwood had always seemed to prefer her daisies. They were planted in every spot of dirt in which they would grow. The hydrangea, lilacs and lilies were intoxicating, but the daisies were fresh, clean and smelled like sunbeams.

But sunlight wasn’t the aroma wafting over the flagstone. Magda determined across the path to reprimand the gardener. The only person allowed to smoke on the patio was Mr. Brockwood with his Bolivars. The housekeeper stopped short at the corner of the house, her mouth half open in preparation to scold.

Poised at the arched part of the path that crossed a small stream underneath, Mrs. Brockwood stood as if she had five encyclopedias balanced on her head, cigarette tucked between two fingers, a plume of smoke curling from her pursed lips, weaving its way across the flowers. Magda’s eyes grew.

As the ash reached the filter, Mrs. Brockwood tossed the butt under the nearest daisy, turned back and strode towards the house without looking in the housekeeper’s direction.

“Goodbye, Magda.”

(Other segments in the Kerrington short story series can be found here).

LKT © 2015

Sculpted

Kerrington moved to the floor to ceiling window at the end of the foyer. The remains of the envelope floating and sinking amongst the Lily of the Valley stems in the Waterford vase behind her. One hand pressed against the wall, an inch from the pane. The letter crushed into her other palm.

In this manner, she remained as though cast in bronze and on display. Her thoughts concealed behind features angular and brittle. Kerrington watched as the sun shifted from the lake on the eastern side of the property to the gardens near the house. In her mind, she took a photograph, memorizing the colors of spring, mastering the curves of petals and learning by heart the softness of her birds’ wings.

I should go, she thought.

(Other segments in the Kerrington short story series can be found here).

LKT © 2015

Kerrington’s Letter

It arrived on the perfect day. Bluebirds sang from Dogwood branches and Mockingbirds copied the melody, carrying it past the dunes before the shore. Buttery light filled the garden and park beyond, capturing the fauna playing hide and seek behind trees and nibbling on petals.

Kerrington’s heels clicked hard against the marble floor, echoing throughout the stark hall. Bored, she stopped at the mahogany table where Simmons had left the mail. Only three requests for money today. How droll.

The square vellum, crisp and clean, felt expensive. That said something. She knew the cost of things and this, well, this was priceless. The wax wasn’t easily broken.

LKT © 2015

(Other segments in the Kerrington short story series can be found here).

Kerrington's Letter image

(Image via this site, although I’m not sure if that is the originator. Just trying to give credit where it’s due.)