Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #111: Unravelling (#amwriting #flashfiction )

In light or shadow, I watch. You rise and throw open the curtains. I can almost taste the red hot cinnamon toothpaste. You splurged on a wet bathroom remodel and a talking crapper. That wasn’t like you. Neither was flirting with the loser laying tiles. He lingered and you twisted your hair.

When I was gone, you cried in the same green armchair you made me haul from your maternal grandparent’s place when they died. Their damn Saguaro takes up the entire den’s corner, floor to ceiling. I drunk-pissed in it once. Damn thing wouldn’t die.

You called an expert to re-pot it when the monstrosity threatened to tilt over and wither.

“Just get rid of it.”

“It’s eighty years old,” you said.


“It’s seen a lot.”

“I’m not paying for that.”

You shrugged and kissed my cheek, refusing to argue. “It’s mine. I’ll take care of it.”

A barrel cactus has appeared. It’s on the side table. The damn cat doesn’t climb up there and knock over the lamp anymore. A needle in the ass will do that. The knitting basket sits at your feet. I admit, I laughed when you made thirty-six boobie beanies for the Baby Knockers charity.

I could almost touch you when you wore my cashmere sweater.

“It still smells like him,” you told your friend, Margret.

I’m trying not to be a jerk, but I can’t help but point out that you bawled harder when your foul-mouthed cockatiel kicked the bucket.

“Ass? Hole,” the dust-maker cackled every morning. For you, he had kisses and a, “Haloo, Bay-bee.”

For him you stored the cage in bubble wrap, and for me you unraveled my sweater. Bit by bit, you plucked and picked until the key thread unwound and spooled until nothing was left but a ball. I wanted to shatter windows, scream in your face, and smash every picture hung in the foyer.

I stopped peeping for a while.

When I returned full of fire and bile, you were knitting a scarf with my sweater yarn and had gotten cozy with Tile Guy. He wasn’t sitting on the edge of the couch. No, he lounged with his white socks on the coffee table. He channel surfed and drank cheap beer from a tall tumbler set on a coaster. I thought to suck him through the screen, if such a thing were possible.

It isn’t. I tried.

One night, you hover at the door. I know you are wanting to ask him to stay the night. You won’t.

“I’ve got something planned for tomorrow,” he says.

When I turn my attention away from the tonguing, I notice the selfie of us hung underneath the family portraits. I’m asleep on the ground. I didn’t know you’d taken it. I’d been angry about having to wait for you at the top of the mountain; I’d taken a nap.

“It’s really steep. Go ahead,” you’d said. “I’ll catch you up or meet you on your way down.”

The hike had taken three times as long. Why did you take that photo? You’re a sweaty mess but smiling.

You smile like that for Tile Guy.

That tool arrives the next day laden with enough winter gear to outfit an Antarctic science crew.

“I know you hate the cold. I don’t think downhill skiing is your thing,” he says. “But, I’d like to take you cross-country skiing. Or snow shoeing–whichever.”

Your face falls and you tug the scarf. “Oh! I–” Your voice wavers. “I don’t want to hold you back…I wouldn’t be very fast.”

“No, never think that. Just enjoy the scenery with me.” He cups your face. (I hate his hands.)

You come home grinning and it stays. So does Tile Guy. He beams when you score tickets to the Ski Museum at the same mountain where we’d once hiked–where I’d left you on the trail.

Soon after, you moved my picture to the altar. You aren’t religious, but you keep the tradition. Grandpa Will, that old fart, isn’t there yet.

“You believe in that?” I asked our first year together.

“No, I only hope we get to try again. That’s enough.”

My spines were sharp, but you loved me.

I can’t tell you I’m sorry. So, I wrap my hurts and regrets into the scarf’s strands. I make it warmer. You smile whenever you wear it. And, when you unravel the yarn again and knit a little blanket, I’m happy for you.


10 comments on “Yeah Write #111: Unravelling (#amwriting #flashfiction )

  1. jawilcox711
    February 14, 2019

    Lovely take on the prompts! I love the title and the use of unraveling throughout the story. Very nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MM Schreier
    February 14, 2019

    Fun to have the little Easter eggs included here – off the top of my head I didn’t know what a Saguaro was, but knew it when I saw it.

    I liked how your piece of clothing became different things at different points in her life. and a lovely resolution for the narrator in the end. A tiny part of me wanted to know what happened to him, but it didn’t detract from the story, just left me curious.

    I think you always excel at dialogue, but I really liked how you stretched your narrative voice in this piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 14, 2019

      Thanks. I rather enjoyed writing it, though it had been 150 words over count; it almost ran away from me. 😮 Glad the links work, sometimes I am afraid they’ll be too distracting, but the Saguaro and the Beanie Boobie I didn’t think would be a universal image 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. innatejames
    February 14, 2019

    I am impressed by how you shifted the narrator from a peeping tom to a dead husband. For most of the story, I was all “How does he hear and see these things without being noticed…Oh.” “That tool arrives” threw me the first time I read it. Any way of hinting that it’s a person right away? “That tool of yours walks up the driveway the next morning…” Something like that? Wasn’t sure who or what the dust-maker was at first, either. Really nice job with the prompts. Like Maggie said, I like that the article of clothing was repurposed so many times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 14, 2019

      Thanks, Nate. As I was writing it, I realized I had done second person, past, and present tense. 😮 I was so worried it would all go sideways. I should have capitalized “Tool” that might have fixed the problem (though it does occur to me that calling someone a “tool” might be regional?) . I had had “dust-making bird” but I cut the word to be sure I was under count. I am glad that the shift worked okay. I waffled between revealing the ghost angle at first or letting it reveal organically.


  4. MichelleH
    February 14, 2019

    I thought it was a ghost from the first line – such a creepy first line! I’m impressed by how clear everyone’s personalities were even with such a strong narrator. My only critique is that it’s always the dude who wants the talking crapper – just watch HGTV. 🙂 This felt like you from the start, but with something new and exciting mixed in.


    • Laissez Faire
      February 14, 2019

      /I/ want a talking crapper with bidet, heated seat, and the whole shebang. LOL I had to be careful not to let the narrator get too mouthy because I wanted him to be relatable and redeemable — sometime he said things and I was like, “Whoa, dude. Don’t burn the bridges. Yikes.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • MichelleH
        February 14, 2019

        You redeemed him well!

        The toilet thing made me laugh. When I worked at a plumbing showroom, it was the only time husbands paid attention. But I wouldn’t turn down a fancy one!


  5. Jennifer Mierisch
    February 14, 2019

    Loved this. I sympathized with both of the main characters. I didn’t think the Tool would become a sympathetic character, but he kind of did! I like how the item of clothing was not a single item, but changed over time. This line cracked me up: “The damn cat doesn’t climb up there and knock over the lamp anymore. A needle in the ass will do that.”


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Aspiring writer, wife, mother of two, owner two cats. Teacher, lover of science, books, science fiction, fantasy, and video games.


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