Eventide Grind

I began this story with a specific purpose, and then abandoned it once I realized it had already been done. I cut out about a thousand words having to do with the main plot, and now it could be anything. As opposed to growing old and moldy in my abandoned writing folder, I thought I would post it on here. Hopefully someone will read it and see a story here, and then begin writing...

At four thirty, on November 28th of 2009, Halle Fay placed the telephone handset back onto the base, closing the line. Her ex-husband had been on the other end of it. She tired of Donato's assiduous arguing—the man just never knew when to give up, could never simply admit defeat and call it a day. Hell, the law was on her side for this one.

    The argument had been about—sigh, what else, she thought—child support payments. That is how it usually began, and, as with every other phone call of which this was the reason, the conversation quickly turned to confrontation. Soon they were hammering at each other over everything from whose fault the March 20th fight was to why Joseph seemed to be doing worse in school now. It was all just so much matrimonial flatulence—and the divorce had been finalized last Wednesday.

     Oh, it irked her so. If only he could see the expression she wore right now; she felt certain it was ugly and vicious enough to make him reconsider nonpayment. He knew very well that she had enough in her hands already—even without his refusal to pay. There was Christmas coming up, for one—and that was a big one—and Joseph's video game camp in two weeks—another financially big one. Then there was her dealings with the devils of taxation, and, not to forget, her landlord raising the rent by an amount one dollar less than what would have made it illegal. Fun stuff, the lot of it. Now she would need to contact income support for financial supplementation.

     As if all of that wasn't enough, tonight she had given Joseph the promise of taking him Christmas shopping. Seeing as how Donato was supposed to mail the check yesterday she thought she could afford it. Besides, he wanted badly to buy something for her. Try to find something for ten dollars, she had told him, twenty at the very most. And that was all fine to Joseph, as long as he got to go through the motions and buy something for her. But sometime in the last half hour that twenty dollars became twenty dollars she didn't have. Even ten would be stretching it.
   
    Halle looked into the side pocket of her purse reserved for change. Hadn't she already emptied it yesterday, though? No matter. She dug around, scraping long red fingernails along the sandy bottom and the corners of it in search of coin. Her hand came out empty but for the dirt and sand—and what appeared to be a small amount of dirty pink gum—under her nails.

    She curled her fingers and looked under the nails. They were disgusting now, but that hardly seemed to matter. Suddenly Donato's face was there, in her palm, smiling at her. She closed her fist, squeezing the bastard's face until pain danced around before her eyes in the form of fluttery white dots. Her grip loosened. His face was gone, replaced by four red crescents—from one of which came a single tear of blood.

She was surveying the damage done when Joseph spoke up behind her.

    “This good?” he asked. Big proud smile. Good, he didn't see.

    He had dressed himself in an Oilers sweater, silt-thin summer track pants, and wool socks. The outfit was fine, except for the pants which would probably stiffen like a paper bag after a couple seconds of exposure to the piercing cold outside. He'd done well, though. She couldn't help but cry right then. God knows there were a lot of reasons to cry, but nothing in particular had caused it this time.  The tears just started coming. They came in ever increasing frequency, each one widening the path for larger ones still to come.

    She looked away from him, mercifully tried to spare him her display. It was too late. He was already at her side—also crying. He pressed his face into her side. She held him tightly, feeling the precious fragility of him in her arms. It'll work out, she thought. Somehow it always does.

     They cried, wept, and embraced diligently. Neither gave the other a single clue as to why. That was okay; communication was irrelevant. After many unchecked minutes they both slowed, quieted, and then stopped simultaneously.

    She got up from her chair; he would need to change those pants before they left. She would need a shirt, too, as his tears were many and her shirt quite absorbent.

    On her way to gather the clothes, she turned and watched him a while. He sat on the chair they had only minutes ago cried uncontrollably in, now reading a comic and smiling as if nothing at all had happened.

    She changed into a sweater and fetched a pair of jeans and some long-johns for him.

    He slid out of his track pants and then dressed in the clothes she had brought him. Soon he was back on that chair and reading the comic once more while she went outside to start their small sub-compact. The dang thing started without a hiccup as it always did; quality some times came in disguise. She cranked the heat and then climbed out to scrape off the windows as the interior warmed.

    Her gaze shifted to the living room window which gave her a clear view of Joseph. His head was tilted awkwardly down into his lap. Must be quite the comic book, she thought, as he looked up at her as if sensing her watching. They both smiled.

    The sky had changed quickly from day to twilight to full night. Her breathe now puffed from her mouth and nose in a blue-white mist every few seconds as she scratched laboriously at the stubborn frost.

    At first she hadn't noticed it, but it made itself known with ever increasing volume—a thin scraping sound on the other side of the car. And now that she heard it, she saw it too. There was movement there. She could see a dark shape moving behind the frost. She rounded the bumper slowly, feeling both nervous and silly for feeling nervous, and investigated.

    It was Joseph. He had dressed in snow pants and his thick winter coat, and was scratching at the driver side window with a trowel she kept in a box under the sink. His help hadn't been particularly helpful, but it went much more quickly with him here nonetheless and soon they were on their way to the shopping mall

The End

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