Daffodils in a Blue Vase by Beverly Joy Taylor

Whiskey goes down the drain, like rain down a gutter. Carl drinks only Crown Royale, in the purple velvet pouch with the gold tassel. As though that's more refined. Renata hurries to the trash can, shoves the bottle beneath the used paper towels. When will he miss it? Maybe not until tonight.

He'll be home soon. Supper's almost done. She's fixed roast beef, his favorite. When she tries to eat meat it sticks in her throat like a plug, the same way she feels when Carl drinks too much. Like she can't breathe anymore.

She dashes to the bathroom and peers in the mirror. She pinches her cheeks hard, then slides Rose Red lipstick on her lips, presses them together. There. That's good. She smiles, twists her head from side to side. She looks fine. Carl likes her to be smooth and clean and perfect.

Once, she forgot to shave her legs before she got into bed with him. He'd been drinking all day and he punched her so hard she wound up in the hospital with broken ribs and a punctured lung. When he came to see her, he brought daffodils.

In her hospital room, he said softly "Hey Nattie-Girl." She greeted him with her back, looked at the flowers only after he'd gone. So pretty. In a blue vase with blue and white ribbons intertwined.

It reminded her of when they first met. Carl romanced her all the time then. Dinners out, gifts like that white rabbit fur coat, and daffodils. Even then, she loved daffodils. When she got out of the hospital, she went back to Carl. Where else would she go?

A car door slams outside the house and she jumps. One last glance in the mirror behind the dining room table, then Carl saunters in like a bull.

"Whatcha doing, Nattie?" he calls from the front hall.

He strolls into the kitchen, slaps her on the butt, and gets a cold drink of water, right from the spigot. The water trickles down his tattooed arms and splashes on the floor. What a mess, but she says nothing. After supper, maybe she'll slip off to get him another bottle of Crown Royale.

As Renata puts Carl's supper on the table, she thinks of daffodils. Then she looks at the mess he's made and her mouth twitches.


@ -- 2008 - Taylor

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