May 23, 2010

Dana Verdino

Like Wanting Flowers

The trees in the yard were old and tall, and their branches were here and there, like a broken umbrella in the sky. It was March and the evening wasn’t yet black but rather a Carolina blue, and winds rocked the aging branches while buds fell free, never to become leaves. We sat at the kitchen table overlooking this backyard scene, and we ate cavatelli I rolled with my hands. John ate voraciously and this always pleased me, as I took it that he appreciated my food so much so that if I were to die, he’d talk about it forever to his future wife, about how he misses my pasta and my seasoned potatoes and my chicken cutlets. There were times of course, when he ate hesitantly, and these were times I hadn’t cooked well, or there were too many vegetables mingled in.

“So what are you going to do to help me? To help us?” I asked.

“We’ve been to three different fucking doctors. Nothing. All these specialists and no one knows.”

“I’m alone here,” I said. “You’re still painting and dipping. I’m doing everything—doctors, pills, tests.”

John picked up a chunk of tomato from the tomato sauce and threw it onto my plate. I thought I got them all. “I have to paint. That’s what I do,” he said. “You drink and smoke.”

“I have to,” I said.

“Right. Or else you’ll start hammering holes into the walls and break the vacuum, giving me more work to do around here.”

It was true but I would tell him all the time that I didn’t like to vacuum, or that it wasn’t made properly. And as for the walls, I’d tell him that it was just the way I do things, it was how I made my decisions. So what if it left holes and scratches and gashes? He was a painter. He could fix it. I had to do what I was good enough to do, which was colors and fabrics and the modern way things should go together.

“Just be patient,” he said, and this made me want to scratch myself. He said this too often, like when I said I wanted new couches, a beach vacation, and cartoon pictures for the nursery.

I poured a glass of wine and went upstairs to change my clothes. I undressed in front of the mirror over my dresser, then folded my hands on my naked belly, not intentionally. I guessed it was one of those things that happens automatically to a woman, like wanting flowers. Then I put on velour pants and a t-shirt, and went back downstairs for more discussion. Of course now John was fully engaged in a baseball game, and I sat next to him on the couch. I didn’t have patience for baseball, so I looked out the french doors to the backyard and the blackness of the sky coming down, and I asked John if he’d like some ice cream for dessert.


Dana Verdino lives in South Carolina with her husband and animal friends. She has an M.A. in Education, and works as an ESL teacher but secretly hopes to win the lottery so she can do plenty of nothing but write. Her stories have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Postcard Shorts, and others.

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