This post is part of Fiction Friday, a series born out of my ongoing desire to be a novelist. These stories are meant to be read independently. They are fictional vignettes inspired by glimmers from my life.
Every time something goes wrong – which is often, now that Catherine is only a head – she asks me to write it down in the notebook. We’ll document it, she says, and then we’ll brainstorm how to avoid repeating the same mistake. By we, of course, she means me. But it’s okay. I get it. She has better things to worry about.
Before the decapitation, Catherine engaged in horseback riding, Chinese Checkers, and wine tastings. She has refused to change this lifestyle, body or no body. Take the horseback riding. We'll drive out to the country, past the miniature rusted windmills and fields of toxic lavender, pay a ranch hand two hundred dollars for his least ornery mare, and Catherine keeps falling off the damn thing. But of all the bodiless heads you've met, she's the most determined, I'm telling you. She’s got a death grip on the saddle with those big square teeth of hers. It’s just tough, you know, with all that bucking, all that thrashing.
In the notebook, I write: Research specialized saddles, and/or smaller horses.
With a little creativity, Chinese Checkers is almost like the old days. Last week, I used a Sharpie to number each marble – there are six sets of ten, in shades of yellow, tangerine, white, violet, green, and black. Now, during our all-night matches, Catherine shouts out vocal instructions when it’s her turn. Who says you need arms to have some old-fashioned fun?
Good sportsmanship still isn’t her forte. Lose a game and she’ll heave herself onto the board, splaying the marbles every which way. It’s my one pet peeve, you know? Fishing game pieces out from under the couch? And yet she continues to do it.
Wine tastings are a different kind of thorny issue. After a couple sips, she’s smashed. She slurs, she laughs at anything, she droops her eyelids, revealing smudged mauve eye shadow. Another few sips and she becomes argumentative, rocking restlessly back and forth on the stool, her eyelashes batting furiously.
"Do you want some bread?" I ask her. "They’ve got special dips here. You like balsamic vinegar, right?"
"Don’t look down at me like that,” she says.
We are at the new winery down the street. These days, there’s one on every block. Around our table – which is this huge oak masterpiece suspended from the ceiling with fishing wire – the other guests become hushed, nervous about our argument. I feel my cheeks flush. I clear my throat loudly and raise my glass.
"To my beautiful wife," I say. This seems to please them. The clinking of glasses commences.