Again and Again – A Short Story

“Did you see the paper I was working on yesterday?” Her husband asked her. She was standing in the doorway and for the last few minutes had watched him scatter the office that she had so painstakingly arranged only a few hours earlier. She didn’t know what hurt her more, that he had scattered the room or that he hadn’t thought to ask her first.

“No,” she said, coming into the room and placing the tea tray on the desk. She had to shove some papers aside. She didn’t bother picking up the ones that fell onto the carpet. Her husband looked up.

“I could have sworn I left it on the table.” 

She turned to face him. “Honey, I cleaned this room this afternoon and I didn’t see anything. Maybe you misplaced it?”

Her husband sighed. “Maybe.”

They stared at each other then he looked away. “I’ll have to start working on it again. Thank God, I had not really gone that far.”

She knew this was her cue, to get out of the room and leave her husband to his writing. To give him time and space while he worked on fulfilling his dream to be a published author and she cooked and cleaned, took care of the children, taught at the local elementary school and spent 4 hours a week talking to her mother. She loved her job and her mother. She loved her children. And she loved her husband too. He was a good man. He was a great father. He was creative and good with art but terrible at husband.

“Dinner?” She asked.

“Not sure,” he replied, sitting at his desk, a fresh notepad in front of him, his pen at the ready. She smiled and left the room.

When she first met him, she had been enthralled at the thought of dating a Writer. Writers, the most powerful people on Earth.  People who could create and end with just words. She had been excited. She wasn’t much of a writer or reader herself but she had read his work and she had fallen in love. She had always tried to support him ny being his beta reader and helping him to edit but he had refused. He worked alone, he would always tell her. And so she had no part in his writing. But it was okay. He wrote for the weekly newspaper and had his own column where he wrote about art and creativity and that was fine. Until he’d started to apply for the Creators Guild.

The Creators Guild was the most powerful body of Artists, Writers alike. Membership was only bestowed on the best of the best. The one percent of the one percent. As a member of the creators Guild, her husband will be given a lot of privileges. A seat on the Assembly, a huge monthly allowance among others. He would also be granted the Blessing of Expression, the highest honor the country would ever give to any Artist–the freedom to express whatever view they have in their art. But even that wasn’t what bothered her.

Creator’s Guild membership would mean more writing. More writing meant more time away from her and the children.

She closed her eyes. She wasn’t selfish. She just loved her children and husband very much. Soon after she’d tucked the children in for the night, she’d heard footsteps. She looked up from her work. He was standing in front of her. She stood to his height.

“Did you get enough work done?” She asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Dinner?” She asked.

“No,” he said. “I’m meeting with Dewale. He has VIP tickets for Sola Olayinka’s play. Sola’s on the Guild you know?”

“Of course,” she said.

“Don’t be sad,” he said and pulled her into his arms. “I’ll be back before morning.”

He kissed her before sauntering out of the house.

She continued with her work but she couldn’t continue. She got up and went into his office. The tray she carried in earlier was untouched. Next to it was a sheet of A3 papers with writings and drawings on them. She recognized it. Her husband had one idea for his Guild application and every night after he couldn’t find his work, he recreated the same thing over and over again.

She picked it up along with the tray and carried it into the kitchen with her. She dropped the tray on the counter and carried the sheet up into their bedroom. She lit a candle. And with its light, she read his work over and over again, making corrections where necessary, editing and proofreading and adding ideas of her own. And when she was done, she folded the sheet into two. Normally she would wait for at least one week or two to pass so that he didn’t become suspicious but at this rate, he would be finished by then. She held it over the candle and watched it crumble bit by bit into ashes. By dawn, the last piece of it dropped onto the desk. 

It was morning and her husband wasn’t back home.

She cleaned it up.

© Dee Caulcrick 2021