Spring 2010

Table of Contents - Vol. VI, No. 1


Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

Marje A. Dyck


Red High Heels

She puts on her red high heels and goes out. It’s late at night and the wet street gleams beneath red and green neon.
Stirring more sugar into the raspberry jam that bubbles on the stove, she thinks about doing it. If she did, something awful would happen. She'd come home and the house wouldn't be there. There would be an empty lot with just a broken rocking chair and a wheel from her child's toy truck. There would be something sinister in the way the wind moved the chair, and the single wheel would look so forlorn that she would start to cry. The neighbors across the street would watch from behind the edge of a curtain. She wouldn't have the courage to go and ask if they knew where her husband and son were. She knew it would be futile to ask because she would never see them again. They would be taken from her because she hadn't been thankful enough for them; her home, her husband, her child.
She thinks there is something risqué about red high heels. They are outrageous and extravagant. Secretly she wishes to own a pair, but whenever she passes a shoe store, two people fight inside her. The sensible one wins.
She moves the pot of jam to the back of the stove and goes to check on the child who gurgles up at her from his play pen. He's teething again and drool runs down his chin. She wipes his nose. She hopes he isn't catching another cold. She goes back to the stove and pulls hot jars from boiling water. The room feels warm and clammy as she fills the glasses with the thick, seedy liquid.
She goes into a dimly lit bar. The bartender is thin-faced and has a wolfish look. His eyes seem to focus slightly above her head when she orders her drink. He makes change quickly, and continues his conversation with a heavy, gray-haired man in a gray business suit. She sits on a bar stool and crosses her legs; the red high heels gleam silently in the smoky light.
Her husband comes in the front door, drops his coat on a chair and asks if there's any cold beer. She wipes her sticky hands on a towel and reaches into the fridge, feeling the coolness of the bottle as she pops off the cap. He goes and sits down in the living room and switches on the baseball game, gulping the beer as he puts his feet on the coffee table.
A man comes over and asks her to dance and she follows him to the middle of the small floor. They don't speak. He holds her close. She smells his aftershave lotion and it makes her think of hills full of sage, and the hot, dry wind whipping her hair. There's just the dance, the closeness and the sad, slow music. He looks down into her face. His eyes are large and dark.
"Honey, did my income tax return come today?" She goes to the small desk where she makes out the cheques to pay the bills every month and writes Christmas cards every December. She brings him a long, brown envelope that he tears open. He swears when he sees the amount.
When the man takes her back to her stool, he looks at her for an intense moment and then disappears into a shadowy corner. The bartender brings her another drink and a blues singer's voice fills the dusky room with the pain of lost love.
The baby starts to cry and she warms a bottle. Coaxing the nipple between his swollen gums, she rocks him absentmindedly. The roar of the crowd on the television set swells, and her husband lets out a whoop from the living room.
She finishes her drink and walks out into the street. The red high heels tap, tap on the wet pavement. They carry her home through the rainy streets to her husband and child. They are unaware that she has been away.


© Marje A. Dyck



Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

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