Veranda by Torsten Behrens
Poems, Songs, Stories

Fiction Friday: “Sunday”

Maybe it’s a little odd to post a story titled “Sunday” on a Friday, but it’s yet another piece of fiction from Firethorne (it was published in the Spring 2014 edition, my senior year) which I’d like to share with you for this series. I wondered, when I wrote it, if it was a little too blasphemous (and profane), but I think it accurately depicts a certain variation of the human condition, which is all I try to convey in my stories.

Please enjoy 🙂 and let me know what you think!

Sunday

            I was married, once. She was French. Her names was Inès, and I suppose I should have known that any woman whose name means “chaste” (especially if she’s French) is destined to live ironically. Personally, I think Inès was hell-bent on destroying the image her parents gave her from the very beginning. Just look at her kiddie pictures. You’ll find a lot of red lipstick and bent-over kissing poses.

       Anyway, it was a Sunday afternoon and she was out on the veranda drinking coffee from a wine glass in her beige-and-white swimsuit. It was a bikini, of course, and depending on the time of year her skin blended in with either the white or the beige half of her suit, so it always looked like one of her breasts was showing. Her hair was pretty long at the time, and she always had it down in the summer, so the sun could turn it all blonde “like ze filles américaines.” I’ve always liked brunettes, myself, and for the most part, she was, but even when she wasn’t…

       Well, as I said, she was French.

       So of course, with my two years of high school French and mediocre looks — and I know it probably sounds like I’m being modest, but I assure you I’m not — I really didn’t stand a chance. But we did get married. Bought a house in Pomona and a black French Bulldog to remind her of home, I thought. She was offended. Eventually she warmed up to him though, and in the end I think she probably loved that dog more than she ever loved me.

       But I’m not bitter about it.

       Seriously though — why should Inès have married me? It might have been because we met on a yacht. I suppose the idea of being pampered by a rich American guy who did a triple-take every time he looked at her while she was wearing that camouflage bathing suit may have appealed to her, but in the end it’s a mystery.

       So I wasn’t surprised that she ran off. I don’t know where she went or with whom (although I imagine he had some douche-y name like Clark or Sebastian or Jean-Pierre), but I know I wasn’t surprised. I was glad she took the dog. I just woke up one morning and I knew. She wasn’t coming back. I got out of bed and took a tour of the house, seeing if I could smell her in the kitchen or the shower or the creases of the chaise longue, but whether I could or not I don’t remember. I just went and sat on the veranda in my underwear. I got such a bad sunburn on my chest that when the skin peeled it tangled in my chest hair so that I looked like a really unhygienic, modern-day Esau. And I remember thinking, ‘damn, this is literally injury to insult’ (and then of course I remembered that it was the other way around, and somehow that just made everything worse).

       But it was on that Sunday when I saw her stretched out on a lawn chair in her beige-and-white bikini reading some girly magazine with a bright pink headline that said “600 ways to enjoy sex with your partner” that I realized what a total fuck-up I was. Maybe I still am.

       “Inès,” I said.

       “Oui,” she said. She didn’t look up.

       “Do you love me?”

       She looked up. She kept reading. “Eez Sunday, Spensergh,” she said, pronouncing my name with a touch of that guttural accent at the end.

       “So?”

       She muttered something in French.

       “What?”

       She frowned at me. “People don’t talk about love on Sunday. It eez God’s day.”

       “Maybe you should teach me some more French.”

       She slapped the magazine shut and pushed herself up from the chair, all arms and legs.

       “Where are you going?”

       “Ze bedroom. Come,” she said, gliding past me. The utter embodiment of physical grace.

       We went to bed and had the worst sex we’ve probably ever had. That probably anybody ever had. We didn’t talk on Monday, and Tuesday morning she was gone.

       Most people would probably say that Monday is the worst day of the week, and that I’ve just proved it. But it’s still Sunday that I hate the most. If we had had that conversation and that terrible sex on a Monday, we could have blamed it on being Monday. On anything, really. I would have been skipping work—it would have been romantic and spontaneous. But we did it on “God’s day”. It was like he designed a day on which Inès and I were destined to fuck each other to kingdom come and God Almighty would still come out on top. I don’t know that Inès was ever religious, but what chance did I have? I was not her god. And it wasn’t even because I was just an average guy. I was Spenser Staten, the yacht guy. The ticket, the bridge, the rope, getting man-handled and stepped on until she’d reached the other side. But to me there was no other side. No matter how I craned my neck I could only have knowledge about what was above and what was below.

       It’s clever, really. Calling Sunday rest. You let your guard down. You think you can be Jean-Pierre or Clark or Sebastian during the week and on Sunday no one will know that you’re really Spenser Staten, the yacht guy. But the Alpha and Omega does. And he’s fucking your French wife while you rest on the fact that you’re Spenser the yacht guy. Well, I won’t be resting anymore. I’ll rest when I’m dead. Which, admittedly, could be soon, given all the blasphemy I’ve been spouting.

      Ah well. Tomorrow’s Sunday. Maybe I’ll go sit on the veranda.

 

Copyright © Caitlin Skvorc, 2014; Cait Buxbaum, 2019

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