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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mrs. Madison and The Polka Dotted Tie

Category: Short Story

    The dining room was assembled as orderly as can be.  The bronze holders held the beeswax candle in place as the scent of honey perforated throughout the room.  The floral designed napkins and plates were placed parallel from one another.  It was six o’clock in the evening, and Mrs. Maple Madison waited patiently for her husband to pull up to the driveway like he always did after work.
    It was now seven and still to her dismay, not a sound from her husband’s tires which always crunched against the small pebbles outside the driveway.  She placed two ice cold glasses of water on the dining table.
Tonight more than any night, she had a surprise awaiting her husband.  While he was at work, she had spent most of the day crafting and designing a tie for him.  Repetitious cycles of laying down the silk, tracing the pattern with chalk,  sewing pieces together, and folding these pieces over one another had left her fingers brittle and tired. 
    Yet, she had an air of resilience and unmatched humility to her as she sunk herself into the recliner despite the fact that she had toiled for a good six hours on this one single tie without to mention another hour and a half on a scrumptious chicken-pot pie dinner for two. 
She placed the tie on her lap and was hypnotized by its dark blue fabric coupled with miniature light blue polka dots.  There she saw herself drifting downstream on one of those light blue polka dots like a raft making its way to a cascading waterfall. Just before she was able to see the overhead view, she was brought back to reality by the crunching of the pebbles around seven forty five.
  Mrs. Madison made her way to the bed post, and took out the gift box.  There with the same manner of devotion she had when she first crafted the tie; she delicately folded it into the box, hid the box under the bed, and made her way back to the dining room to greet her husband.
  “Hello darling,” she said.
  “Hello Maple,” he said while closing the front door behind him.
    He rarely calls me Maple, she thought. “Is everything ok, dear?”
  “Sure…why wouldn’t I be?” he asked back to her while sitting down on the dining room chair.
  “I dunno,” Maple shook her head.
  “So what’s for dinner?” he asked while observing the table decorations as well as two small puddles underneath both glasses of water.
  “I cooked up a delicious chicken pot pie for us, sound good dear?”  She made her way to rack up his jacket.
  “Sounds good to me,” he answered.
  “Well it’ll be ready to be served in a couple of minutes.”
  “Sounds good to me,” he said again.
  As Mrs. Madison finished racking up her husband’s jacket, a small piece of folded white paper fell out.  At first glance all she saw was a number, and assumed that it was most likely a number for work.  And being preoccupied as she was with getting the dinner ready for her husband, she set the paper on the kitchen counter.
Mrs. Madison turned the stovetop off and took the crockpot to the table where her husband sat gazing away for some time at a picture of Venice, Italy they had hung on the wall.
  “You sure everything is ok, dear?” she asked while refilling both their glasses with some ice.
  “Yes!” he yelled.  “Can you stop being so paranoid?”
    Mrs. Madison nodded her head in agreement while looking down at the chicken pot pie and serving it onto both of their plates.
  “Shall we?” She asked.
  “Yes,” her husband said as he thrusted his fork into the chicken pot pie. 
    Mrs. Madison and her husband had a quiet dinner together until she decided to bring back into discussion the surprise she had for him.
  “So do you wanna hear about my surprise I had for you dear?”
  “What is it?” He asked.
  “Well, I think I have for you what can get you to the top- to get you that promotion from desk worker to vice-president you have been looking for…”
  “And what’s that?” he questioned.
    “Hold on a second, I’ll go get.”
    “Ugh…” he griped as she made her way to the bedroom to get the tie.
    Mrs. Madison’s steps slowed down on her way to the bedroom as she contemplated whether or not she should take out the bottle of White Zinfandel she had stored in the fridge.  However, not wanting to celebrate her husband’s gift too early, she strode right to the bedroom.  After grabbing the box from the under the bedpost, she came back into the dining room to give it to her husband.
    He opened the lid and casted his eyes on the tie for about ten seconds.  Then, he looked back at his wife shaking the tie in the air.
    “Maple, how is a tie—- a simple tie going to get me a promotion all the way to vice president?”
    “No offense darling, but your taste in ties is well bland.  All of them are plain, either red or black with no patterns at all.” She said.
    “You think a Goddamn tie is the main reason why I have not gotten a promotion?”
    “Well…Tom” she tried continuing.
    “Don’t you well… Tom me.” You are ridiculous this time, Maple! I am going to bed.  You can come join me when you get your head screwed on straight.”  He said chucking her wife the tie while storming through the kitchen and knocking over some silverware en route to the bedroom.
    Mrs. Madison stunned in disbelief that her husband didn’t appreciate her gift and hours of sacrifice, took the dishes to the kitchen to be washed and scrubbed.  There she noticed that on the floor next to the forks and spoons was that small piece of paper with the number on it which fell out earlier from her husband’s jacket.  This time she unfolded it looking at the side opposite from where the number was written.  It read:

Hey Tom, Thanks for the fun last night.  You are welcome to stay over again any time you want.  My number is on the back.
Sally Shayes

  Mrs. Madison clenched her fists so tight that her nails dug into her palms.  The very thought of picturing her husband with Sally, his closest coworker, drove her to open the bottle of White Zinfandel from the refrigerator and start drinking it herself.  She took countless gulps and started to feel her chill veins warm like kindling first being sparked on a winter’s night.  Mrs. Madison put the near empty bottle on the dining room table and made her way back to the recliner.  There she picked up the tie and began to again stare at its depth of dark blue and richness of light blue polka dots. This time there was no interruptions.
  Her light blue raft gently floated down the stream and at last reached the dark blue peak.  Out on the horizon she saw the breathtaking landscape which she would always remember having with her husband.  It was of The Appalachian Mountains where they went hiking together for the first time.  It was also where they first became engaged.  Mrs. Madison could still hear the crackling of the trail leaves under their boots and could still smell the scent of the mountaintop honeysuckle blossoms. 
  Then, everything disappeared amidst a swarm of mist and crashing water.  Her raft surged right to the bottom of the canyon floor.
  She snapped out of her daydream to discover her cheeks and the top of her black blouse wet.  It was half past ten already.  After drying off with a kitchen towel, she made her way to the bedroom.
After some bouts of tossing and turning that night, she was finally able to go to sleep next to her husband.  The faintest snicker was the last sound heard in the room.  Never in all the time they had been together had she ever witnessed him with a tie so sharp and snugged to his neck, Mrs. Madison decided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Old Comments

  • I think this story could benefit from a second look at some of the author’s word choices and imagery, which could, in my opinion, be toned down in some places. Dialogue and narrative also both seemed unnatural at times; I would suggest reading the piece aloud—this always helps me find the spots in my work that don’t sound quite right.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/14  at  12:00 AM
  • Yikes, sorry—should’ve read the commenting instructions, as I now see this ought to go in the forum.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/14  at  12:02 AM
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