“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity," wrote T.S. Eliot. To help make productive use of our self-isolation and social distancing, Lit Cleveland is offering free writing challenges each week via our newsletter. The following piece is a response to the Parallax prompt.
by Jane Floriano Blackie
Jay was watching golf. It was real Spring there: bright green, dancy clouds, pastel jackets. No bad news on that screen.
Maeve already had her running shoes laced. She was stretching, face down, touching her knees, her dark pony tail an upside-down exclamation point. Jay had no idea how she did that.
It had been a long week of internet hysteria: their health or the economy or both were hovering in a shaky intake of breath.
But they tried to make good use of being inside, together. Getting a lot of work done. Turning out loaves of perfect sourdough. Having a lot of sex. Maeve was cleaning the storage area and he was hoping to get to the garage.
“Are they playing?” Maeve asked, incredulous. “Now?”
“Huh,” he gave a slight lift of his head to the side, the beginning of a beard scratching his shoulder, “Uh, no, no, it’s from a few years ago,” he said from the saggy couch in their tiny, shrinking living room. They called it their “trainer house.” They hadn’t figured out training for what.
“So, you’ve already seen it?”
“Uh, yeah.” He answered evenly. He was focused on the world on the screen.
“So, you already know who won?” she said amused.
“Um…” he watched a putt go long and gave an exasperated sigh.
“You said you’d go with me,” she was reaching up. “if you already know who wins, what’s the point?” she said as her arms came down and she flattened her hands on the old wood floor.
He loved this about her – her ability to pin him down, to cut through his crap. “Actually, I don’t remember.” He was happy not to know.
“Remember, we promised to get out, keep our immunity up?”
“Yeah. Okay, okay.” He didn’t get up.
He had said they were in this together, that if one of them went down the other would, too. After all, isn’t a relationship really about what you do when things get rough Isn’t that what her mother had told her after her father had walked out? Her father, who had failed the test.
“Please, Jay,” she said solemnly. “You promised.” She was standing still now.
He felt bad and looked over. She was typing energetically into her phone.
“Oh, no. Oh, no, no don’t do that, Maeve, please!”
She was hitting the keys with gusto. “So, winner, Masters 2015 – is that the right year?”
He was getting up now. “I’m going, I’m going…” he said as he hit the record button and high-tailed it with his hands over his ears, across the kitchen to the miniscule closet. “Don’t tell me, la, la, la,” he sang.
As he reached for his shoes, she called, “Are you in?”
“I’m in!” he answered definitively. The promise, a comfort in the wobbly world.