Saturday, January 5, 2013

Short Story: "Patience"

From a conversation with myself:

ME: Fat boy!

ME: What?

ME: Write something!

ME: Mmkay.

ME: Write a bleak confusing pretentious story. Use confusing pretentious names that you found on the Fantasy Name Generator. Make the story about zombies in love! Bleak! Bleak!!

ME: How can you write a pretentious story about zombies in love?

ME: You will find a way. 


She lived by the ocean with her two dead sisters. She had forgotten her name, which was Troptai, but she remembered the names of her sisters, Teuphight and Thryettai. She had a husband but he was away.

On a Thursday morning in autumn she and her sisters were in the boat. She did not go far out into the ocean, as the boat's engine was weak. Teuphight sat in the bow with a rifle across her knees. Thryettai lay on the bottom of the boat, staring at the gray sky. The sea was calm, and she saw many fish swimming underneath them. From time to time Teuphight would point her rifle at the water, at one of the passing fish, but then she would lay it again across her knees and sigh. When she sighed  steam billowed from her mouth.

After three hours spent drifting Troptai spoke to Teuphight.

“When will you shoot?” she asked.

Thryettai, still lying on the bottom of the boat, answered: “She shall not shoot today. Many of the dead men in the water.”

Troptai peered over the gunwale. “Oh,” she said, and covered her mouth with her hand.

The man swam without making waves. Around him the water lay as flat and as calm as the water in a well.

“He was handsome,” said Teuphight.

She watched as the man swam to the boat, unhurried. His long gold hair swam in the water with him. He rested his pale hand next to the oarlock. He smiled at Thryettai, who regarded him coyly.

“She would shoot me?” the man asked Thryettai, nodding his sodden head toward Teuphight and her rifle.

“She is hunting. Or fishing rather,” said Thryettai.

“Has she caught anything?”


“Will she catch anything with that strange pole?”

Thryettai tittered.

“Why does that woman hold a skull?” the man asked Thryettai.

Troptai moved her hand to the engine. “I believe we will leave now,” she said. “Hold on if you would like a ride back.”

“If you please,” said the man.

“I would have him overnight,” said Thryettai.

“I would have him overnight as well,” said Teuphight.

Troptai sighed.

She motored them back to the shore, the blonde man trailing in the water next to them, never once asking why he could not get into the boat. Troptai was glad that her sisters had not insisted that he ride with them, instead of in the water with the fish. Perhaps they had sensed that they were asking much by insisting that he stay overnight, and were giving their sister a courtesy by not demanding that he sit in her husband's boat. Once on the journey back, Thryettai caressed Troptai's hand in thanks.
They ate dinner. Aterward, Troptai spoke with Thryettai. 
“He is to be my husband,” said Thryettai. “I have spoken to Teuphight and we have an agreement.”

“You do?” asked Troptai.

“Yes. He is with her as we speak, walking along the stone wall. He explains this to her.”

“Does he?”

“He is my Philip!”

“That is his name?”

Thryettai giggled and slapped Troptai on the wrist. “Patience was rewarded,” she said. “God sent me this man.”

“He did?”

“Stop asking me questions!” quailed Thryettai as she trotted to the window.

They were silent for some time. Troptai listened to the ocean, to the smashing of the waves on the shore, and heard no more dead men in the waves. She breathed a sigh, her breath white in the cold air.

“They come back,” said Thryettai.

“They do?”

Thryettai pressed her face against the window. “And they are...they are...” She did not finish her statement, but she sobbed and threw her body against the window.

In alarm Troptai walked to her sister.

“They are hand in hand,” said Thryettai.

Troptai held her sister, who sobbed and sobbed, until Teuphight and Philip arrived back at the house. When they came through the kitchen door Troptai restrained Thryettai, who became enraged and threw herself at them.

When Thryettai was calm, Philip spoke.

“I shall marry Teuphight,” he said.

“What about me?” demanded Thryettai.

“Things change.”

“They do,” said quiet Teuphight.

“Change it!” shouted Thryettai, grabbing Troptai's shoulders and shaking her. “Change it change it change it!”

“I cannot,” said Troptai.


“I cannot,” she repeated.

“Aaagh!” cried Thryettai, and threw herself toward the rifles hanging near the door.

She was fast with the rifle. Troptai heard the bolt thrown and a round chambered. Philip put himself in front of Teuphight. "No!" he cried. "What are you doing?"

The shot deafened all and the smoke filled the air like white ghosts.

“Dear God,” said Troptai. 

"Boo hoo," said Thryettai. 

Philip looked down at the hole in his chest.

“Why?” he asked.

“I hate you,” said quiet Teuphight.

Philip prodded at the hole with tentative hands. He sighed, then his laughter filled the room like the sound of rolling cannonballs. 

"It's not funny!" shrieked Thryettai.  

“So you would do this from passion?” he asked, swinging his blonde hair as he tilted his head back to laugh. “You would do this?”

Thryettai mewled and dropped the rifle. She reached her arms pathetically out to him.

“If you would do this – out of your love for me, out of your great love – than I will come back to you! I will marry you!” shouted Philip.

“Oh God,” said Troptai.

“But,” said Teuphight.

Philip strode over to Thryettai. He embraced her. His golden hair covered her head as if it were binding them together.

“I love you!” said Philip.

And Teuphight held the rifle. She pointed it at the back of Philip's head.

Troptai was already out of the room, running upstairs to get the skull. 
In her room she thought about her husband. His name had been Jeremiah. Jeremiah stood six feet tall and weighed two hundred pounds, and he would row them out to sea every once in awhile, so that they could shoot fish. Thryettai and Teuphight always would be waiting for them when they came back. Thryettai would talk to Jeremiah as they trudged back on the sand and Teuphight would cook whatever fish they caught in half-smiling silence as she listened to Jeremiah talk to Thryettai and laugh as they drank a full bottle of wine together.

She located the skull and brought it downstairs.

Philip sat at the table, clutching his head. The gun had taken his eye and his skull glistened through the terrible wound. Thryettai sat on the floor, head in hands, weeping. Teuphight stood next to the door, squeezing the rifle, causing her knuckles to shade alternately pink and white.

“Rarely have I encountered such passion,” said Philip.

“Are you going to grant him what you granted us?” demanded Thryettai through her tears. “He is my husband! He will be my husband!”

“No,” said Troptai, and moved first to quiet Teuphight, who held the gun.

Troptai pressed the skull to Teuphight's head. The dead sister showed no surprise at this. She collapsed on the floor and steam flowed from her mouth, mingling with the gunsmoke. 

“No no no don't do that to me!” cried Thryettai.

Troptai moved across the floor, brushing against Philip's shoulder. She leaned down to Thryettai and placed the skull against her other dead sister's head.

Thryettai was quiet.

Troptai sighed. She listened to the inhale, exhale of the ocean pulsing inward and outward across the grains of the sand. She inhaled and exhaled and thought of Jeremy. She caressed the skull.

She sat down next to Philip.

Philip stared at her with his good eye. For a long while they regarded each other.

“So,” he said. “Will you marry me?”

She pressed the skull to his head.

After that, she went outside into the night. The loud sea greeted the boat as she motored out into the darkness, churning white wake behind her. She thought of the night that she and her husband had gone out into the water, and he had told her of what he must do. She remembered the tears on her face like saltwater. She remembered rowing back alone except for the moon's reflection at her feet.

It was not an hour before another man came to the boat.

“Hello,” he said, his black eyes running with saltwater. “My name is Mooney Randall.”

“Hello, Mooney,” she said, and threw the skull off of the boat. It landed behind Randall and sunk into the water like the reflection of a full moon. When Randall sunk back into the water she went back to the shore. After tying up the boat she walked the beach, hand in hand with nobody.

Before dawn she had forgotten her husband's name. 



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