|Photo Credit: Morguefile by Jade|
This week's post is a task set by Beth, aka Word Nerd. The assignment: to write a short piece first from the first person and then from the third. I decided to write fiction and to attempt, for once, to write from a male point-of-view. See what you think.
Monday I woke up to the bomb blast of an alarm rupturing the dark. The alarm sat on a nightstand across the bed—on the other end of an emptiness where covers lay almost undisturbed, a pillow still neat and fluffed, a vacancy. I dragged myself there on my abdomen, like a pissed-off nudibranch or a purposeful caterpillar, in search of the button. I hit snooze instead of cancel. God fucking damn it. Behind me lay wrinkled sheets coiled up about my body like foam around a rock, the neatness of her absence now despoiled. 5 AM. The first words from my lips a curse.
Downstairs, the coffee was brewing. I had needed to remember to set it up last night. That was her job. She set up coffee. I unloaded dishes. How bizarre it seemed now that a marriage should be so much of classroom job assignments and so little of holding hands and jumping together in falling leaves, screwing in hot tubs and pouring out the contents of one another’s soul. Neglect to unload the dishwasher and forget about a smile from your teacher, much less a slap on the ass.
Monday morning Ethan woke like every Monday morning, angry. Maybe angrier than usual. Maybe sad as well. He beat up his alarm clock as if his arm were the extension of a baseball bat. For all his rage, he appeared impotent—a bedraggled man of forty-five, with hair in need of cutting and a face that needed shaved, attacking banal technology as if it might have been the cause of all his ire. He sat upright for a bit and stared hauntedly at his bedroom, at his king-sized bed, now gone to wreck, and then scooted off the mattress and stood, tucking anger under hospital corners of control, to straighten the sheets. When the bed was restored to perfection, he left the room.
Downstairs, the coffee was brewing for Ethan. A cat mewled outside and he didn't hear. Lisa let the cat in every morning, fed it, petted it. Ethan hated cats. He simply didn't hear it. It wasn't there. He had put in too much of the grounds and they had leaked into the carafe, had settled into mud. He didn't see this either. He didn't smell the off-ness of the turning cream. He poured it into his coffee and it rose to the top, forming solid pieces of corruption. He took a sip and then stared at what he was drinking. For a moment, a look of realization was etched upon his lined and tired face, as if frozen in time, coffee in hand, still. He stood this way, second after second, unbearably still. Then, slowly, Ethan lowered the coffee to the counter. A tear rolled down his cheek.