The following story was written for the Furious Fiction contest for February 2020. I didn't win this one, but I made 'the list', beating out over 97% of the competition.
The guidelines were as follows:
'Furious Fiction celebrated its second birthday this month with just a quiet gathering of more than 1200 of its closest friends. That’s right, it was the second largest turnout ever, and these were the criteria on the table
- Each story had to include a GUARD of some kind.
Each story had to include the words NARROW, GOLDEN, LEATHERY and GLOSSY.
Each story’s first and last sentences had to each contain just TWO WORDS.
We had a lot of different guards – dogs, dragons, beaches, castles and fairy tales. Even guards at the gates of heaven or hell. We also had some interesting two-word sentences to open and close the stories. They didn’t have to be identical, but many stories (including the winner) chose to go that way.'
By S. W. Stribling
She chopped. I cooked. Byron guarded. This is how we made supper in our home.
Byron, our boxer, is in his very serious guard position, like a gargoyle statue. No one would ever guess he is, in fact, a timid sweetheart.
I look at my own sweetheart then, my wife. She is magic when it comes to chopping vegetables. There isn’t much to chop this evening, just a bit of garlic for the Alfredo, but she does it wonderfully.
Her narrow wrist almost seems glossy in the white light shining down. Her skin is a golden brown that most women would be jealous of.
I see her every day and pay almost no mind to her wrists. But when she is at the cutting board, it is all I can see.
An area that is so delicate, so gentle with its curves, wielding and controlling such a hard and fierce tool.
It is meditative to watch her play and use and turn the kitchen knife in her hand. Her hand that is manipulated by her wrist.
A wrist that has been with her since she was born. A strange, intriguing hinge of two bones connecting many, much like a family.
Byron, still standing guard, looks back over his shoulder to see how we are doing.
His gaze reminds me to put the butter in the skillet, but then I am back to my lover’s wrist. What has this wrist seen? What has it been through? It is a part of her I have kissed countless times. Yet, where was it before that?
No doubt she was a baby, and her mother once kissed those same wrists before pulling on her tiny mittens on a cold day. In high school, she cut her wrist with a pair of scissors. Her mom thought she was suicidal, but really she was just trying to shred up an old pair of jeans to make them cool again.
Yet today, she is natural and deft with her wrist to keep the blade steady at such speeds across the cutting board and through the garlic.
It is a gesture of grace to watch my lover’s wrist. A part of her that reminds me of how soft yet strong she is. A moment where I remember how much I love her.
Her wrist can reveal her reluctance or pleasure in whatever she is doing. It is when I realize how she has grown from a clumsy teenage girl to the perfected woman I have today.
I watch her wrist as she picks up the board and slides the garlic into the skillet. The butter crackles as the garlic falls in.
Her wrist right in front of me, I can see how it is starting to become slightly leathery with age. The storms that it must have weathered being attached to such a woman.
She is the only person in the world I can recognize by her wrist alone.
Byron guarded. I cooked. She chopped.