This is the first 700 or so words of a short story I've been working on. Please, enjoy, and if you want to continue reading, please follow the link at the bottom of the page to my personal blog. I will put a red asterix *where the story left off, so you can find it easily.
That Man Might Live
I stared at the smooth dark table my father made for me when I moved out of the house seven years ago. It was the only thing he passed on to me, besides my woodworking skills. I was different from him in every other way. He died a poor, miserable old man, and I didn’t miss him, though I knew I probably should.
“Did you hear me?”
“Yes,” I said.
I looked up at Mary. Her arms were crossed over her chest, her pale pink lips pressed together tightly. The crease in her forehead--only there when she was upset--was deeper than usual, interrupting the flow of her smooth, porcelain skin. Her dark blue eyes appeared black as they watched me from beneath thin, dark eyebrows.
“Don’t you have anything to say about it?”
I looked down at my tan hands, which were crossed over the table. “No.”
My eyes moved to her face, the muscles in my arms tense, and my stomach turning the fish and matzah I ate for dinner uncomfortably, making me want to vomit. “I’m not angry. But I wish you would respect me enough to tell me the truth.”
A small tear ran down her cheek. She brushed it away and re-crossed her arms. “I am telling you the truth.”
“You expect me to believe you’ve never been unfaithful to me?”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“I thought I did.”
“Well, what’s changed?”
I stared at her still-flat stomach, the words unable to leave my lips.
The next morning, I arose early so I could be at the site before it got too hot. Building houses during the middle of the summer--never a fun job--paid the bills and helped me get my mind off things.
I pulled on my dirty pants and my snap-button shirt, grabbing a baseball hat to cover my messy black hair. I would shower after I got home from work. Buckling my tool belt around my waist, I headed out the door, ready for a day of manual labor and great distraction.
The Pennsylvania sun shone brightly outside my apartment, and as I walked to work, my mind wandered back to the summer, three years ago, when I first met Mary. I had been working in Allentown, which was 8 miles down the road. The kosher deli she worked at was a block away from our site, and while eating most of my lunches there, I managed to get to know the quiet but charming girl putting herself through grad school. Those were simpler times.
Most of the guys were already there by the time I arrived. Andrew seemed to spot me first and cat-called, his dark chest already obnoxiously bare, despite the chill that still clung to the morning.
“Look who slept in this morning,” he said, rubbing his abs with his already filthy hands.
“Morning,” I said. Usually, I was the first crewmember on site, but I wasn’t in the mood to talk about what had kept me up all night, especially not with Andrew.