Azalea Martine’s Daily Schedule
Every morning at 6:30, Azalea Martine wakes up and throws back the covers. She opens the blinds and windows before freshening up in a bathroom with walls the color of sun-bleached grass. At 7:10 John Martine watches his wife, Azalea, make oatmeal and bacon for breakfast while he taps his fingers on the tabletop and debates telling her the nightgown she’s wearing makes her look fat.
At 7:30 Azalea Martine cleans up the breakfast dishes and turns her cheek to the side when John kisses her goodbye. He didn’t come home last night, but she doesn’t complain to him. At 7:40 she showers, does her hair and make-up, and gets dressed. She doesn’t complete the 10-minute exercise routine her sister, Agnes Merchant, suggested two days ago while Azalea sucked on her third cigarette in two hours. John wouldn’t notice if her hair caught fire while she stirred brownie batter in her pink slip.
At 8:05 Azalea Martine picks up a basket and begins straightening the living and dining room. She takes John’s slippers and throws them into the garbage pail because it’s the third time in two days he’s left them beside his chair. She ignores the ashtray, it’s hers.
At 8:25 Azalea Martine makes their bed and fluffs the pillows. She decides not to wash the sheets because they haven’t shared the same bed in four days and his pomade hasn’t dirtied the pillowcases. She steps on John’s blue suit jacket on her way to the door and doesn’t stoop to retrieve it.
At 8:30 Azalea Martine stops paying attention to the time, drops her basket in the middle of the hallway, and wanders back to the kitchen.
At 8:31 Azalea Martine opens the cabinet underneath the sink and pulls out a half-empty bottle of red wine. She uncorks it and takes a big swallow.
She will drink until 10 and then wipe down the kitchen work surfaces. She might even pour boiling water down the sink to flush the pipes.
The grocery shopping will have to wait until tomorrow.
Azalea Martine makes a mental note to pick up flour. She only has half a cup left.
A Bottle of Daddy’s Laughter
I tore Daddy’s bedsheets five days after he died, and his birthday card I tossed into the trashcan with the banana peels and spoilt pork chops.
“They’re doing a lot with wax dummies,” Aunt Mamie said with a cigarette gripped between her fingers. “Didn’t look a thing like your daddy. Hair’s different, that ain’t his hair.”
I ignored Aunt Mamie. To her the world hadn’t been right since Elvis and Priscilla divorced.
“Bet your mama buried him with that gold ring.” Mamie whistled through yellow teeth. “It’d fetch some big cash at Pete’s. You know Pete, don’t you? We used to date way back when dirt was new.”
Yeah, I knew Pete. The filthy old man shoved his hands up my pleated skirt when I was seven, but I never told Daddy.
“It was your mama that killed him.” Mamie flicked ash onto a cracked green saucer. “Your mama worked him to death, worked my brother right into the grave. I told him Audrey was bad news. Don’t trust them girls with red hair, they’re evil.”
I unscrewed the cap on the vanilla extract and drank. The taste smelled like Daddy’s laughter.
Rebecca Buller is a native Oklahoman. She was the Second Writing Prize Winner of the Dream Quest One – Winter 2016 – 2017 Contest and a Semifinalist in the 2016 New Millennium Writings competition. She works for an insurance company and enjoys writing fiction and poetry in her spare time.