“Goldie?” she said, leaning across the table, so her eyes were level with the pints’ rim. “Oh, that. That’s just something my parents called me. She does it on purpose. It’s a little embarrassing.”
The band in the back corner surged. Trumpets and drums.
“My real name? Dorothy. Yeah. I know. My parents were rebelling against fun, I guess.”
The waiter came and left with empty glasses and promises to be back soon.
“My mom’s french. But not from France. And the first few letters mean from gold. But with an apostrophe.”
“My name? Isn’t that what you asked about?
After the war he went west, instead of returning home. But what he sought was not there to find.
“No frontier left,” someone said, hunkered against a storm fence, hidden from the bulls’ eyes by chin high grasses. “If that was what you were out here looking for.”
His hand reached inside his jacket, fingers bending and straightening the unsent letter’s corner.
“Desires are fine,” a different someone said. “It’s the damnable actions we take to sate them that get us in trouble.”
The locomotive started from the station, whistling louder than artillery fire. He made his way north next.
5 PM, Thursday, May 18.
“She’s making me spend the summer out at the lake,” the postcard read, in his slanted handwriting. “There’s no way I can get out of it. I tried. I wish I could have told you in person, but there wasn’t any time. Please don’t be mad. I love you, you know. But it’s complicated.”
Jane turned the card over, studied the picture of children splashing in shallow water, smile pulling their faces apart. A caption in bright yellow letters was scribbled across the blue sky.
“Knee Lake. A Little Piece of Paradise.”
She tossed the postcard on the kitchen table.
10 AM, Monday, May 15.
“Not too much Nick,” Deputy Rollet said in answer to the cook’s question. “Enjoying the peace, before the season opens.”
Nick Bujak came out through the swinging doors, wiping his hands on a clean white apron.
“Think we’ll have a quiet one this year,” Nick said, pouring himself Rollet a cup of coffee. “Lotta the places up for sale.”
“Annie around?” Rollet asked?
“Gave her the day off. Family business.”
Rollet lifted the mug and waited.
“That nephew of hers,” Nick said after draining his cup. “So much trouble. Told her to bring him out here. I’d straighten him out.”
Toad carried the laundry basket outside. He set it down, and dug under the wet clothes. He pulled a dry shirt, sunset orange with wide-petaled white flowers, out and pinned it to the line.
“I see you put that shirt out every week,” his neighbour said, setting her half-empty glass on the shared fence. He could smell gin. “But the colours are still so vivid. How do you wash it?”
“Alone, on cold. Buttoned, and inside out,” he said. The neighbour nodded. Toad separated one grey sweatshirt from the bundle of the same colour, and hung it up to dry.
1 PM, Wednesday, May 17.
Alan Sacks sat on the front porch, holding a newspaper up, but too busy watching the town to have read a word.
The snow had retreated to the shadows, and the town slowly started out of its slumber. It was still a few days from the long weekend, but some people had snuck up early, eager to get their cottages open for the season. His store, the only one within twenty miles of the lake, would be getting busy.
But it wasn’t his store anymore, he reminded himself. He’d retired.
Sacks watched Annie, the waitress from Nick’s diner, walk by.
“There’s no other way to fall, but fast,” someone said, to a table of bent heads, and crooked elbows and empty paper cups.
“What about love?”
The table blew raspberries. Then flagging down the waiter, told him they’d decided they did want to try the cheesecake after all. But to only bring two pieces, five forks. They’d share.
“What do you mean?” someone else asked, pinching a corner of the cake between her finger.
“You can fall in love slowly.”
“Then you waded in love. You didn’t fall.”
“But they call it the same thing?”
“Then they’re wrong.”
Prompt courtesy of the Daily Post.