An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.
He puts on the linen suit Wendy said would be so classy and perches a Panama hat on his head at a rakish angle. The mirror reflects a picture of sophisticated elegance, except for his expression. He forces his face into a smile; now, he is ready for the Beach Terrace Café reception.
‘This is where we will meet the right people,’ Wendy said.
He will do this for her because all he ever cared about was making her happy.
‘How do I look?’ Wendy appears in the bedroom doorway, dressed in lilac, the colour of old age. Her hat resembles the light shade his mother had on the standard lamp in their front parlour. A fusty room for entertaining guests who merited the best china, and where he would sit in polite formality, wishing he were anywhere else.
‘You look nice.’ What else can he say? He misses her ethnic prints and the bold palette of colours she used to wear. Now she favours the bland tones of safety and respectability.
His social smile fades as he escorts her along the greeting line. She simpers and air kisses with the best of them.
He remembers a time when Wendy drew attention with her shine and dazzle, and how she moved among people, not caring if she said the wrong thing or wore the wrong clothes.
Now she tries too hard, her smile is brittle, her laugh is too loud, and they brush her off like a fly from honey.
She bows her head, and he moves to her. ‘Don’t cry, Wendy.’
‘I am not crying; I’m angry with them and with me. What are we doing here?’
‘You insisted we come because making new and better friends was one of your conditions for us to start again.’
‘I was wrong.’ The sun disappears behind a cloud and Wendy shivers.
‘Shall we go home?’ He struggles to contain a burgeoning hope.
‘Take me back.’
‘Stay here. There’s something I need to do.’
He finds a dark corner in the bar and takes off his clothes, letting them fall to the ground. A waiter approaches him.
‘Sir, are you all right?’
‘Never felt better.’ He takes a drink from the tray and steps outside.
A woman screams and drops her glass. The throng of people stop talking and stare at him in silence, except for two children who giggle and point.
He winks at them and hands his drink to the woman. ‘There you go, enjoy!’
He strolls over to Wendy. ‘Are you ready?’
She nods but does not look at him. He crooks a finger under her chin and lifts her face to his.
The sun comes out, and Wendy smiles with a radiance that is blinding. She rips off her hat, takes his hand and they run, laughing, down to the sea.