“White Roses” for #SaturdayScenes

White Roses

This May, I submitted three entries of 1,000 words or less each to the Mormon Lit Blitz. I’ve already talked about each story I submitted in my blog post about the Lit Blitz at the end of May, so you may read about them there. By the first couple of weeks in June, the results were in. My “Riffs on Korihor’s Testimony” earned a spot among the 24 semi-finalists, but didn’t make it among the top twelve. However, there is talk that the editors may put together an e-book of all 24 semi-finalists. That would be great. There were many worthy writers among them.

But today is about “White Roses,” one of my entries that didn’t make the cut. The situation is one that’s difficult to handle in 1,000 words, so it may undergo some revision in the future. But I do think it has its strengths. Read it and let me know what you think?

White Roses

Corry was waiting at the kitchen table when Lot entered from the garage. She’d had an hour to process what she’d just learned about him. She’d also had her mom come get the two children.

She didn’t greet him. She just watched as he removed his wingtips and then put his slippers on. He still looked flawless, even after a day of managing his clients’ wealth.

They’d been married five years. Her photography had supported him through his senior year of college and then business school. His recent promotion had allowed them to buy a home on the bench overlooking Utah Valley. He’d been a kind husband and father, if not a little too perfect. Their life was just getting off the ground. As usual, he hadn’t closed the garage.

“Honey,” Lot said, when he noticed her, “who is that woman in the Mustang parked out front? Virginia tags.”

Corry dropped the tissue she’d been squeezing onto the others piled against the Kleenex box in front of her. The used tissues reminded her of the roses Lot would get her every anniversary. He insisted on white roses.

“Shut the garage.”

The woman had accused Lot of things and given Corry three unopened letters. Corry had told her to leave, but she said she’d wait for him.

Lot closed the garage and then set his briefcase down. Corry tucked the letters she’d ripped open and read under the tissue box so he wouldn’t see them.

“You’ve been crying,” he said, sitting down beside her. “Are you all right? What did she want?”

Standing up, she turned away from him and looked out the French doors at the deck and the manicured lawn where they’d recently hosted a barbecue party for ward members.

“Her name is Arizona and she wants child support, Lot. She can’t afford a lawyer, so she came herself. She says you have an eight-year-old son. He’s with her, too.”

“No, that’s not true,” he said. “She would’ve told me.”

“She did,” Corry said, facing him, then bringing the letters out. “You should have read these instead of sending them back.”

She tossed them on the table in front of him. Lot sat still.

“You didn’t even open them?”

“I didn’t want anything to do with her.”

“Funny how your past catches up with you, isn’t it? She got your address from your brother. She wrote the first one shortly after you left for the MTC. It says she’s sorry that what you two did made you upset, but she likes you. The second one, dated a month later, says she’s missed her period and she’s worried, wants you to come home. She never told your parents, because they didn’t know her from Eve, and probably wouldn’t have believed her. The third one she writes in all caps. She calls you dirty names, says she’s desperate, and that she’s eloping with the boyfriend she was on the outs with when she met you, so her parents don’t kill her. She told him he’s the father.”

“So the boy isn’t mine.”

“Wait, let’s rewind. You went on a mission, having just slept with a girl a week before?”

Lot stood, turned away, and stared at the wall of family pictures.

“Some wild, non-member friends from high school had a farewell party for me. They set me up with her. I’d never met her before that night. She came on strong. It happened so fast. I’ve been trying to forget it ever since. I just couldn’t disappoint my parents.”

“Unbelievable.” Corry sat down. She grabbed a tissue, but was past tears now. “I’ve heard of duplicitous people, but you’re picture perfect.”

“Honey, I’ve–”

“Don’t. You told me you were worthy. You took me to the temple and made covenants with God and me when you’re nothing but a cheater. How could you?”

“I’ve been repenting ever since,” he said, swinging around, tearful. “God knows what I’ve suffered because I was too proud to confess to my bishop, to anyone. That’s why I struggle so much against imperfection, so that one sin might be erased.”

“You don’t even get the Atonement. What makes you so special that you don’t have to repent like ordinary sinners?”

“I’m not, hon,” he said, lowering himself into the chair beside her. He reached for her hand, but she folded her arms. “I’m scared of that. Losing what we’ve created together. Our marriage, our family, our home. It’s who I’ve been for you that counts.”

“What am I supposed to do?” Corry said. She pulled apart the tissue she held. “The boy is yours, Lot. I’ve seen him. He looks just like you. Arizona didn’t know at first, but she suspected it over time. She says you’re the only other one she slept with. I believe her. She and the other guy are divorced now, but it wasn’t about that. Her parents won’t help. She has a crappy job, no support. You should have opened the letters. You should have married her. You need to take responsibility now.”

The doorbell rang. She stood.

“What are you going to do?” he said, reaching for her.

“I thought about going to my mom’s for a few days.”

“Corry, please,” he said, rising. “Think about the kids.”

“I have, Lot,” she said. “I thought about kicking you out, too.”

She went toward the front door and he followed.

The doorbell rang again. She put her hand on the knob and faced him.

“Have you been true to me otherwise?”

“Yes, I swear.”

He reached for her, but she brushed his hands aside.

“What I’m about to do is not forgiveness. Only God can grant that. But it should be interesting to see how you pull this off, Mr. White Roses. Besides, I like the neighborhood.”

Slouching, appearing contrite, he looked vulnerable for once. The doorbell rang again.

“Please. Be a man. Your past is calling.”

Then she opened the door for him to deal with it.

<<<THE END>>>

Read, Write, Execute!

Photo Credit: “Tiny Roses,” Katelyn Kenderdine, Flickr

Author: Michael Andrew Ellis

I write literary fiction at the confluence of Mormonism, Hmong culture, and the human condition. Here on my blog I write about Mormon arts and letters, Hmong history and culture, classic and contemporary literature, existentialism, and my journey as a writer.

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