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The Perfect Housewife This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Just when it started shedidn't know. The beginning did not matter; all that mattered was that it washere. At first she tried to push it away by playing with her children and readingthem stories. She would spend all afternoon preparing extravagant dinners, buteven concentrating on baking didn't make it leave. After a month, she justaccepted it. After another month, she embraced it. And a month after that, sheloved it.

It was especially nice at tea time. The ladies got sounbearably dull, so why shouldn't she just let it come? Slowly, of course, sothey wouldn't notice. She didn't think they noticed, at least. They only said afew times how odd she had been acting or asked if she had a headache. Kate justsmiled and said she did not. They had tea every day at three o'clock sharp. TodayKate arrived at 3:05. But the colors were just so beautiful! It was like beingcarried on the wings of a tropical butterfly. She could feel the wind blowingthrough her hair as they flew, so of course she was late. Did they expect her toignore it? It was a beautiful secret, full of passion and joy; it was almost likehaving a love affair. Yes ... a love affair. That described itperfectly.

The ladies looked at each other when she entered, for no onewas ever late to tea. Kate decided they looked like buzzards, buzzards with rubylips and painted eyes. What was she supposed to tell them? She couldn't say shewas having a love affair, that wouldn't be proper. And, they would think of adifferent kind of love affair than the kind she meant. And she certainly couldn'ttell them about the colors. They were hers! Kate laughed, "Children got in alittle squabble." The ladies laughed and said, "Of course, thechildren!"

Purple always came first, maybe because it was the girls'favorite. The girls have lots of purple sweaters. Oh! My bruises are alwayspurple! Except for last week when Danny hit me on the shoulder, that one wasblack with flecks of gray.

"Yes, I just about died when I saw herhair! What was she thinking?" one of the women whispered. They alwayswhispered, as if the object of the gossip was standing just behind the door. Thewhispers sounded like the flutter of moths in a hot room.

Red came next.Red faces, red eyes, red blood. Red was one of the strongest. This time it hither like a slap and she burst out laughing. The ladies stared. She didn't care;red gave too much pleasure to care about the buzzards. Red was a wild, hot painthat spread through her like fire through a forest. She was thankful that it wasa fast pain and not the slow, cold pain that used

to bethere.

"I know it, Gracie! I sometimes wish Tom had a job like Kate'shusband and took business trips, you know? Sometimes we just need time toourselves, don't we, ladies? Maybe to get our hair done."

"Or apedicure!" The ladies sighed and put more lumps of sugar in their teacups.

Oh, why does red have to end so quickly? But yellow is nice, too.

"Kate, honey, are you feeling okay?"

She smiled. Theywant to know if I'm okay? I'm perfect! Red just ended and yellow iscoming!

"Why, I'm doing just fine."

The ladies puckeredtheir lips, sipped their tea, and glanced at each other

"We justnoticed you seem a little absent-minded. "

"Greta, leave Katealone. She says she's fine, and I'd be a little absent-minded too, if I had sevenchildren!"

The ladies laughed, and Kate did, too.

"Whatlovely children, so sweet and polite. You are just so lucky, Kate, to have somany wonderful children."

Kate smiled. The yellow was here. It camelike a tremble, like shock waves. Had a nice slow numbness. It was nice to benumb. Oh, the children. The youngest was two, wasn't she? Yes, two. That means 16years. That's a long time.

But as long as the colors stay. She smiled atthe thought of her colors, beside her for the years she had left. Then it wouldbe over. The colors would make them fly by, probably. They would be beside herwhen she woke up, right next to her on the bed, between her and her husband. Hecouldn't reach her with the colors between them.

The colors alwaysfound the most perfect spots, always giving shelter. What was yellow? Ahh,dishwater.

"What about you, Kate?"

She looked upabruptly. All the ladies were staring again.

"What did you want to bewhen you were young? I said a hairdresser," Mary prompted.

"Apainter," Kate replied. And paint beautiful fields of flowers! Purple, redyellow, green. Ahhh, green.

"How marvelous! Do you stillpaint?"

Kate smiled. "There's not enough time for that with thechildren and Danny."

The ladies smiled with understanding on theirfaces.

"Well, one has to get rid of frivolities in order to be agood housewife! And you're the perfect housewife, Kate."

Green.Green was the color of Maria's face before she threw up all over the carpet lastweek. Was it that bad to clean up? It used to be. But now it was just grass! Thatcarpet was grass, the roads were grass, the sidewalks all grass. I wonder whenthey switched from concrete to grass? I bet I'm the only one who noticed. Shesmiled and hugged herself with her secret. Everything was green grass and no oneknew it!

"I know it! What can possess a woman to think like that?Running off with another man, it's immoral!"

"It'stragic!"

"It's filthy!"

"It'swicked!"

The ladies went back to whispering; after all, theimmoral-tragic-filthy-wicked lady could be listening beneath the window.

Kate stared out the window and felt orange. Orange was like a settingsun, the finish, the close. Orange left a vacancy and purple was slow to return.It would be here before she got home though. It had to be.

Well, the sunis down, the end is here, in 16 years at least. Or maybe it'll be the beginning.How old will I be then? Forty-six. Over half my life will be gone. Well, life isjust a blur of colors anyway, and I hope it stays that way. Just my colors andme. She hugged herself and stood up.

"Leaving already,Kate?"

"Yes, I've got to make dinner."

"Well,good-bye, dear. And remember, tomorrow at three!" the ladiescalled.

The door shut behind her.

"What a sweet youngwoman."

"Yes, did you see her laugh and smile whenever wementioned her family?"

"She must be very proud of them and lovethem dearly!"

"Well, every good housewifedoes."

"What a happy life she has! Lucky girl."

Theladies all agreed.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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fall_from_grace said...
Dec. 27, 2009 at 11:05 pm
this is wonderfully written, but by the confidence in it I assume you know that. I really enjoyed it. It brought to mind "Story Of an Hour" you should read it.
 
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