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Knitting Fiction

Chapter 20: Irene, Even Long Games Must End

Published on: February 2, 2023

Irene wrapped her positive pregnancy test in toilet paper—around and around—over and over. She opened the lid of the metal feminine sanitary box and dropped it in with the used tampons and pads. Still sitting on the toilet, she buried her face in her hands and wept and laughed. And wept. And laughed.

     She had stopped at the grocery store on the way to work so that she could pick up the fresh asparagus for tonight’s dinner. She used the store's restroom before she left. That's because this morning, as for each morning this past week, she had awakened gagging. She had had to take a long, quiet inhale in an attempt to calm her vomit reflex, had lain still, and listened to the sleep-breathing of The Mistake. Then slowly, ever so slowly, with as few movements as possible she had gotten out of bed and slipped into her waiting bathrobe and slippers. She had swallowed her own vomit while taking one controlled step after another down the stairs. The night before she’d left the back door unlocked so that she could open it quietly and step out onto the stoop. The headlamp was in her robe pocket and she had used it to light her steps as she’d made her way to the back of the garden. There she had leaned over the shallow pit she had dug the day before, and let loose of the vomiting. 

     When The Mistake carried her over the threshold on their wedding day, he told her, “Everything will be different from now on. From here on, nothing will be the same.” In Irene’s mind her life was divided by the threshold. Her “before the threshold” life was over and her “after the threshold” life had begun. The positive pregnancy test constituted another line that had been crossed. Her “after pregnancy” life officially began this morning. She knew her Aunt Irene would agree—the long game was over.

  “I brought Cabernet for our dinner tonight,” he says turning his back to her while taking the bottle out of the paper bag, sitting it on the counter and opening it. 

     “Perfect choice, as usual,” she says while lighting the candles on the table. 

     He leaves the room to change out of his suit jacket and tie and she sets out the serving dishes and dims the lights. When they are seated and he is buttering his roll, he says, “Before you ask, I will tell you that I stopped at your knit shop today."

     “Oh really?”

     He is well into his chicken before he speaks again. “I met the old woman who will be teaching the class you want to take.”

     “Oh really?”

     “Yes, a real loser. A pig in a python. You could say ‘Ok boomer’ to her and she would not even know what you meant.” 

     “If she’s old, maybe that means she knows a lot about fixing mistakes?” she asks.

     “I signed you up for the class” he says. “Your knitting looks fine to me, but you can probably improve it.”

     “Oh,” she begins.

     “Don’t say 'Oh really’ again like some dimwit.”

     “Okay. Thank you for signing me up for the class,” she picks up her wine glass and holds it up toward him as a toast. “To my learning to fix mistakes,” she says.

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