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Feithline K Stuart

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What's Good For The Goose
By Feithline K Stuart
Sunday, April 18, 2004

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Goose down pillows and coffee preferences make or break a marriage.

The first bus out of there was due at 6:15. She lay fetal in the semi-darkness, eyes on the big red numbers of the digital clock on the bedside table.

Darren was snoring softly, his arm draped heavily over the curve of her waist. He was sweating, as he always did in sleep, and the blend of his sweat and the goose down made an all-too-familiar scent fill the room. She'd always hated that smell. It hurt her nose, made her eyes water.

One time she brought home pillows stuffed with synthetic foam. She'd thrown the down pillows in the linen closet, slipped the old pillow cases over the new pillows, and hoped he wouldn't notice.

"What did you do with my down pillows, V?"
"I replaced them with new ones. The other ones were getting old."
"But these are synthetic. I hate synthetic pillows."
"Well, Darren, I dislike down pillows."
"So, why can't you use a synthetic one, and leave my down one well enough alone?"
"Well, I hadn't thought of that." she mumbled. She wanted to tell him that there was a strange alchemy going on between his sleep-sweat and goose down, but she didn't have the heart. She sprayed the down pillows with Febreeze and put them on his side of the bed.

It was about six months later that she left him, leaving a note pinned to those damned pillows, taking only a suitcase and her car keys with her. It took him three weeks to find her. She'd sworn her friends to secrecy, but one, Jude, broke under the pressure of finding a very distraught Darren standing with his forehead pressed against her door at one in the morning, drunk as anything, begging to know where Vivianne had gone.

He'd pounded on her door until she let him in. "Why?" was all he could manage in his inebriated state. He'd passed out on her second-hand futon shortly after his arrival, and she let him sleep it off. In the morning, she woke to the smell of coffee brewing.

"You're out of cream." he said as she shuffled into the kitchen in her bathrobe and knitted slippers.
"I don't use cream."
"You don't?"
"Darren, we were married for two years. In all that time, I never once put cream in my coffee."
"Oh."

He poured them each a cup and looked quizzically at her, the spoon in his hand hovering over the sugar bowl.

"Yes." She said. "One sugar. And a splash of low fat. It's in the fridge."

He'd cleared the dining room table of its collection of newspapers and take-out menus. They sat across from one another, mugs cupped in their hands, not looking at one another.

"So, are you coming back?"
"I don't think so."
"Can you tell me why?"
"I think...No. I know. I'm not happy, Darren."
"Not happy because of me?"
She gripped her mug tightly and took a deep breath.
"Well, for starters, Darren, you don't know what I take in my coffee."
"I don't think I understand."
"You don't know me, Darren. You don't seem to care to..."
"That's not true ! I do know you, Vivi..."
"I hate that nickname. I hate when you call me 'Vivi' or 'V'. My name's Vivianne."

He pushed away from the table and got up in frustration, running his hands through his already disheveled hair. "But, Vivianne, you never told me that, did you? You never told me what you take in your coffee, either. You never tell me anything! You just nod and smile and what? I'm supposed to read your mind? I'm supposed to guess what you take in your coffee? I'm supposed to guess by which name you prefer to be called?"

Vivianne sat wide-eyed, her coffee untouched, her mouth open in surprise. He was right. She'd never complained. She'd never told him it bothered her.

"You're right. It was unfair of me to expect you to know, but Darren, if I felt comfortable with you, with us, don't you think I'd have said something? I've never been comfortable. I've never really been myself in any of this. You were...you seemed like a good idea at the time. I thought we were right for one another, but I think..."

He strode to where she was sitting and went down on his knees in front of her, took her hands and guided her so she was sitting with her knees facing him. He cupped her hands in his and looked up into her face. "Vivianne, don't do this, please. Come home. I know how you like your coffee now. I'll never call you V or Vivi again. You can tell me anything, and I promise I'll listen. I want to know you. I want us to work."

She was shaking her head, and her mouth opened to form the word "No", but he raised his finger to her lips before she could say it.

"Just think about what you're doing, would you please? Just give it some time before you decide."

He slipped on his shoes without untying the laces, kissed her on the forehead and left, being careful not to slam the door behind him.

***

Two weeks later, the car broke down. She called him at work and asked him to come get her.

"The car's been towed to the mechanic. I wouldn't ask, but Jude is away visiting her parents and there's no one else..."
"I'm so glad you called. I'll be right there."

They cooked dinner together in their kitchen that evening, consumed two bottles of Yellow Tail Shiraz, which he'd always assumed was her favorite.

"Is it your favorite, Vivianne? If it isn't, I can go get something else."
"It is my favorite."

He began to julienne the carrots, taking immense care in ensuring they were uniformly sized before stopping mid-stroke.

"Do you want these julienned, Vivianne? Or should I be cutting them some other way?"
"Actually, save the julienned ones for the salad. Slice the ones for dinner Chinese style."
He beamed. She beamed back. They toasted one another and kissed quickly, awkwardly.

After dinner, Darren made coffee and brought hers in to her - one sugar, a splash of low fat. They curled up on the couch together and he started flicking through the channels.

"Do you even want this on, Vivianne? Is there something you'd rather be doing?"

She was overcome. All evening, he'd begun doing all the things he'd always done, but then, he'd stop and inquire, make certain she was all right with it. She was so accustomed to feeling near invisible, to nodding and smiling at whatever decision was made on her behalf. He wanted to know her. He was trying so hard. She felt something shift in her chest, as though her resistance was making room for affection, for comfort.

"This is fine, Darren. And thank you..."

He kissed the top of her head a little self-consciously and then both her cheeks, her eyelids, the curve of her jaw. The television flickered, forgotten in the dim as he pressed her with kisses and questions.

"Do you like this, Vivianne? Do you like it when I touch you like this? When I kiss you here?"

He licked the tears from her cheeks and when he stood to guide her to their bed, he did not need to ask.

***

Six fifteen. She rose as quietly as she could, shifting beneath the weight of his arm slowly, hoping she wouldn't wake him. He caught her arm just above the wrist.

"Where are you going?"
"I should go home."
"You are home."

He drew her back into bed, and she let him. He fit himself to her curves and held her tightly, his mouth pressed against her ear.

"What's your favorite color, Vivianne?"
"Green."
"Do you have a favorite perfume?"
"Yes. Opium. Your mother bought me some for Christmas last year."
"Mmmm. It's perfect for you, isn't it? You always smell so good." He pressed his nose against the nape of her neck and inhaled deeply, smiling broadly when he felt her shiver.
"Do you have a favorite author?"
"It changes all the time."
"Who's your favorite at the moment?"
"Monique Proulx."
"She wrote that Heart book, right?"
"Yes. She's from Quebec."

They were silent for a while. Darren was brushing the curve of her waist with his fingertips.

"Darren?"
"Yes, love."
"Do you have a favorite author?"

It occurred to her that she knew things like what shirt size he wore, his inseam, that he preferred boxer briefs to anything else, that he loved cotton, hated tomato soup, took cream in his coffee, but that she had no idea who his favorite author was, what kind of music thrilled him, who he'd shared his first kiss with.

"I don't, really. It changes, like yours."
"Who's your favorite of the moment?"
"We are. You and me. And what we're writing now, with all these questions, this is my favorite story."

She smiled. He kissed her shoulders softly. It had been a long, long time since they'd lain like this, fitted together like spoons. She was always the first to fly up and out of bed, to trudge downstairs to make coffee.

"What's that smell?" He asked. He rose up on one arm, sniffing the air, his nose crinkling.
She laughed and turned over to pound the pillows he loved so much.
"This" she said, as she picked one up and rubbed his nose in it. "is that smell. These god awful pillows stink to high heaven."
"My god. That's awful. How could I never have noticed before?"

He flew out of bed and grabbed the jeans he'd left in a puddle by the bedside.

"Where are you going?"
"We" he said as he zipped up "are going pillow shopping."

)0(

This is the second in a series of stories written for the "S.A.W." or Story A Week challenge at Get Your Sauce On. It was very fun to write.

       Web Site: Get Your Sauce On

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Reviewed by Marie Wadsworth 5/9/2004
Lol. Tami sent me this via AD broadcast. I must admit I skimmed this but I found it to be highly delightful. I too write romance stories and I like your style. This certainly has sauce, but I think my serial (Sexy Bedtime Stories) does too (if you're interested check it out at www.authorsden.com/mariewadsworth.
This is a good story. I think you should submit it. It's hot.
Write on.
Marie
Reviewed by Tami Ryan 5/8/2004
What a wonderful, absolutely delightful romantic tale. I loved this. Thank you so much for the smile. You have a new fan :)

Tami





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