#141 Remains

by Dino Parenti

The widow never claimed her husband’s roadster when it was found one day breaching the snow below a cleavage of hillocks a year after he’d disappeared. It was presumed he’d gone AWOL to avoid the Great War, but the widow knew better; Carl wasn’t one to avoid a fight, so long as it was on his terms.

Being privy to neither of these traits, the town simply imposed their own explanations, which often heeded the path of least resistance. In those days, chatter always beat out intrusion.

Whatever triggered the widow’s subsequent annual excursions to the car however, nobody could say for certain, though the neighbors who’d driven her always noted the pressed lips, the balled fists, the occasional unwiped tear while glowering at the rusty carcass.

In its chaste condition circa 1912, the midnight-blue Model-T had been a vision to behold, unburdened by blemish or wear. But over time, the local ruffians and wildlife had had their way. The black smudges ringing the bullet holes, evoking mascara that had run with the elements. The sepia blood caking the rear upholstery where a fox had dropped her stillborn litter, forever festering.

All this she would absorb while keeping each seething concession and head-splitting resentment of Carl’s flight concealed from the world under stiff-backed pride.

Even at a hundred-and-two, clutching at the heap’s flaking hide with the gnarled hands of a lifelong pugilist, she could still feign dignity like she did at nineteen, the cords in her neck just as piano-wire-taut.

Dino Parenti won the 2012 Lascaux Flash contest—Ed.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I certainly understand why you won last year, Dino. Remarkable compression in capturing the widow's long life filled with resentment and stiff-backed pride over a husband's leaving. The car itself is a nice piece of imagery, allowing us to appreciate the progressive ruin over so many years.

Really well done.

P. Frey

Leah said...

Beautiful! Seriously, gorgeous language, and a sad, lovely story. Amazing.

Shona Snowden said...

Great choice of detail. Particularly like the stillborn litter.

Jonathan Riley said...

Ilove everything about this one. Love how the Model T became nature's bathroom/graveyard and how you used hat for a symbol of aging grief. Really well done. Somebody wants to repeat and they certainly set he bar high! ;)

Aerin said...

The language - rich, smooth, purposeful. It's like I've just had dessert!