Lithgow, New South Wales
I received your letter and am glad to hear you are feeling more relaxed and will be home on Saturday. I’m so happy the holiday with your mother has done you good as the last few years have been very trying for you.
Remember when we first got married, when we were young and in love? We both had dreams of the lovely home we would have some day and our hobby was designing houses and planning colour schemes.
We worked and saved and before long we had this house, fulfilling all our dreams. We were able to buy the best appliances, such as a washing machine and two-door refrigerator and we both resolved to make our lives happy in this beautiful home.
You certainly tried hard. You were so proud of the house that every night after dinner you vacuumed and dusted everything and insisted we leave our shoes outside. You decided we would eat all our meals on the balcony so our elegant dining room furniture would not get marked.
I had time now to return to my great love – art. I knew how much it would upset you if I hung my paintings on your smooth white walls, so I displayed my canvases by leaning them against the wall in the sun-room.
You never complained; you only remarked that they looked untidy there and that our spotless laundry looked messy with jars of brushes on the shelves. I got an inkling of how upset you were when you mentioned Lance, our neighbour – you know, the man with the motor bike and long hair tied in a pony tail – that you hoped you hadn’t married a grot after all. You had been talking to him about my painting and he had been asking you about it.
You did your best, you really did. You showed me exactly how to iron your shirts and exactly how to hang them, one shirt on each hanger and the hangers twelve centimeters apart. You inspected my ironing and if you found creases in any garment you dropped it straight back into the dirty clothes basket. You have always aimed for perfection.
I tried hard to be the perfect woman you thought I should be. When you advised me never to wear jeans, not with a broad behind like mine, I squeezed myself into step-ins or body shapers, or whatever they are called and only ever wore loose skirts. I built up a comprehensive collection of foundation garments.
We both toiled to keep the garden as you wanted it – the lawns manicured with your smart electric mower and the flowers growing precisely where they were placed. Flowers being my great delight, I picked them and arranged them in vases, but you were peeved when I did the arranging at the kitchen sink. You said, “What if someone comes while you’re in the middle of that mess?”
It bothered you when I put the clippings and leaves into the compost bin and you didn’t like having compost in the yard, especially when I said something about it breaking down and rotting. In the garden you preferred nice clean chemicals that never rotted.
Dearest Cecil, I have a confession. The day after you left, I really don’t know what got into me. The day you went off for your much needed rest at your Mum’s I put on my oldest jeans. I got my tubes of paints and squirted the colours all over the lounge room walls. Then I did a Pro Hart. I got the back end of the vacuum cleaner, you know, the part that blows out, and blew the paints until they made a delightfully weird pattern all over your clean, white walls. I filled the wheelbarrow with lovely rotted compost and spread it around. I forgot to mention that first I piled your white shirts on the carpet, under where I spread the compost.
I went out, wearing my jeans in public, and bought a hamburger, a big bag of hot, fatty chips and a bottle of wine. I sat at the polished dining-room table and scoffed the lot.
I think the wine went to my head because I don’t remember much about the rest of the night. When I woke up it was one o’clock the next afternoon and Lance, the next-door neighbour – you know – the man with the motor bike and long hair tied in a pony tail – was trying to get me out of the wheelbarrow.
Dear Cecil, please don’t get upset over that silly confession. When you get home on Saturday you will find everything in a state of perfection, just the way you want it. The walls are now pristine white. There is not a trace of compost on the carpet and I have bought you a dozen new white shirts. They are hanging in the wardrobe exactly twelve centimetres apart. The kitchen sink is gleaming with not a leaf or twig to be seen and the paint brushes have gone from the laundry shelf.
Everything is just as it was before you went away, with one small difference. I am now wearing a comfy pair of jeans and my broad behind is settled on the pillion of Lance’s motor bike. We will ride down the main street to post this letter and to drop off a parcel of corsetry at St Vincent de Paul.
Then we will zoom off into the distance to find lovely sunrises to paint together.
Bio: Winsome Smith has written twelve books, as well as, many stories, articles, poems and she contributes to a local newspaper.