Scrambled Mary

It didn't bother me much that, after all the trouble I went to making brunch for Mary(and myself, of course), she didn't come down until after I'd called her three times, and the butter was congealing on her toast. It did bother me that when she did come down, she was scrambled.

"Sorry," she said, her voice an octave deeper from usual, which was not unexpected since it emanated from a dark throat with a visible Adam's apple. Her hair, still frazzled from sleep, was mostly long and coppery, except where it was in tight dark curls or blonde cornrows. Her eyes were brown and violet(though both bloodshot), and she had a sideburn on one side of her face. Her robe reduced the rest of her body to shapelessness, but I wagered the rest of it was as mismatched. Not that I'd had direct experience of much of it for a long time.

It used to be that I only saw her scrambled when I woke up next to her, looking down on her sleeping patchwork form, watching the boundaries gently shift as she slept. If she woke up first, then the first thing she did was go and fix herself up, making herself whole for me.

I'd used to be a late sleeper before I met her, so it was a while before I noticed it at all. She'd been sick, and zonked out on painkillers. At first I thought it was something to do with the medication, and woke her up in a panic, but she told me it was natural, that it had always happened. It reduced her to tears that I had finally found out her secret, which I now realized she'd been taking pains to hide from me. It took me a long time to convince her that I loved her, no matter what.

At least, I thought I'd convinced her. But lately it seemed she was trying to drive me away, staying out till all hours, sleeping in the guest room, not bothering to unscramble herself in the morning. No matter what I did for her. She knew I hated cooking--I'd told her myself many times--but here I was making her brunch and she didn't even react.

One of my friends had told me that with the Shifties, as the vernacular had them(though I never had used the term, even before I met Mary), you could never rely on them for anything. Their minds were as changeable as their bodies, he said. When Mary's secret had leaked out, which I suppose was my fault, we'd had to take them to court to keep her from getting fired. Even then, she'd quit a few months later, claiming we had enough on my income that she could afford to try working at home. Her art was selling quite well by now, too. It should--she spent enough of her time locked away working on it.

It was then that I realized I'd already made up my mind. I was trying to reassure myself that if--when--I left her, she would be able to fend for herself.

"It's over," I said, and she looked up from her plate and nodded.

<This story is based on the words

Scramble Brunch After Mary


Back to the Four-Word Stories Page...

The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey /