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TITLE: A Wife Worth Rubies
By Abby Kelly

I am not usually a fiction writer. However, I want to expand my skill and stretch my comfort zone. This started to come to me while on my walk this morning. I haven't come close to finishing and that's the part that scares me - where does the story go?
I would greatly appreciate any creative ideas - what do you think might happen next? Also, any other critique is welcome, this is new to me! Thanks
Where do you submit Christian fiction, short story, other than contest?
Her hips sang a lilting melody as she walked. The silent sound seemed to draw male stares. It was just a dog walk; her hair was mussed and she wore ratty, short running shorts. But, being the object of their attraction pleased her.

At home, her hips’ song fell on deaf ears. Their syncopated, sensuous sway went ignored by blind eyes and the scent of her perfume wafted past deadened senses. Only the bling of video warriors’ clashing swords permeated her husband’s ears.

The screen door banged behind her as Taylor and Bravo came home from their walk. She cast a disgusted glance at her husband, not the least surprised that he didn’t notice. “It’s seriously hot out there,” she half tried to elicit a response. None came.

Wes sat melting into, or perhaps melding with, the sofa. Only his thumbs worked themselves vigorously. Perhaps his mind was flickering with rapid-fire strategy. But she felt none of this energy. He wore short, black shorts that she teasingly called his “panties,” they certainly revealed enough. Because his hair was buzzed so close to his scalp there was no messiness there. His coffee cup sat stained and empty next to him.

I refuse to pick it up, she thought. I’m only enabling his laziness! But every Saturday, in spite of herself, she moved his mug to the kitchen, then to the sink and finally to the dishwasher, less and less surprised that he never lifted a finger.

He was a handsome man, five days a week. He shave his boxy jaw everyday, if not twice. He had perfect posture and a crisp, clipped gait. Among his own, soldiers, he was the epitome of the standard. A smart major in every way. How on earth, she wondered, did he so completely transform over the weekend - just for her? How she longed for a knight in shining armor, or at least the modern version, a chivalrous infantry man who adored her.

It was an evil thing. But her sister’s phone call was based on the best intentions and a full knowledge of her plight. Tia’s loyalty to her sister and her happiness outweighed her moral code.

“Taylor!” Tia had just arrived at Boston University three weeks before. She was chasing her master’s degree, with almost as much dedication as she chased a husband. That was her sole reason in choosing BU, and in living one block from campus. Doubtless she would catch the eye of a delicious grad student; or she would toy with a naive freshman.

“Taylor,” Tia panted again. “Don’t think, just answer me from the top of your head - come out here!”

“What are you talking about?” Taylor took the phone out to the screened porch. She doubted that her husband had even heard the phone ring, but preferred absolute privacy. She slapped her leg and Bravo wagged his fluffy rear end out the door.

“I’m serious, Taylor. It is so amazing here - everything you’ve ever wondered about Boston is true. Great bars, fun people, snooty accents and the best autumn weather. You can bring Bravo; Tatter would love the company. Tell Wes...well tell him whatever. You know he won’t care or even ask why you’re leaving. Besides, it’s a goldmine of men - maybe you can find a real one out here.

That hurt for sure, but it was true. Even though her love life was dead, dry and destitute, Wes provided every material wish and didn’t ask questions. Taylor glanced down at the diamond spinning on her left hand and remembered the expensive investment she had made before God 10 years ago.

Taylor obeyed Tia and only allowed herself to entertain hesitancy for a second. Tia was her sister, and her best friend. If she did nothing but sit in Tia’s house all day during her classes and talk with her at night - she would still enjoy more human interaction in two weeks that she received in two months at home.

“OK,” Taylor had to interrupt her sister to accept. “I’ll check tickets as soon as we get off the phone. I’ll come over your fall break. That’s the second week in October, right?”

Tia squealed. “I can’t believe it! You’re finally cracking your good-girl shell. Yes, yes, come that week and stay one more - you can sit it on my “Advanced Psychology of the Criminal Mind” class and ogle Tim with me.”

Taylor hung up her cell phone, slipped it into her pocket and went back indoors. Bravo followed, never one to be left behind. “I’m going to visit Tia next month,” she told Wes as she passed the entry to the living room. “I’m going over her fall break and will probably stay an extra week.”

“OK,” with typical nonchalance, Wes didn’t even raise his eyes.

Two weeks later, Taylor stood chewing the inside of her cheek as she studied her suitcase. Never one to worry too much about her “cute quotient” especially since getting married, she wasn’t sure what to pack. She flipped through her unorganized hangers like the pages of a familiar book. Five to one, most articles were brown, blue or green. The occasional purple top stood out because one time Tia had said it made her eyes pop.

Taylor had enviable eyes. Without the aid of contacts they vacillated between gray-blue and brown-green. Her lashes belied their nakedness and her allergy to mascara. Her complexion, though not perfect was well past the teenage frustrations. She put forth a golden tan, which she sometimes worried might look sallow if she wore yellow.

Her last visit to the hairdresser, two visits after the worst nightmare of her life, Patty had suggested an angled bob that swished at her chin and made the most of her fine hair. She wasn’t Jennifer Aniston, but she was finally confident in her own beauty. That in itself had taken the last 15 years of her life, as she clawed her way out of the jaws of anorexia.

Taylor made sure to toss her favorite perfume, Angel Innocence, in between the layers of clothes to protect the bottle. She liked to think of it as her signature fall fragrance. Summer lent itself to Coconut Lime Verbena from Bath and Body Works. Finally she zipped the bag closed, pleased that it fastened without a struggle. Packing lightly - one virtue she had learned from her military husband.

Bravo looked gravely concerned at the suitcase. “Don’t worry, silly,” Taylor stroked his floppy ears and swiped matter from his liquid brown eyes. “Gross. You’re coming with me this time, pup. But you have to ride under the plane because you’re a little too big. I’m glad it’s cool enough.”

When the plane touched down in Boston, Taylor felt the lightest she had in years. Wes had finally acknowledged she was leaving, but didn’t offer to make the time to drive her to the airport. That small carelessness had added one more nail to the coffin of their marriage. His insensitivity had been suffocating her, she felt like she was dying inside.

But not today! She rushed down the long terminal, dragging a sleepy, slightly intoxicated Bravo behind her. “Tia! Tia!” She caught sight of her sister’s curls, perched on a head 2 inches taller than her own.

The girls swung into each other’s arms as if they hadn’t really seen each other just last Christmas. For Taylor, it had been about that long since she had last felt the joy of embrace.

Tears pricked Taylor’s eyelids, but she refused to allow them exit. She didn’t want to add fuel to the fire of Tia’s dislike for her husband. Taylor needed a vacation, ten days of companionship and unsolicited affection. She wasn’t yet party to Tia’s intention of finding her a “real” man.

“Impressive,” Tia harassed her sister. “Only one, well-zipped bag! Where are all the cute shoes?” The girls laughed, knowing that they each had their weaknesses - Tia’s was shoes, Taylor’s was purses. “You didn’t notice my new bag,” Taylor said. “The most expensive bag I’ve ever bought - but I did get it on double sale. Only $40 at Dillard’s, originally $105.”

“Now that’s impressive,” Tia agreed. She popped the extended grip on Taylor’s bag and took off at a near sprint to the parking garage. “Come on, girl. If we can get out of here in the next three minutes, I don’t have to pay for parking!”
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