Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider

They skirted the edge of the pond. Dragonflies flirted with water lilies, while a fountain stippled the surface with silver-dollar memories. College students drowsed on benches, backpacks wedged under their heads, arms draped over hangovers.

The day was summer warm on the couple’s arms, their necks. That pale, surprised flesh behind the knees.

“I’m sorry.”


A helicopter seed rained on her head.  She brushed it away. 

“Do you know how much?”

“I can hear it in your voice.”

“Good.” She swallowed. “Because I don’t know how to explain everything. Not now. The words won't—”

She pulled her sandal heel from a squelchy spot.


He took her elbow, while she lifted a foot to scrape off the mud with a leaf.

“We can talk about it later, then.”

She put her foot on the ground.  And looked at him. 

“So ‘later’ is still a . . . thing?”

He smiled and shook his head.

A duck led her little ones from the pond. The ducklings shook the water from their feathers. Waddling with a tender faith behind the mother, who charted a steady uphill course.

The couple followed.

She stepped over some goose shit. It splotched the flattened grass at regular intervals. Or maybe it was the ducks’ mess. At any rate—

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

At their approach, frogs popped like a chorus line into the murky water. She laughed and twined her fingers through his.

“Like there could be anything to fear on a day like this.”

He squeezed her hand in return.

“No,” he said, lifting his face to the sky. “Not on a day like this.”


bard said...

Thank you for taking me on this little escape... it is a lovely little vignette.

Karen said...

This is a wonderful vignette that implies so much more than meets the surface here. The warm summer day, the mother duck and her ducklings, and the frogs all belie the darkness that underlies this piece. On a day like this, she is stuck in the muck and I fear there's more to come.

Susan Deborah said...

It's a summer day but the images remind me of rain - frogs, dragon flies, ducks.

A nice summer episode like a page out of a novel :)

Their togetherness is contagious.

Joy always,

Richard Levangie said...

There is a quietness to your prose that is thrilling.

Melissa Sarno said...

I really enjoy your writing style. 'arms draped over hangovers...' is such a great line. Thanks for sharing this :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

a lot of mine fields in this one. Well done.

Sarah Hina said...

Bard, you're very welcome. I love small, intimate slice-of-life stories.

Karen, I did want to write something uplifting, yet unsettling at the same time. I think you caught the lightness and the darkness just perfectly. Not that I'm surprised. ;)

Thank you!

Susan Deborah, that's why I titled it "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider." The rain and sun in that children's song--and the quiet determination to try again--struck me as being apt. It was a nice serendipity, actually--the kids started singing it right before I posted this! :)

Thanks for finding a pleasant escape here.

Richard, I love that comment. Quiet can be thrilling, if it strikes us as being real. I'm honored you found that here. Thank you.

Melissa, living in a college town, I got a kick out of that line, too! :) Thanks so much for your kind appreciation here.

Charles, many mine fields. And many delicate steps to navigate them.

Thank you.

Jennifer said...

I really want him to forgive her--and that is a testament to how much you've drawn in such a small space.

I am always amazed, and no less so here, at your powers of observation--how you see the world--and then, of course,at your ability to communicate what you see in ways that are at once uniquely phrased and also so familiar that it's like coming home.

My favorite here: the "pale, surprised flesh behind the knees" experiencing the sun. It's so subtle but so richly drawn--and so characteristic of your writing.

Apologies, as usual, for not being around much! I've reached 65,000 words on my novel and am bound and determined to finish the draft before school lets out--which means it's pretty much all I do when the kids are gone. :)

I hope your writing is going well!

Naquillity said...

Hello Sarah~ what a wonderful story with so many great lines. i felt there was a bit more going on between the characters than met the eye but that's life sometimes... it secures a bit of mystery. hope all is well.

Karen said...

I came back to comment on the title. Wonderful touch!

(Then I saw Jennifer and stood up and shouted, "There you are!") So glad to see you're okay, Jen.

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, that's so, so great to hear! I'm really happy for you (and sorry that I let our email exchange drop--I let busyness get in the way of stuff I actually enjoy). It sounds like you're really motivated, and I have no doubt that you'll reach your goal. And I can't wait to read the book in print (or before? :))!

As is always the case, I'm thrilled to read your comments. The line you mentioned was important to me, since I liked the idea of exposing something tender and vulnerable about this couple.

Now go write. ;) You've inspired me with your incredible discipline. But as Karen said, it's always great to see you drop by the blog world.

Naquillity, I did want to give a surface treatment that only alluded to a bigger history between these two. I like what you said about preserving some mystery. :)

Thank you so much for your perceptive reading and commenting.

Karen, thank you for adding that! I give my kids complete credit. :)

(And definitely.)

Aniket said...

Its like a walk in the neverlands. Your words make us effortlessly soak in the surroundings and pay attention to the characters. A trick I'm yet to figure out. And yes I envy you for that. But I'll get there... will you wait for another decade or so?

Sarah Hina said...

I'll wait for as long as you need me to wait, Aniket. Because I know you're getting there, with every step and word you take.