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the blue box

by Roly 

Posted: 07 June 2004
Word Count: 1153

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The blue box

The cluster of diamonds sat arched in the box , the rainbow hues spinning off the surface . How much better they would have looked dazzling and glinting on her finger , than being held forlornly in the mock leather blue box , labelled inside in gold letters “ Penman’s , Jewellers of distinction “ How did it happen, how could things have worked out this way ?

He had planned that night so carefully . The room was aglow with candles in every nook and cranny , giving a golden tone off the terracotta walls. A big brick hearth dominated the room, over it were photo’s of them , snappy holiday shot’s showing them both in a casual relaxed manner that they were with each other. Logs were crackling, hissing and spitting and flames roared up the chimney. The slightly biting taste of wood smoke filled the air.
In the middle of the room the polished grain of the table showed its shine in the subtle light , as if it were a Victorian dining room again. The table had been laid to perfection , with best silver cutlery that he had polished and buffed before carefully laying them out , examining , and rebuffing with the linen cloth to make absolutely sure. The cut glass had similarly been cleaned and arranged to be not an inch out of place or have a spec or a finger mark . There were glasses for the aperitif , then the wine for starters , then the main wine , then desert wine and he hoped a liqueur to end or maybe a fine cognac
The serviettes were pressed and starched and rolled into their silver rings laid next to the fine bone china of the crockery.
He was pleased , he had planned the room to perfection .On the sideboard sat a wonderful bouquet of orange and red flowers reflecting the season , and the strong fragrance of the chrysthanthemum could be smelt even over the wood smoke .

The kitchen was steaming , pots bubbled and gurgled and lids rattled , and from the oven the smell of the roast bird , and the crackle of the potatoes in the fat.
Serving dishes stood by ready to receive and the click clack of the timer told of the approaching moment
He had been days flicking and marking his recipe books , they lay on the top with pages held open or marked ready for use .In the end he had decided on a traditional home cooked dish , after all this was him , this is how he was.

Now all that was done , he could concentrate on himself , he had showered , and had arranged his simple cotton Jermyn Street shirt . He would wear it open neck , with black trousers , they still had the dry cleaners little red cord pinned inside. He carefully undid it . Yes , the simple look was what he wanted tonight , the comfortable with life aura. A tang of cologne , the zing as it hit his cheeks, he was ready. Just one more job to do, he had been planning this for months , this might be the biggest moment of his life. He could feel his stomach start to churn and his chest felt a little tight , he sipped at a Madeira to ease his nerves. Putting the glass down , he walked to his bedroom and pulling open the mahogany draw by it brass handle took the blue box out .

In the dining room the candles had now started to form little runs down their sides and the logs gave an amber glow . He walked to the table , and placed the blue box on a small Georgian silver platter in the centre of the table. He flipped open the lid , and turned the box towards her end of the table, he felt his heart skip as he did it.

The phone rang, he hadn’t been expecting that , he was expecting a different tone , that of the door bell. He was annoyed initially thinking who was calling to disturb this special and significant night. Reluctantly he trudged to the phone and lifted the handset,

‘ hello ‘
‘ hello you , how are you ? it’s me ‘
‘ yes , I’m fine , has the taxi got to you yet ? are you on your way ? Its all booked and paid for you know . Just get in , everything is waiting for you here ‘
‘ I have something to tell you , I don’t think I can come’ she said in hushed , reserved and nervous tones, ‘ it just wouldn’t be fair ‘
He was devastated , his whole body felt suddenly flushed and weak
‘ why , why ? Tell me why ‘ he pleaded in desperation to understand
‘ I just don’t know how to tell you , it going to hurt you so much , I never wanted to , believe me I never wanted to….’ She tailed off
‘ just tell me please , tell me , the suspense is killing me , we can work it out ‘
After all that planning , after all the expectation , he could almost physically feel his world falling like bricks around him, the blue box stared at him from the table.
‘ ok , but this is terrible news for you , are you sitting down ? ‘
He moved over to the red leather armchair , like him , showing its age , but well worn and the better , in a way , for it,
‘ I’m pregnant ‘ she said
‘ well , that’s great news , what is the problem , we can work this out , as it happens tonight…’ before he could get the words out , he was interrupted
‘ you don’t understand, its not that simple , it’s not yours , ‘
‘ well who else’s can it be ? It must be mine, mustn’t it ? ‘ He felt sick in the pit of his stomach , his heart was bursting,
‘its Jamie’s ‘
There was silence, for what seemed an eternity , the world seemed to stop , but it was really only a second or two,
‘I have to go ‘, he said and he put the handset down in its cradle
He walked in a state of shock into the hall , and to the foot of the opulent stairway looking up at its curving stair rail , not sure how to react. He called up the stairs
‘ ‘ Are you there ? ‘
‘ yes Dad ‘
‘ can you come down a minute then please , I have something to say to you , Jamie’


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Comments by other Members

Anna Reynolds at 11:43 on 08 June 2004  Report this post
Roly, oh blimey, this was a surprise- the ending, I mean- made me think for a moment of Notes On A Scandal, the novel about an older woman teacher and a fifteen year old boy. This piece is well crafted, the story is quite precise- I had some thoughts/queries. Does he (the narrator) have any idea that she's been unfaithful, let alone with his son? has he deliberately blinded himself to it, why does she choose to tell him over the phone instead of face? I suppose I wondered if it might not be even more effective if she had turned up, partly because it gives you more as a writer to play with, and also because the structure of the story, at the moment, divides into first half all description and the second half all dialogue, and it might be good to have a think about this? What's important is you do really feel for the narrator.

Roly at 21:49 on 08 June 2004  Report this post
Anna , thankyou very much for the comments , the peice was written for a writing course I was on , we were asked to write something very descriptive , and then I put a hook at the end to make it a story .
I think that the main character is say mid 50's and his love is 28-32 ish ? , so the son could be 20's too , that was the sort of thought I had.
Do you think I could have her arriving and some sort of showdown with the son there ? Maybe he invited the son to the meal to tell him they were getting married ?
I like the " precise " part at the beginning as I am trying to convey the sort of man he is , very precise , almost anally so maybe ? So interuppting that flow may not give this effect ?
Finally , do you think with those edits it is up to being sent to appropriate publications to see if they like it?
thanks for your comments , they gave me a real buzz this morning , to have that from someone like you !

Anna Reynolds at 10:42 on 09 June 2004  Report this post
Roly, I think you should definitely have another crack at it, make it a bit longer, you can probably go up to at least 2000 words for most competitions/magazines, and it's quite a big momentous thing to happen, the showdown, isn't it? I think you could try it and see how comfortable you are with writing the scene rather than reporting it as it is at the moment- if it doesn't work, you've not lost anything. And that sense of the narrator being very precise and anal- hang onto that as maybe the key to why his lover has also been seeing the son- is it the complete contrast between father and son, or are they more alike than they realise? Anyway, look forward to seeing another version/draft, happy writing.

Roly at 20:07 on 09 June 2004  Report this post
thanks Anna , yes i can see quite a few more twists now , will have a go and repost soon !!

R-Poet at 13:12 on 18 June 2004  Report this post
Hi Roland

Glad you could join us at Writewords!

I too was impressed with the twist in the tale.

I see you plan to re-work it. I suggest you adjust the punctuation at the same time, in particular:
- capital letter when beginning new bits of speech
- full stops at ends of sentences containing speech: this falls into two types:
(1) speech only
eg "Hallo." is often missing that last dot.
(2) speech followed by an indicator of who/how spoken
eg "Hallo", murmured Mary. ... is also often missing that final stop.

Hope that helps. Go to it, mate!


Roly at 17:26 on 18 June 2004  Report this post
thanks Steve , typed in a hurry for the course , as you know , thanks for looking at it. Will put some more on soon , and see you soon !!

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