Maybe he had a better reason for leaving. Maybe it was the summer sun that first started the wanderlust. Whatever the reason, on day Janis watched him walk out of their front gate, not knowing when she would next see him.
He left no plans, no way to contact him; He only said he’d be back in the fall. Whatever that meant.
Janis watched him close the white picket gate, the one he had built last summer and walk towards town proper. She dried her hands on the dish towel she held, just shaking her head.
“Silly man,” she muttered, smoothing down her apron. She wasn’t surprised he was leaving. Every couple of years he’d get this look in his eye and by the next day he’d have his knapsack packed. He’d go off finding adventure, though he never told Janis what he ended up doing on his treks. He could be gone a week or months. Once he was gone only two days, but another he was gone almost a year.
She didn’t know if he had another woman, she hated him if he did, but she doubted him fooling around. There were plenty of women around here who would have gladly taken him into their beds. No, the look in his eyes was not the lust for human flesh, but of fresh air, mountain peaks, and sandy beaches. Sometimes she would find bits and pieces of nature hiding down at the bottom o f his knapsack when he’d return. A small shell, a green rock, and once she found an old arrowhead.
For Janis the reprieve of married life was always a chance for a renewal of herself. She slept in, not needing to make his breakfast. She enjoyed her poached eggs on toast without complaint. She tried new hairstyles and bought a new outfit or two. She would hire a couple of local girls and they would tear apart the house, cleaning it from top to bottom, then Janis would rearrange the furniture or paint a room. She’d have a gardener come in and give the whole yard a nice clean up, getting all the spots He never got to when he was at home. She’d splurge on a new rose bush or something exotic and fancy that would last only the summer season.
She’d invite her friends over for luncheons and teas. They’d gab about kids and husbands, though Janis never mentioned Him other than to say he was on sabbatical. They all knew what that meant. The ladies would discuss flower arrangement and wallpaper options. Painting versus staining re-purposed furniture. Then Janis would show off her new redone room and all the ladies would ooh and ah, commenting on how they wished their husbands would let them redo a room whenever they wanted to.
The friends would leave and Janis would clean up the house to a spotless state, fix a small meal and eat dinner watching one of her favorite movies. Something he wouldn’t like and try to talk over. She’s go to bed whenever she wanted, sometimes late, sometimes early. And every night till he came home, Janis would cry herself to sleep.
Who would have thought a short story or flash fiction piece could come out of a Harbrace College Handbook? The first line and title of this piece was a line of correction under commas in my Harbrace. I was reading it the other day and this line caught my attention and I knew I had to write something. Not exactly sure if I have the commas in the correct spots (I’m a comma girl and I use way more than I ever should), but I’m happy with how this turned out. I have a fifties or sixties esque thought pattern in my head for Janis. Like she does her hair in the flip styles and wears big patterned dresses with bold flowers. Well, whatever she looks like, this was fun to write out the other day in a matter of moments on a piece of lined paper. Sometimes inspiration strikes from the funniest of places. And this story did not even come close to what I had in my mind, but hey, sometimes the character takes you places you never knew were hiding.