Monday, September 11, 2006


This story originally appeared on ZUZU's PETALS, a literary site that has since left us. Too bad. It was a tastefully done site. Anyway, this has always been one of my favorite little pieces of flash fiction, coming in at a mere 700 words. I hope you like it. Please let me know. Feel free to post a comment.


Mr. Wennerstorm was the sort of tall, well-scrubbed man who never seemed to age. He was quick to smile, his eyes exuded warmth and understanding, and he barely flinched when I told him how much I loved his wife. Mrs. Wennerstorm did though; she flinched, shuddered, and gasped.

“Do I know you?” she asked.

I grinned and stabbed at the carpeting with my toe. “We’ve never met before.”

“Okay, time to go,” said Mr. Wennerstorm, rising to his feet.

“I know how this sounds and looks, but I’m not crazy,” I said hastily. “I just wanted a chance to express myself. I didn’t want to wonder and regret, and curse my inaction. “

“But you don’t know me.” She waved at her husband and added, “Honest we’ve never met.”

I had to pick my next few words carefully, as Mr. Wennerstorm would only be giving me a few more sentences. I felt his wife and I were off to a good start, the alarm on her face being a sign I had touched her in some way.

I am not confused about love. I have never had a special person in my life and at the same time, all of them have been special. I don’t just love from afar, I love perfectly from afar. People don’t understand that.

Even those people who claim an understanding of spiritual love don’t really grasp the poignant, fragile beauty of that emotion.

I loved Mrs. Wennerstorm. I loved her frozen in a moment. When I looked at her, I was afraid to close my eyes. I was afraid that in a blink the love would shift somehow, gliding elusively away from me.

“I do know you,” I said, trying to impart urgency into those words. “It’s my gift. I know you, Mrs. Wennerstorm, in a way you’ve never been known before. I don’t expect anything in return. I just wanted to tell you. ‘I love you. I love you. I love you.’”

Mr. Wennerstorm held my arm behind my back and moved me, on tip-toe, toward the door.

“I know this will take some getting used to,” I called over my shoulder, “but, you’ll understand eventually. You’ll understand.”

Mr. Wennerstorm helped me outside and closed the door. You had to appreciate his self-restraint.

Some ideas are given voice and fade away. Some ideas are breezes that send thousands of delicate seeds into the air. Mrs. Wennerstorm was now sitting in the middle of a dandelion storm, watching the pale seeds scatter and catch the wind.

I didn’t bother the Wennerstorms again. I didn’t leave flowers or notes for her to find; I didn’t sit in my car at the end of the day to spy on her as she left work. I had had my say and that was enough. I had declared my love and in the act of declaration there was fulfillment.

She called me three days later.

I was surprised she had found out who I was, though I supposed her husband had probably copied down my license plate as a precaution. I heard her voice and held my breath.

“I wish you hadn’t come here,” she said softly, without identifying herself.

I tried to picture her, but the image wouldn’t come. I waited. I waited.

“My husband was angry, you know. You’re lucky he didn’t kill you.”

I ran my finger down the phone cord and gazed distractedly outside. It would be raining soon. I had just had my car washed.

“It was a crazy thing to do,” she said and I could hear the delight in her voice. “I don’t think you’re crazy, but it was a crazy thing to do. I’ve never had anyone act that way toward me.”

I waited. I waited.

“If you’re interested,” she said at last, maybe we could meet more appropriately and become acquainted. We could get to know one another. Not that anything would happen, but we could talk.”

Mrs. Wennerstorm’s voice was muted excitement. I closed my eyes and was blind. In true blindness is sadness and desperation.

“Sure,” I replied.

She named the time and place. Of course, I never showed.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Stewart, one of the best pieces of fiction I have read in my life. I am not lying. You carefully place the words where you want them. I love the fact that the guy washed his car and knew it would rain. Of course, Wnnerstorm is how us Sout'side Polaks would say "Wennerstorm, comin?" They say pretty soon."

farlane said...

Well done indeed.

Don said...

That was pure, man. Fickle and naked and undependable - just like Love.

I love it.

I love you too.


Lori Witzel said...

Found you through Andy Spiegel's blog, and was mighty taken with this tiny story.

Very well-knit, and something nicely chilling about the narrator.