She sings “Amazing Grace” when she irons the blouse he hated, the white one with a stain on the left shoulder. She plays with this stain like children shape clouds. Ultimately, though, it just looks like blood to her. But it’s the game she enjoys, striking at it with her imagination.
The hymn starts in the beating of her heart, pounding the rhythm into her core as the iron heats and she contemplates the stain, turning the blouse over and over in case she’s missed an angle that reveals the shape as more than blood. She brings the stain close to her eyes, as if anticipating the picture in a developing photograph. Nothing forms, still a splat of blood. She sets it down and, hovering her hand near the metal, determines the iron is hot enough. She spreads the blouse over the ironing board, the stain in the center. By the time she grabs the iron’s handle, she’s humming.
There was nothing wrong with the blouse. Fashionable even, for its time. She never knew why he hated it. Did its job, didn’t pretend to be too good for anything. Didn’t think it was above anyone. Stood there and looked pretty, that’s all anyone wants out of a blouse and that’s exactly what this blouse did. It hadn’t even been stained until her accident, and after that he never saw it again. Impossible, the minds of men. So simple, so distracted. They say what they want and do what they want and often those two contradict each other.
She sweeps the iron over the left shoulder again and again, her hums increasing in volume with each swipe. Her movements become careless and she singes the tips of her fingers, but she doesn’t notice. She strikes the stain with her iron, humming “How sweet the sound.”
She had finished cooking dinner, set the television to the correct sports channel. Normally he wouldn’t bother her again until his nightly release but for some reason he wasn’t pleased. Didn’t like that she was ironing an apparently too-good-for-her blouse. It wasn’t until he fell back into his chair complaining about his hand that she connected him to the pearl that fell from her nose, staining the left shoulder of the blouse. She had touched this pearl and her blood came off on her fingers. She then pressed down hard on the blouse, pushing the hot iron down into the screaming stain and when she lifted it she saw his face and in the background she heard her voice singing “Amazing Grace.”
Finished, she lifts the blouse. Though stained, it’s her favorite. Her most beautiful. It comforts her, thrills her, to iron this blouse. She opens his closet, empty of clothing, and hangs the blouse so that the blood-stain pushes into the corpse’s iron-seared face.
About the author:
Keith Frady is a short story writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. He hopes to publish a collection of his work in the near future.