Here's a little story for Three Word Wednesday. This is for my grandma, who gets fed up with romance novels because the men are always filthy rich, the women always weigh ninety pounds and their hair always falls in “tendrils.” The words are hesitate, jealous, and neglect.
Bertelina heard the flowered arm of the couch creak underneath her weight as she peered out the smudged window of the double-wide, wondering if Felix would return. He’d left hours before in a rage, jealous of the attention she lavished on her apricot toy poodle, Hector. But before left, she thought she saw Felix hesitate, like he didn’t mean it, like maybe he could make room in his life for Hector, too. She'd left the storm door open, as if only having a screen between them would make the distance easier to navigate.
In the glass, she could see that her cropped gray hair was thin and messy with neglect. Hector’s curly blonde coat was fluffy and clean with the effects of a special grooming from Marna’s Pet Palace, which cost Bertelina what she had left in the Folgers can she kept underneath the quilted toaster cozy her Aunt Agrapine had made on her secondhand Singer before she died. That toaster cozy meant the world to Bertelina.
But it meant nothing compared with how she felt about Felix. But Hector had come into her life first and she had an obligation to him. She was his mother, after all. How could she give him up? How could Felix think she would? She’d taken Hector to Marna’s to make him presentable in the hopes that he’d charm Felix with his adorableness. But instead Hector had nipped at Felix’s ankle and that’s what had led to the argument.
What really irked Bertelina is that Felix had acted like she was losing the catch of the century. She owned her double-wide, after all, and Felix rented one at the other end of Silver Haven Trailer Ranch. She was retired and lived off more than her Social Security; Felix claimed to be retired but had really been out of work since he lost his job at the packing plant where they met three years ago. Bertelina liked to play the nickel slots now and then; Felix treated gambling like an Olympic sport. He’d asked to borrow money from her more than once.
Hector nuzzled Bertelina’s chunky ankle and whimpered. She reached down with some effort, rubbed Hector’s head, and, with a last glance out the screen, closed and locked the storm door.