Day 4 – 30 Day Flash Fiction Challenge
‘His wife was having tea with the king and he didn’t even know about it’.
Now I see her
Arthur Miller could not believe his eyes, and at times it has been known for them to let him down; his ageing body was a minefield of late, but he knew he wasn’t seeing things now. There, right in front of him smiling back from the newspaper eating a cream tea with the King was non-other than his wife, Daisy. He blinked once, twice, three times and stared again at the image in front of him. Daisy was dressed in a rather fancy looking dress with her hair pinned up on top of her head and she was wearing make up for the first time in years. Arthur tried to remember whether his wife had mentioned this ‘special meeting’ to him. But he couldn’t recall anything.
Arthur checked the date of the paper; Monday 12th May 2039. Today was Tuesday, so this happened yesterday. Looking back at the article, it says that Daisy was picked out of thousands of people who had applied to meet King William V. To enter you had to write a compelling reason for why you thought you should meet him. Arthur looked up abruptly as an image appeared in his head of Daisy showing him a page she had torn out of the newspaper.
Arthur cursed himself for not noticing more of what his wife told him and guilt started to creep through his core. Little snippets of conversation started to trickle back and he remembered parts of conversations which he only half listened to.
‘Arthur, would you look at this in the paper?’ his wife had asked one sunny morning whilst he tried to watch the morning television; his mind automatically droning out the sound of his wife’s beautiful tones.
‘Arthur, what should I put as a reason for meeting the King?’ Daisy had asked when he was getting his coat on ready to leave the house to walk their dog.
‘They have written back, I am shortlisted!’
‘This is an official letter, I hope it isn’t a rejection.’
And yesterday as he was studying a detective programme, trying to figure out ‘Who Done it,’ she had sidled up to him and turned on the spot, asking him how she had looked.
‘Fine Luv, you look fine.’
Arthur knows he said this without actually looking up at her.
With each line spoken, Arthur cannot recall if he ever responded. He was always too busy reading about the local news, watching television or heading out of the house. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his wife; quite the contrary in fact, but it occurs to him suddenly how much he has taken Daisy for granted. They met over 40 years ago, and they have had a wonderful marriage, but at some point, he stopped listening to her. Arthur stopped paying her compliments, stopped taking her out on dates and stopped looking at her properly. For a long time now, he has stopped seeing the girl that he fell in love with.
The shame is thick and sticks to his skin. He can’t shake the feeling that he has let her down. Staring back down at the newspaper, it is as if he is seeing her for the first time in a long time. Her blue eyes are twinkling, and they are creased in the corners as though she is mid-laugh. The dress she is wearing hugs her slender figure beautifully; in all the years that they have been together she has never had to diet, even after having their two wonderful children. Daisy’s long grey-blonde hair is sitting up high on her head, looking as luscious and healthy as it always does. Staring at his wife properly like this for the first time in years takes his breath away.
‘Wow, she is beautiful.’
Arthur knows that he has wasted enough time being blinded by how amazing Daisy is, but he refuses to waste anymore. Getting up gingerly, gripping onto his cane that rests beside him, he busies himself around the kitchen. Daisy has not risen from bed yet, he has always been the early bird in their relationship and has always loved the quiet, but he now realises that the time without her is too empty. He wonders at how a simple photograph could break his stubborn old ways; but he is glad that it has.
Ten minutes later, Arthur is walking into the bedroom that they both share and places a breakfast tray with eggs, toast and a pot of tea next to the master bed. Daisy is slowly starting to wake to sound of him entering the room. Lifting her head of off the pillow, she spies the breakfast and smiles sweetly up at her husband. Their eyes meet and Arthur is taken aback by how beautiful she is after all of these years; Why did he stop looking?
‘Wow,’ Daisy proclaims, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’
She sits up and looks at her husband who sits down beside her.
‘I saw your photograph in the paper, Oh Luv, I am so sorry, I didn’t take enough notice.’
Daisy pats his hand and she smiles contently.
‘There you are…I knew your eyes would see me again if I was on the front of your favourite newspaper.’
Arthur takes her hand into his and pulls it up to his lips, placing a kiss on her fingers lightly.
‘I have stopped looking for way too long, I am so sorry love’.
Daisy smiles deeper and asks him to pass the newspaper which is resting under his arm. Arthur passes it and watches as she places her glasses on before turning to the main article inside and reading out loud.
‘My name is Daisy Miller and I would love to be chosen to have tea with the King. I have been married to my husband, Arthur for 43 years. When I first met my husband, we were deeply in love and spent every waking day together making plans for our future. Every minute spent with him has been wonderful, but as is the case with most relationships, we started to take one another for granted. We missed parts of conversation as we were too busy doing something else, we missed important moments because we didn’t have enough time to listen. And for the most part, we stopped making eye contact and seeing one another. Some would blame my husband, but in all honesty, it was both of us. He stopped looking for me, and I stopped making myself visible for him. The years of aging is a never-ending battle and I came to a point in my life when I stopped trying. I ditched the make-up and dressed in dowdy cardigans.
The reason for me applying for this isn’t just so I can eat a cream tea with William V, although it would be marvellous, of course. The main reason is because I know that the event will be photographed and maybe it will be some way for my husband to see the person he fell in love with all those years ago. I want to put my hair up in a bun like it was on the day that we first met, and I want to wear the same ruby red lipstick that I had on when we shared our first kiss. The dress I have in mind is similar to the one that I wore when he asked me to marry him. Let me show my husband that I am still in here; I have aged and weathered, but I am still that young girl who was swept off her feet by the charming young man who stole her heart.’
Daisy looks up from the newspaper, tears are running down her cheeks and she is smiling deeply. Arthur has never seen a more stunning woman in all his life, the fact that she has gone to all this trouble for him makes him feel like the proudest man alive.
How on earth did he stop seeing her?
From this point onwards, he will make sure that he never takes her for granted ever again.
After all this time, she is still his girl.
by Stephanie Geary