Valerie J. Steimle
The magazine contest I entered had a prompt to start the story. Here is the prompt: After years with a traveling carnival, the strong man and bearded lady try to adjust to a normal life as a married couple.
Here is the story I have written:
Tony sat at the breakfast table shifting his oversized body in his chair and trying to read his newspaper. He looked up from his paper to his newly married wife sitting across the table from him. She looked deep in thought. Normally, she was a chatterbox in the morning but today was different and Tony didn’t know why. He shifted his body again and went back to his paper.
Tony was a large man in stature it was true but he was also quite shy and didn’t have much to say. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say however, that he had muscles upon his muscles and he loved to work out at the gym he now owned. For the last 20 years before buying the exercise gym, lifting heavy weights was the only life he knew.
His wife Jenny, on the other hand wasn’t an attractive woman. In fact, sometimes it was difficult to tell she was a woman at all. That might be a harsh judgment to place on someone but for most of Jenny’s adult life, she grew a beard. It grew on its own and she never knew why. This was the only life Jenny knew.
“Where do you think they are, today?” she asked him.
“I don’t know. It doesn’t say in the paper.”
Their former employer traveled a lot and Jenny was always curious as to their whereabouts. They looked at each other for a moment and went back to their own thoughts. Tony adjusted his body again and looked at the paper.
“You think we made the right decision?” she asked him.
Tony put his paper down.
“You ask me that every day, Jenny. Yes, we did. We couldn’t work that job forever. We have to think about our future. Besides, I love you, remember?”
“Oh yeah, I remember.”
Tony went back to adjusting his body and trying to read his paper.
“You know, I unpacked more of my things this morning and put them away,” she told him.
“Good for you”, he said as he looked up from his paper, “you’re going to leave it in the drawers, right? We are staying right here.”
“Right,” she answered with conviction, “we are staying right here….. Are you going to the gym today?”
He went back to his paper. She went back to her thinking.
“Do you think I should start shaving?” she asked after a while.
Tony put his paper down again.
“That’s up to you,” he answered, “I love you just the way you are.”
“What about the neighbors? They still give me funny looks.”
“Then shave, if it makes you feel better,” Tony said as he adjusted his body for the tenth time. The chair sagged under his weight. He went back to his paper. She went back to her thinking.
“Do you think we need to rearrange our furniture in the living room? It doesn’t look right,” she said anxiously.
“If you want to”, Tony said not looking up. It’s a good thing we only have a one bedroom apartment, he thought, laughing to himself.
“We have to move, you know,” she said again interrupting him trying to read the paper. Growing exasperated from all the interruptions, Tony tried to stay calm.
“Jenny, we just moved in . . . . . . we are not moving again. You just need to get used to staying in one place. I know it’s difficult but you’ll like it after a while.”
Tony smiled at her.
“I need to tell you something,” Jenny said. She couldn’t contain herself anymore.
Tony’s smile was gone. His chair creaked as he adjusted his body once again.
“What is it?” he asked hesitantly.
“I’m pregnant,” she said smiling.
At that point, Tony’s chair broke underneath him sending him to the floor. Jenny jumped forward to make sure he was okay.
As Tony lay on the floor laughing he said, “I guess we’ll have to move, then.”