The plot of “The Blue Box” by Mo H Saidi leaves the reader feeling empty and used instead of elated by the prospect of life. The somewhat surprising role reversal emphasizes the loss, not just of a love affair, but of a family.
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“The Blue Box” by Mo H Saidi
He pulled her closer till he felt the softness of her bosom. Her breathing had been heavy a few minutes earlier but now it became slow and calm. He turned his head and kissed her lips but she did not respond.
“Wasn’t it all right?” He murmured.
At first she didn’t react, and then she grudgingly said, “That’s not it.”
He wondered what else she had in mind but didn’t mess with the question. “Let’s do it again,” he proposed.
Preoccupied with some deep thoughts, she stared at the ceiling fan, which was running at low speed, the light air was drying her sweat. He touched her flat abdomen and played with her navel and then moved his fingers to her soft pubic hair.
“Don’t. I need to go,” she said abruptly.
“Don’t?” He was astounded.
She ignored his comment.
“What are you doing on Friday?” he asked.
She was again in deep thought.
“How about eight o’clock at Aldo?”
She slowly turned her head towards him till she could look straight into his eyes and said, “What are you going to do when I’m gone?”
Bewildered, he said, “What do you mean?”
She kept looking at his eyes seeking his response.
He thought about her question for a moment but then decided to ignore it, “I work, all day.”
“I mean tomorrow night or the night after.”
“I’m on call, I’ll work or I’ll read.”
She turned her head away. He pulled the pillow over his head and closed his eyes. The room became quiet and dark around him.
The wind blew against the windowpane and made the glass flutter. A dim lamp on the wall shed pale light on the carpet. More leaves hit the window. The screeching noise of the weeping willow branches hitting the sliding door to the patio disrupted his sleep. He stretched his hand towards the other side of the bed. It didn’t touch anything. His hand felt a hollow dip in the middle of the pillow. The aroma of her hair, her sweaty body, and her warm thighs entered his nostrils. He stretched his legs and kept his hand on the next pillow for a while. Empty darkness had filled the room, his heart. It was late when he fell asleep again.
Soon the alarm went off and the radio began to broadcast soft music. He got up reluctantly and walked to the shower. He turned on the stream of warm water and stood there, till the water became warm. He stood under, water running over his head and shoulders for sometime until he was fully awake.
Before leaving the house he went back to the bedroom and pulled the blanket over the bed. He saw the blue plastic box under the reading light on the bureau next to the bed. He knew it was hers. The diaphragm in it was clean and unused and the small tube of jelly beside it was intact. He was perplexed; “On the previous night, why didn’t she use anything, especially since it was around her ovulation time?”
He was late for work but this question burned in his head. He picked up the phone and dialed her cell phone. After it rang three times he heard a click and the announcement, “At the customer’s request the number you have dialed has been disconnected, the new number is unlisted.”
Driving to his office he thought about his disrupted love affair with her, but he didn’t know what to do. He inserted the tape and listened to a recital of Omar Khayam’s quatrains, “With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow, / and with my own hand labored it to grow. / And this was all the Harvest that I reaped — / ‘I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”
On his desk, he saw a message written by his secretary. It on top of a stack of patients’ charts, “. . . she called from the airport early this morning to say farewell. She said not to worry about the blue box, she doesn’t need it anymore. She said good luck and thanked you for parenting her child.”
Mo H Saidi is a physician-writer with a master’s degree in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard. His first book of poetry, Art in the City, won the 2007 Eakin Award of the Poetry Society of Texas; his recent book, The Color of Faith, was published by St. Mary’s University Pecan Grove Press in April 2010. He has published poems, essays, and short stories in literary and medical periodicals. He is the Managing Editor of Voices de la Luna: A Quarterly Poetry & Arts Magazine. “The Blue Box” was previously published in the UTHSCSA's anthology, Connective Tissue.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com.