original photo by Vivian Maier

original photo by Vivian Maier

The impropriety, Bill sniffed, that guy needs to get his woman under control. He glanced at Iris as they made their evening stroll down Michigan Avenue to the L. To him it appeared that she barely registered the couple arguing outside the bank. She hadn’t even turned her head. He figured that was good, that she was probably thinking about the bed-skirt she had just ordered from Sears. Why a bed needed a skirt though, he did not know.
Bill’s wingtips crunched on the wet sidewalk, in rhythm with the dull slap of Iris’ flats. He liked the sound of synchrony.

At least she’s speaking up, thought Iris as they approached the arguing couple. She didn’t think it would do much good, but she felt for the woman. For an instant, she admired the woman’s baby-blue raincoat and noticed how it complimented her copper hair and angry eyes. Given the man’s suit, she assumed he had probably squandered the couple’s money. Iris thought of the jar of cash hidden under her own marital bed. Bill would never look there. He would never make the bed. She let out a snicker, quickly covering it with her hand. Bill didn’t notice.

Bill noticed the redhead’s crimson lips and long stems. Never make a pretty woman your wife, he thought. But guilt pricked him. He had to admit Iris was pretty, but in a more sensible way, with her long chestnut hair and modest makeup. She was the kind of woman who makes a good wife.

The man loomed over the redhead; his arms on either side of her against the stone wall of the bank. The redhead’s face contorted, as if she were yelling at him, but her voice was barely audible.

“How could you?” she said, like air from a punctured tire.

Iris’ foot slipped on the wet cement. She lurched. Bill reached for her, but she recovered her own footing.

“Thank you dear.”

Iris wondered what the man had done to the redhead. It seemed to be something so bad that the woman couldn’t wait for the privacy of home. She wondered if perhaps it had just been the last in a series of unkindnesses. Or perhaps the woman had just reached her breaking point. Iris knew she would soon reach hers. But she told herself, not until the day her degree was finished and her cash jar was full. She would not yell at Bill on the street. She would handle Bill differently.

Leaving the arguing couple behind, Bill’s thoughts turned to supper.

“Are we having your famous meatloaf tonight, dear?”

Iris nodded as a crooked smile crept across her sensible face.


(This piece was created from a prompt. The goal was to tell a story based on the exquisite Vivian Maier photo that appears above).

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