Olyn Ozbick is an award-winning, non-fiction editor and a publisher. Her essays, journalism, reviews and creative non-ficiton have been published in Chatelaine, Harrowsmith, Equinox, The Calgary Herald, Avenue Magazine, Bloom, Banff Life and many others. She is currently writing and studying fiction in Calgary. Her short story "Rites" was a finalist in the CBC Literary Prize. Read more at http://olynozbick.wordpress.com/
The day had been a doozy, that was sure, and the client was livid. Joe pushed a frosty pint around in a pool of condensation on the bar counter and considered the job. The window for the foyer didn’t fit, the kitchen island was an inch too long and the flooring hadn’t arrived. He watched his partner, Tuck, take a slug from his own pint, but neither spoke.
The island, he thought, was fine; it could be cut down tomorrow, and the floor would arrive the next day. But the window: the problem there was in the measurements. It just didn’t fit the hole cut through the wall.
He thought of that great window standing there now, propped against the high foyer wall waiting to be fit. What a beauty she was, though. A massive sheet of hand-made stained-glass, intricately designed in the image of a swan. When it was in, its multicolored neck would arch upward from the entry foyer and push its fine, almost voluptuous, white form past the second floor landing. By the third floor, with its wings lifted over the view below and its neck stretched longingly–he was sure he could see that emotion artfully added–toward the skylight, it would soar over the entire entry. What a creation. But the idiot who had measured out the opening, who the heck was that? When he remembered he’d fire him. The hole had been cut two inches too big. All around. Unbelievable.
He took a gulp of beer and glanced at Tuck, silent in his thoughts too. He knew that Tuck was worrying over the same thing.
He thought he should say something, so he said: “She’s a beauty, though isn’t she?”
That made Tuck look up.
“A beauty?” Tuck said, and went red up under his neck which made Joe a little wary. He didn’t want Tuck upset anymore. Tuck had walked around all day with that red face. It was something Joe hadn’t seen in his partner before so he figured he was pretty angry. Joe couldn’t blame him, though, this was the biggest screw-up they’d faced in five years of reno jobs.
“Don’t you think so?” said Joe, and pushed his beer up to his mouth, took a gulp and swallowed. “The up-side of this whole fiasco is that we got to look at that beautiful window all day. Wasn’t that just something?”
“Really? You thought so too?”
“Yeah, I really did.”
“Well I was just thinking about that widow too, but I thought it was just me.”
“Oh no, I admired that beauty all day. Despite everything, she made my day.” Joe crossed his arms and leaned back. “In fact, I thought there was something almost, like, voluptuous about the whole thing. But maybe that’s going too far to say.”
“No, no. I think that’s a good word for her. Voluptuous. Yeah, that’s a good word. I was trying to think of something myself, just now, while I was sitting here. Something to describe her, and that’s it. You’ve hit on it.”
“And there was sort of a longing about the whole thing, I kind of thought.”
“Really?” said Tuck, “You did?”
“But, oh my god, the problem with the measurements.”
“Measurements?” Tuck sat straight and looked a little startled.
“Yeah, about two inches don’t you think?”
“Oh. I don’t know.” Tuck put down his beer then and thought about that for a bit.
“All around I’d say.”
“No, no, I don’t agree,” said Tuck and he looked determined when he said it. “I think she’s perfect. All around. But I have to tell you Joe, I’m surprised to hear you talk like this. You a guy with a wife, and kids.”
“Well I don’t know Tuck. I don’t see how I can’t look at something beautiful just ‘cause I’m a married guy. I don’t see how that has anything to do with it.”
“Okay then. I just thought different of you before, but now we’ve had this talk. A bad day does that to guys. It makes them talk sometimes when they don’t before. And now you know I’m wondering what I’m going to do about that widow.”
“Yup, she’s a problem that one. She just won’t fit. We’re going to have to build a bigger frame for her I guess. I’ll start working on her tomorrow.”
“What?” asked Tuck, eyebrows shooting up. “You’re going to work on the widow?”
“Window. You mean window.”
“I mean widow,” Tuck said and clenched his jaw.
Joe had to think about that, so he drank more beer as he considered how the red on Tuck’s neck was working its way up onto his ears sticking out from under his John Deer cap. Then he said, so slowly the words seemed to take a long time coming out, “There’s… a…widow?”
Joe was silent again for a bit. He started to think it was because of the beer or the bad day, but either way he’d been talking a lot too much. He thought maybe he shouldn’t say anything more for a while but Tuck was staring at him.
“Well,” he said finally. “I’ll go about fixing up the stained-glass tomorrow.”
"The Brain, within its Groove Runs evenly -- and true -- But let a Splinter swerve --" Emily Dickinson
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