A Perfect Match
Until the day Briony came home from school and found her father dead in the kitchen she hadn’t paid much attention to detail. Her first reaction was to pick up a dishcloth and wash the benches. As weeping visitors streamed through the house she made them cups of tea, washed up and rearranged the cups, pointing all the handles in the same direction. While the visitors commented on her self-possession, Briony was busy colour-coding everything in her wardrobe and arranging pens on her desk according to size and shape.
Her attention to detail earned her a scholarship. At university, she dumped boyfriend after boyfriend because of their flaws. One was always late, another left coffee rings on the table in her flat and swigged milk from the bottle. The last one had no obvious flaws until he asked Briony to check his essays. She tried to overlook the dangling modifiers, but the misplaced apostrophes brought on a migraine. She gave up trying to find her perfect match.
Her striving to produce faultless assignments meant they took so long to complete that each missed deadline compounded her sense of failure. She dropped out of university and found a job cleaning the house of a retired Eng Lit professor. A widower. There, her attention to detail produced tangible results. The prof told her his bathroom had never gleamed so brightly, his floors had never sparkled with such brilliance. He asked her to move in.
While Briony thought it over she looked out of an upstairs window to see how he mowed the lawns. She saw him stop after each strip to check they were perfectly parallel. Her heart soared. As he finished the last strip he failed to notice it had a slight kink in it. Her heart sank. She weighed up the pros and cons. She wondered if it was time to move in or move on.
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Sandra Arnold lives in New Zealand. She is the author of three books. Her short stories and flash fiction have appeared in many online and print journals.