Saturday 26 June 2021

Debut Flash: 'Second Intention' by Nina Miller

Weaving through the day room, I navigated to William by smell, the sharp tang of acetone supplanting stewed vegetables. His thick glasses made his grey-green eyes impossibly large as he glanced at the Q-tip jar I’d placed beside him. Each day, whether in penance or pleasure, he sits dutifully cleaning model cars salvaged from local thrift shops.

We’d met over a model 1969 Ford Mustang, my late husband's first car and main competitor for my affection. I blushed recalling our youthful courtship.

"You're not falling ill are you?" William had asked, looking at me intently. "We haven't gotten our flu shots yet." The worry in his voice was more for himself than for me that day.

I chose to read by his side for the methodical, almost loving way he handled his cars. His slight tremor disappears as he strokes a brush over every crevice. I mistook his quiet demeanor for dementia until he remarked, "That beautiful prime parry against your opponent’s attack

secured you a medal at Worlds. What keeps you from crossing swords with this surly staff?" In that moment, I was seen, like a developing photo materializing in a chemical bath.

"Why do you think this cane is always by my side? Just biding my time, but clearly you know that." I said, bemused and intrigued.

"It's a hobby," he said.

"Cleaning old cars?"

"Befriending fascinating people."

And he returned to polishing the windshield without skipping a beat. The same could not be said for my heart.

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