2LWA Flash Lit Challenge #3, October 2021
They didn’t have much, just a modest house in a working class neighborhood. Art was in the business of floor covering — a tradesman in a busy industry now that housing was booming after the war. Each morning he would lift the heavy rolls of padding and carpet onto his shoulders and load them onto his work truck. His knuckles were thick with calluses from countless days spent crawling around on his hands and knees, and his back was perpetually sore. He hammered down the tacking strip, installed the padding, measured and cut the carpet, prepared the seams, stretched it with the knee kicker that would ultimately give him arthritis in his knees, and then finally used the new power stretcher.
Sewing the seams is where Lucille came in. She was in the business of helping her husband. He was her life. Every morning she packed his metal lunch box with lunch meat sandwiches on Wonder bread, chips, and cookies, and there was always a thermos full of coffee. Many days she accompanied him to work, and on those days she would pack the brown wicker picnic basket for both of them. She brought along a folding chair to sit in while she waited, listening to the radio and embroidering her handkerchiefs while he worked.
Sometimes she sang along, which he loved because she had a voice like a bird, and when the mood struck them they launched into a duet, harkening back to their days of singing on live radio programs. Those were the years when tent revival meetings were sweeping the country and they had been caught up in the fervor.
When it was time to sew the seams in the carpet she would get out her big needles and get down on the floor beside him on her hands and knees where they would work together. They fussed at each other. He would tell her how to do it and she would tell him to hush. Then when it was done she would look up at his aging but still athletic frame and her eyes would sparkle, and she would kiss him three times in quick succession. Always three times.
This was her contribution to his work, their work, this stitching together the pieces of carpet to make an imperceptible seam just as she had stitched their lives together over the years. She was good at it, and it kept them close.