To Divorce a Gem
Silvia Coldspoon was a strange woman. She wore multi-colored bathrobes that dragged along the ground as she walked. A nightcap lingered awkwardly atop her head. Inside her house, atop her lush blue carpets, she walked barefoot. Her toenails were bright pink.
In public, her approach was always announced by her flip-flops whether it was winter, summer, spring, or fall. She wore black trench coats that were far too short for her gangly frame whenever she went to or from work. All in all, her appearance was either seedy or silly, depending on the lighting around her. Yet this strange character had a golden heart.
Miss Coldspoon, she had been Mrs. Whithernarrow once, in fact, throughout her entire life, she had been Mrs. Swatchz, Mrs. Dunhow, and Mrs. Stuart; anyway, she owned an ice cream parlor. Every single one of her former husbands had died. You may think that the sorrow from these deaths forced her to revert back to her maiden name. You are wrong. She changed to her maiden name when she opened her baby, Coldspoon’s Ice Cream Parlor.
She was known around town, not only for her vast host of oddities, but for her constant smile. That and her ability to spit gum from her mouth into a trashcan with perfect accuracy. Her parlor quickly became the chief social gathering place in town. It was open from six in the morning—she sold coffee as well—to eleven at night. During that entire day, Silvia meandered around among the customers and talked with them or sat in her office writing children’s stories while her few employers manned the parlor. She found her work delightful.
“Goodbye, Jess, enjoy your date. Jack…he’s a fine man.” Silvia hugged her employee in the doorway.
“Thank you for letting me off work early, Miss Coldspoon. This means allot to me.”
Silvia smiled as Jessica hurried across small town street and got into Jack’s parent’s minivan. They were such a happy couple and yet they had nothing. All of Jessica’s earnings were going toward college and Jack was helping pay off his family’s debts with the money he earned from his laborious construction job. Silvia knew these sorts of details about everyone in town, but she was not a gossip.
She returned to the counter and started to polish it. She ran a finger across the laminated oak. It was smooth and pleasing to the touch. The bell above the door rang. Silvia glanced up at the Coca-Cola clock above the shake machine. It was 12:01AM. She assumed that it must be Ernie coming in from his shift at the local packing plant. Before she even turned around her assumption was disproven. Instead of Ernie’s heavy tread she heard the gentle tap of high heels upon the tile floor. “Becky?
“Yes,” a soft-voiced answered.
Silvia turned around and approached the woman. She brushed tears from Becky’s cheeks. She switched the sign on the door from “open” to “sorry, we’re closed” as she guided Becky to a nearby booth. “Sit down, Becky. I’ll get you some tea and then we can talk.”
“No,” Becky spoke up and then hung her head. “No tea, please.”
“Come now,” Silvia placed her fist on a hip. “It’s on the house.”
“No, but thank you,” Becky answered.
“Alright,” Silvia slid into the seat across from Becky. “What’s the matter, darling?”
“It’s Mike and I,” Becky savagely swiped away her flowing tears.
“Shush, dear, shush.” Silvia reached across the table and grabbed Becky’s hands. “Let them flow, let them flow.”
“Mike,” here Becky dropped her head into her hands. Her shoulders heaved with deep sobs. “He’s filed for a divorce. We go to court in the morning. He says he’s restless. I asked him what was wrong with me and he said ‘nothing!’ I just can’t believe it. We were so happy. Am I too fat? Have I been too emotional? What is wrong with me?”
Silvia rose and sat beside Becky. She wrapped her in a motherly embrace. “There is nothing wrong with you. You are perfect just the way you are. The fault is Mike’s. He is a fool for leaving such a gem as you. Now, shush, shush.”
Becky cried in Silvia’s arms until one o’clock. She raised her head from Silvia’s tear drenched shoulder and said, “thank you.”
“Come stay at my place for tonight, dear.” Silvia helped the shaking Becky into her coat. “I’ll go with you to the judge in the morning.”
So, Silvia closed up and drove home with Becky in the passenger’s seat. They passed the crooked-branched maple tree where Becky had contemplated hanging herself when she first entered Coldspoon’s Ice Cream Parlor. Silvia Coldspoon looked over, placed a hand on Becky’s knee and said. “Whenever you need me I will be there for you.”
A single tear of happiness wandered down Becky’s cheek.
~A short story by Joshua A. Spotts