Never Lovelier

(850 words)

It was a beautiful day, thought Mr. FtF as he sat on the patio with his newspaper waiting for his wife to come down. Why did it always take her so long to get ready in the morning, he wondered? All that … preening! He put his paper down and gazed at the canal that flowed past the bottom of their garden. Purple liquid sparkled in the light of the two suns in a way that never ceased to amaze Mr FtF. It depended on their positions relative to each other he supposed, as he sipped his kaffa.
The canal was wide, twenty times as wide as their house he’d once calculated, and theirs was a big house too, a grand affair on many levels fabricated from clear plastic. He liked the way passersby on the canal could see their expensive furniture, pictures and ornaments, not least the life-size statue of the Great Ruler, carved from a rare and precious green stone.
“Good morning, Mr FtF.”
He looked up at his wife. “Why, Mrs FtF, you look lovely today! The kaffa’s hot and there’s toasted fragen. Come and join me.”
Mrs FtF sat down. She loved the way she could feel warmth on her front and back at the same time and watch the canal flowing slowly past, in no hurry to go anywhere. “Anything in the paper, Mr. FtF?”
“Hah. Look at this!” He held up the newspaper to show a picture of some kind of craft.
“What is it?” she asked.
“A goddamned rocket ship can you believe! That’s what this addle-brained government want to build!”
Mrs FtF poured a cup of kaffa and spread a slice of fragen with a creamy blue paste.
“Well, they must have a reason.”
“Reason be damned!” exclaimed Mr. FtF. “They say they’re going to fire it into space!”
“Where would it go, and who would drive it?”
“That’s just the point, Mrs FtF, there is nowhere to go! As to who would pilot it, airmen would be specially trained.”
Mrs FtF felt excited. “Maybe they’ll find some new people out … out in space!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Our scientists have scoured the sky with the best telescopes ever built. Looked out to other galaxies even. No sign of anyone! In any case, the Great Ruler says that GdG created the universe, especially for us, here on this planet.”
Mrs FtF stood up and bowed her head. “Praise be to GdG.” Then she sat down again.
“Anyway, where are they going to get the money to build this thing?” asked Mr. FtF, rhetorically.
“Good morning Mr FtF, good morning Mrs FtF!” It was their neighbour, Mr DnD, sailing past on his silver sailboat. He pulled into the bank, tied the sailboat and walked up their garden path. “You’re looking lovely today, Mrs FtF, if I may say so!”
Mrs FtF felt a flush of pride. “Why thank you, Mr. DnD, and, yes, you may say so!”
They all laughed. “Come and join us,” said Mr. FtF.
Mr DnD sat down and Mrs FtF poured him some kaffa and spread some fragen.
“I suppose you’ve heard about this crazy spaceship idea?” asked Mr FtF.
“Well, my son works for the government, as you know, so I’ve been hearing about it for a while. But I’ll tell you something you don’t know. Where they’re going to get the money from.”
“Where’s that then?” Mr FtF asked. But Mr DnD seemed in no hurry to spill the beans, chewing his fragen, sipping kaffa and gazing at the leisurely flowing purple canal.
“Come on, Mr DnD,” said Mrs FtF. “Out with it. Don’t keep us in suspense!”
“Clothes, Mrs FtF. That’s where it’s coming from. Clothes, they’re going to tax our clothes!”
“Tax our clothes? How will they do that? I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous!” exclaimed Mr FtF.
“Well, a government inspector will call round and count your clothing items. You’ll pay one per cent of a unit per month for each clothing item.”
Mr FtF made an exasperated gesture. “Well, Mrs FtF’s going to cost me about …” He made a quick calculation “… about three units a month!” He turned to his wife. “Right Mrs FtF, tomorrow I’m going to take half your clothes to the tip. So, you’d better get started sorting!”
Mrs FtF pulled a face. “What about you, Mr FtF, all those old shirts that don’t fit you anymore! All that fragen you eat!”
“Pah,” exclaimed Mr FtF.
“Anyway, Mr DnD, what about gloves, does each one count as a clothing item?” asked Mrs FtF anxiously.
“Don’t worry, Mrs FtF,” smiled Mr DnD, “each set counts as one item.”
Mrs FtF got up. “Excuse me, I just need to er, powder my face.” She went indoors, both hearing and seeing the men arguing about the relative values of firing a rocket ship into space. Whoever heard of such a thing, she thought. In the bathroom, she reached out a tentacle for a towel and wiped her forehead. She admired herself in the mirror, where her five eyes blinked back. She felt so happy she could feel drool spilling from her beak. Yes, she did indeed look lovely today!

Featured in the book, Letters from Reuben and Other Stories: 40 Little Tales of Mirth

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2 thoughts on “Never Lovelier

  1. Once again a totally fun read by Mr. Wood! An eyebrow raise here and a chuckle there … a great way to spend a few minutes. Especially worth the lol at the end! Great fun!

    1. Thank you, Nancy, I really enjoyed writing that one. I wasn’t sure whether to expand it a bit more but 850 words felt enough to tell the tale. I’m pleased you found it entertaining!

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