Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: tangy, tired of using words, accountant, electric lights, hooked on phonics, I found the strangest thing in my pocket
“I found the strangest thing in my pocket,” Peter said at breakfast. He pulled out an eight and half by eleven sheet of paper folded into a tight little square and began to unravel it. “This one is Neruda,” he told Tangy.
She leaned forward, blowing on her cup of hot tea and listened as he read “Ode to the tomato.” She wondered if Peter would notice the paradox of ripe tomatoes in December, if he would realize that Neruda was speaking from the southern hemisphere. She’d stopped wondering if Peter would ever realize that it was she who tucked the poems into his pocket while he slept. Peter seemed resigned to their appearance as if there was a fairy or Poetry Bunny that came around every other week or so. No, she knew Peter hoped it was the tall blonde yoga teacher who was gifting him with these slips of wisdom. But at least he came to Tangy, to share them with her.
Tangy had a love/hate relationship with words. She’d come to the ashram when she was tired of words, longing for quiet, nearly a year ago. Tangy wanted only to cook and clean, but when the Head Yoga Mistress discovered Tangy had a background in advertising she’d recruited her to handle the ashram’s social media accounts. Tangy wondered daily why she had agreed.
“If you’re looking for tranquility,” she wrote in her first post, “You’ve come to the right place.” She’d hoped this lame attempt would prove how unsuitable she was for the job, but the Yoga Mistress had loved it. Tangy was forlorn. Determined to take the easy way out, she packed her bags, prepared to leave. But then Peter arrived and she was smitten.
Peter was a recovering accountant, a budding artist, who created massive sculptures of flamingos and giraffes with electric lights. His eyes seemed to dwell in perpetual shadow. Tangy was struck dumb at the horrors he may have witnessed while balancing corporate budgets. “Is Tangy your given name?” he asked suddenly, right in the middle of reciting the tomato ode.
Tangy took a gulp of tea. She had taken a vow to endeavor to speak only with a Hooked on Phonics cadence, using only CVC (i.e. consonant/vowel/consonant) words, rhyming when possible. She tugged on a lock of her short hair. “Dye head red,” she said. “Dad mad.”
“And so he called you Tangy?”
“No,” she said, lifting her index finger to signify first. “Yangy Tangy!”
He looked puzzled. She shrugged and broke her vow. “For Tangerine!” She laughed. “Mom say, ‘Stop, Pop!’”
He laughed too. She tapped the paper so he’d continue reading but he wasn’t done. “Do you know the Neruda poem about the yellow flowers and the blue sky?” he asked.
“Could you leave me that one tonight?” he asked.
She smiled. “Maybe,” she said, and she knew her war on words was approaching a truce.