Cliché beaucoup

January 13, 2010

Photo by Pam Wells © 2010

The blank page on the screen cast a techno-white pall on Audrey’s face. French cheeses and books on French cheeses were stacked next to the computer. Merde, she said to herself. I don’t have a fresh word left. I’m all used up. Washed up. Belly up. Up a creek. Over hill, over dale. Oh, la vache!

She pushed away from the old wooden desk. It lived by the window in her attic writing space. Her studio. She would redo it when her writing income covered more than imported cheese.

“Let’s slap some paint up there,” Carl had said. “I can get a good deal on carpet remnants.”

“No,” she’d said. Non.

She stretched her neck one way—pop—the other way—crunch—reached high and bent down to the floor. Her hair, a tangle of mouse brown and salon highlights, hung loosely. Hamstrings burned. Aïe.

Soon Audrey stood at the cooktop, her face reflecting the glow of spaghetti sauce. Chopping onions had felt good. Mincing garlic had felt even better. She whacked a jar of artichoke hearts upside down against the floor, righted it and gave the lid a quick turn. The vacuum seal popped.

“Voilà,” she said as Carl walked in.

He clapped. “Jar trick. Do it again.”

“I can’t,” she said. “I’m a one-trick pony. I’m a walking, talking cliché.”

“Who speaks French.”

Audrey smacked him.

“C’mere,” he said, and wrapped his arms around her. “Cliché me.”

She smiled. “It sounds good when you say it. It even sounds—” She lifted her head.

Moments later Audrey snapped shut her French-English dictionary. “Guess what the French gave us besides fromage?”

“Canada?”

“No! Le cliché. Call me crazy, never putting two and two together. And now I have an angle on my cheese story. Merci.

“Spaghetti.”

“What? Oh—” and she threw a few noodles against the wall to see what would stick.

© 2010 Pam Wells

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