The Two Jims

© J. Francois Barnard - 9 February 2024

Jim woke at his usual time, around 5 am. He got dressed to go for his usual 5-kilometer walk. And as usual, he walked past Nette's room, now empty. He leaned against the doorframe and stared at the empty bed, neatly made.

This is where Ellie found him, staring at the bed.

Jim and Nette"I thought you went walking?" she said. "She's gone, Jim."

"I know," he replied and went for his walk.

On his return, Ellie served their breakfast and noticed how Jim's hand opened and how he held it out for Nette to take before he said grace. But Nette's place was empty. She was on her honeymoon somewhere, and hopefully, she was holding Rory's hand while he said grace.

But would Rory say grace before they have breakfast? Ellie held this thought private because she knew it would upset Jim.

They ate in silence, each to their own thoughts. When he finished, Jim looked at Nette's empty place at the table and remembered how she would offer to take the dirty dishes to the dishwasher if he would only pack them. He rose slowly to do it on his own. Ellie knew what he was thinking and quickly helped him.

Jim walked outside to open the gate for the garden services contractor. He walked past Nette's empty carport and thought about the little Honda he bought her three years ago. He still remembered how he, Ellie and Nette went to the dealership to do the transaction. Nette had just graduated, and the Honda was his gift to his beautiful daughter. Now, it was probably left outside in the street at her and Rory's new house. Would Rory ensure that she would have it serviced when it was due?

Jim sighed and walked back into the house. Ellie was on the phone and enjoyed a lively chat with Nette. Jim wondered if Rory was also now staring at his wife.

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Jim woke at his usual time, around 5 am. He got dressed to go for his usual 5-kilometer walk. And as usual, he walked past Nette's room, now empty. He smiled. Nette and Rory were on their honeymoon, and Rory texted him a photo of their view over the bay. Ellie received the same picture from Nette, and he and Ellie laughed about it.

On his return from his walk, Ellie served breakfast. Jim said grace and added to his prayer a blessing over his daughter and new son-in-law.

"Look at this!" said Ellie and showed Jim a picture Rory sent of Nette standing at the stove in their chalet, baking eggs.

"Nette at a stove!" exclaimed Jim and roared with laughter. He recalled how she once said that she would never become a wife who knew her "place in the kitchen."

A noise outside at the gate reminded Jim that the garden services would like to enter, and he went out to welcome them. "I see Nette's Honda is still here with you," said the contractor. "Yes," replied Jim, "Rory asked me if they could leave it here while they are on honeymoon. I plan to take it in for a service tomorrow."

Back in the house, Jim could hear that Ellie was on the phone. "Here is Dad," said Ellie and turned on the camera of her phone. He and Ellie looked at the smiling faces of Rory and Nette on the small screen. They were on the beach and seemed content and relaxed.

"We are so happy to see you!"

Editor's note: The above two stories were the result of an assignment done in the Creative Writing course, Section The Craft of Style, at Wesleyan University.