Short Story: Burdens to Bear

Hannah Harrington, BFR Managing Editor

There were hors d’oeuvres to make, kids to feed, a pool to be cleaned. There was a husband to yell at, a party to plan, and a kitchen to scrub. How am I supposed to throw this party in this heat? Simone Selke took a long inhale, wiping a bead of sweat from her brow as she opened the kitchen window, trying to beckon a draft of cool breeze into her sauna of a home. She was exhausted from this weather, having spent the last night sleeplessly shifting positions to find the coolest spot on the bed. Her husband, radiating heat, had not helped her plight.

Her husband now fought the heat on the couch, legs up, dirty feet hanging over the side with a damp rag on his forehead, eyes gazing on the flat screen ahead. Their home team was losing.  Simone turned on the faucet in the kitchen, welcoming the cold water as she loudly clanked and scrubbed the dishes in the sink thoughtfully. She wondered where the kids had run off to, but the stillness of the heat forced her to stay at her station.

“Tom, could you go out and clean the pool, please? We have guests coming over soon,” she tried to sound as gentle as possible despite the red flush on her face.

“Honey, yeah, could you get me a glass of water? The Niner’s are down by seven,” Tom hadn’t looked up from the flat screen.

Simone took another long breath and walked out of the kitchen. She heard her children, finally, running up and down the staircase, giggling and chasing each other in tireless motion. Simone felt a drop of perspiration slowly crawl down her neck, and walked towards the front door, hoping for an outside oasis. She slowly turned the knob of the front door with great effort, listening to the hinges creak as it stubbornly allowed itself to be opened. Waiting, as if for a gust of air, she stood in the gateway, disappointed as she walked onto the shade of the front porch, greeted by a still stifling swelter.

Why didn’t I wear shoes out here? She thought, angry with herself as she looked at the blackness on her feet. Yet another thing I’ll have to clean up. She closed her eyes for a moment, wishing that she had hired a cleaning service to tidy the house before the party.

“I will just clean the pool myself,” she said in a voice loud enough for her husband to hear, and sauntered back into the house. The cool marble floor brought a second of relief to her feet, but it didn’t stop Simone from glaring at her husband as she gathered the nets, the telescoping pole, and the vacuum hose from the closet near the back door.

“Simone, they’re saying that the temperatures are record breaking today!” Tom happily informed her, oblivious to her frustration. He had switched the channels, at least. She ignored him, walking behind him to the front door.

Dreading the task ahead of her, she opened the sliding glass door and took a breath of humid air. She looked at the view of the valley past her home for a moment, taking in the beauty of the blue sky against the brown hills. Still looking in the distance, she set the net in the pool, mindlessly walking around its circular edges.

Suddenly, there was a tug at her net, causing her to look in the pool for the first time. There it was, a grizzly, rubbing the net in between its massive brown paws. Stupefied, Simone set the net down, backing away slowly as she watched the bear happily swim around.

Simone walked into the living room and stood at the front of the couch, her husband finally looking at her and smiling.

“Honey, call your boss, the party’s off.”

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