Feathers and Wax

Vicky thought about shopping the whole day at work. It was candles and feathers that she wanted — fat candles, thin candles, enough to fill a whole room. Concentrating on spreadsheets and costings was difficult, the data entry tedious and unexciting; Vicky’s mind kept slipping from the precision, emptiness and drudgery of numbers to the excitement of candles and flame, the firm suppleness of feathers.

Anticipation wasn’t Vicky’s alone. Each of the drudge-workers kept track of the time, could feel the day’s end approaching. Work slowed down, spreadsheets filled with increasing sluggishness; at five o’clock a ripple flowed through the workers — then they stood up from their cubicles, one after the other, in a muted, tired, mistimed wave; put on their coats, took up their bags, departed.

Vicky held her own bag and coat tight against the chill.

Candles were easy to find, being everywhere, in each shop. The feathers were the problem. At this last minute she only managed to find a feather duster which, she was assured, was made of genuine ostrich feathers. She ripped out a single feather and threw the rest into her bedroom cupboard.

The candles she arrayed around her bedroom, beacons of flame resting on the bookshelves and dresser. A short, fat, unlit candle remained on the nightstand. Beside it, the feather. But alone the feather seemed bland, a forgotten frippery. Vicky arranged the feather over her handcuffs, mixing dull colours and hard steel.

Vicky waited for the doorbell in her kitchen with a glass of merlot in hand.

10 thoughts on “Feathers and Wax”

  1. I very much liked this: feather as literally fetishistic focus. The contrast between the grey tedium of the office and the flame/feather excitements of the, er, extra-curricular activities, is very strong. I particularly like the balance and precision of the sentence which starts “Work slowed down…” – lovely writing.

    If I had a problem with this, it’s that it seems slightly unbalanced – did the word limit catch up with you unexpectedly? There seems to be more attention paid to the daily grind than the evening’s expectation, so the mundane seems more detailed than the exciting. Or possibly it’s because the writing is so strong describing the office, and requires an equal and opposite degree of power and colour in rendering the feather/candles/expectation.

    Loved the anticipation in the last sentence, though. Amazing how the choice of detail – “merlot” rather than “wine” – contributes to the vividness and immediacy of the scenario.

  2. This is a story about an office worker who looks forward to the end of a long week and an erotic evening involving candles and feathers.

    The contrast between the office life and the inner life of Vicky is lovely, and powerful. I enjoy that the dramatic, passionate inner life of a grey office worker – it really made me think of what others are up to!

    Some of the language is great and works beautifully:
    in a muted, tired, mistimed wave;
    put on their coats, took up their bags, departed.

    Other bits were not so smooth for me: “drudge-workers”, and the repetition of “workers” on general, “Anticipation wasn’t Vicky’s alone”, and the repetition of Vicky.

    I agree with Docinatrix re: timing and pace, but appreciate that you got it in on time!

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lovely writing – very simple idea without trickery or flippancy. Enjoyed the dullness of work, the difficulties in the shopping phase and the chilled deliberateness of the set up at home.

    Enjoyed the contrasts and the ‘objective’ point of view – works well on such intimately everyday themes.

    Had issues with this sentence: ‘Candles were easy to find, being everywhere, in each shop’ – can’t seem to parse it properly as all (everywhere within each shop / everywhere including shops).

    It also threw me slightly that she starts off looking for feathers (plural) but in the end only needs one.

  4. This is a beautiful, gentle piece, about the preparation for a romantic sexual evening and how it gently sits in Vicky’s mind throughout her mundane day. I didn’t find it particularly unbalanced – I enjoyed the way the anticipation was subtly present in the tedium of work and how this was described.

    I particularly enjoyed “Vicky’s mind kept slipping from the precision, emptiness and drudgery of numbers to the excitement of candles and flame, the firm suppleness of feathers” – loved the contrast and evocative sensual description.

    I also enjoyed the brief, almost offhand description of the hand-cuffs. It added a harder, exciting sexual edge to the romantic setup.

    I also didn’t like “drudge-workers”. It grates a little.

  5. Great writing – really brought out the grey blandness of office work (argh, flashbacks!), especially in contrast to the candle-y flame-job of outside.

    “Candles were easy to find, being everywhere, in each shop” made me scratch my head a little also.

    I also especially liked “ripple flowed through the workers” section. Very nice.

    I had no problem with drudge-workers, but maybe people’s tingles were thrombled by the “emptiness and drudgery” a few lines before?

    Also: submitting on time FTW! :)

    1. Thanks, Mr S 😉 If I’m not careful — and I clearly haven’t been in the last few submissions, considering how often people mention it :( — I tend to repeat words :-/ Another item on my list of bad habits to look out for.

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