Quandary for a Sunday Afternoon

Thomas Reed Willemain

May 13, 2022


Sunday afternoon challenged Elliott Quirk. He was torn: Was it better to treat Sunday as the traditional day of rest, or did something compel him to utilize, maximize, or other-wize the day? Did utilizing mean choosing optimal non-rest rest, like putting on arctic gear and walking carefully around his freezing, ice-bound neighborhood? Should he instead pen a poem titled “Living your Best Sunday” to try to kick start the Muse? Or should he just find a blanket and zonk out for an hour? As usual, his dilemma was choosing between feeling ground down or feeling guilty.

In the end, the answer seemed obvious but lay in a different direction: He should start working on his taxes. After all, taxes were, according to his grandmother’s famous phrase, “a little of something different”, and he needed different. Still, Elliott dithered.

He slowly rose from his desk by the east-facing second-floor window, where he daily maintained what he mockingly called his “One Man Neighborhood Watch”. He wandered across to a west-facing bedroom and surveyed his back yard. Doing so was becoming a habit, and once again he marveled that those lost decades of grinding had made him an actual owner of actual land.

Today, the view in the back was brilliant in both senses. The sun reflecting off the snow was almost unbearably bright. And the purity of the snow, free of footprints from man, beast, or bird, was stunning. Later, this westward view would reach its peak as the setting sun added warmer colors to the sky and joined with undulating tree shadows to add the most subtle blue. Maybe the best choice was to sit quietly and watch that evolution from a bright, sparkling white, to a quieter white and blue, to night's final lesson in white, black, and gray.

After allowing himself the moment, he dutifully returned to the east-facing window, to a desk soon littered with miscellaneous receipts: his church, her church, three universities, a few disease charities, two public media outlets. His bits of money would carry the fight on his behalf against his own Four Horsemen: Evil, Ignorance, Death, and Barbarism.

But several 1099-Rs and 1099-Divs later, his adult resolve dissolved, and he opted for strategic reconstitution. On the day bed, the plush throw adorned with the colors of the Manx National Rugby Team was soft, warm, and comforting despite its brutish heritage. The ancient triskelion beckoned.

Monday! Yes, Monday was the day for challenges. Monday…

Dr. Thomas Reed Willemain is a former academic, software entrepreneur and intelligence officer. His flash fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Granfalloon, Hobart, Burningword Literary Journal, The Medley, and elsewhere. He holds degrees from Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A native of western Massachusetts, he lives near the Mohawk River in upstate New York.