Molecules vibrate, closing in on my skin, expanding their distance between love and pain, yanking at my vocal cords. I form I hate you with my lips, but the words refuse to see the light of day.
Despair drips, like a Chinese torture technique, flooding my wherewithal to put together sentences, creeping up the hill of my insecurity to invade my rational thoughts.
At 41, life ain’t what I thought it’d be. By now, I’d hoped for a wife—my best friend—to make love to under the stars and own a brick home or a cabin; fuck the white picket fence. I wanted the west coast breeze to pass through my fingers and to inhale fresh firewood in the winter.
Instead, I’m stuck with Anna.
I peck at the keyboard, my glasses rest on the edge of my nose and look up at the screen and peck the keyboard and glance at the screen. I do this for hours.
Anna promised to stop smoking, but she hasn’t kept her word—never has.
I throw my hand to my chest and slide my hand across the table for my gun. “Yeah?”
“I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“How long have you been here?” I ask, closing the drawer in which I’d placed my pistol.
“I stopped smoking,” Anna says, “and this time, it’s for good.”
“You told me to drop dead last week,” I say. “Did you mean it?”
“There you go bringin’ up old news.”
“Yeah, you took the car and—”
“Look, I took the car because—”
“It’s always your mother. What the hell. Can’t you have a life?”
Anna tugs at her engagement ring, and tossed it through the air, hitting my cheek before it landed near my foot.
“Look, Ben, I came to tell you, mom died, and she left us the cabin,” Anna says. “She even had the white fence removed just for you.”
“Wait, I didn’t—”
“No, you fucked up,” Anna says. “I’ll live in the home alone.” She packed a trunkful of bags.
I sat at the table, tapping a pen against my cheek. For the first time, in a long time, my bones trembled, and my skin turned cold to the touch like a car crashed into my body.
I just lost a chance to own a cabin. I gotta get her back.
(to be continued)
“How the fuck did you make it past the gate?” Anna asks, swinging in a rocking chair, removing her reading glasses. “Is this a fucking apology?” she asks.
“I always wanted to read on a deck like this,” I say, breathing in the waterfront porch view. “I fucked up.”
“‘Bout time you figured it out!” Anna mocked.
The screen door slammed shut.
“Who are you?” I ask of the shirtless man.
“You didn’t think I would stay single, did you?”
“You’re somethin’ else,” I say, almost admiring her brazenness.
“You told me you cut it off with him?” the man with the chiseled frame says.
Anna stands to her feet. “Ben was just leavin’.”
“Was I, though?” Ben has her questioning, even herself.
“Go,” Anna says, pointing southbound.
I slam my eyes shut and breathe the sky, holding my arms spread, like Budda, meditating. “You can find your shit on the front lawn.”
“I would, and I did.”
“No way,” she says, shaking her finger. “You’re not a bad person.”
“I can be pushed, too.”
“I’m so gonna get you back!” Anna says, shaking her fists.
My footsteps spread distance, and my shadow fades. Another guy, really? I laughed until I couldn’t.
“Put some clothes on,” Anna tells her brother.
“Why didn’t you tell him I was your brother?”
“I wanted to hurt him.”
Anna grabs her keys and purse. “I’ll be back.”
“Where are you going?”
“To talk to Ben.”
(To be continued.)