Here’s a little flash fiction story I wrote in one of my creative writing classes in college a few years ago. It was one of my earlier attempts at writing, but I still like this story and thought I’d share it 🙂
Sitting on a checkered blanket, covering the dew-filled grass, Libby watches as the first light fills the sky. It’s late August, but the breeze that blows over her has the distinct chill of impending autumn. She shivers and wraps her sweater tighter around her, enjoying the peace of the early morning. She feels that something isn’t right, though she can’t put her finger on what it is. Since she couldn’t sleep, she came outside to distract her mind from such troubling thoughts.
The front door opens, and she hears his soft footsteps as he comes out to join her.
“The sunrise is beautiful, isn’t it,” he says.
“Yes, it is,” she says.
Looking over her shoulder at him, she marvels at how beautiful he is, even having just climbed out of bed. His dark hair tousled by the gently blowing breeze, his eyes blue and infinite like the open sky, and his smile that touches her very soul. He kisses her cheek and combs her brown curls with his fingers. She closes her eyes, loving the feel of him touching her. She wishes moments like this could last forever.
His hand drops from her hair, as though the universe hears her desire for him and insists on thwarting it. He sits next to her and pulls his knees close to his body, wrapping his arms around them, and joins her in staring at the sunrise.
He clears his throat. “I need to talk to you about something,” he says.
She doesn’t respond, continuing instead to stare at the sunrise, heart pounding in her chest. She takes a deep breath, willing herself to remain calm. Her mind desperately working to figure out what could have gone wrong in their relationship?
“I love you, but…” he begins.
She squeezes her eyes shut, blocking the tears threatening to fall.
“But,” she says.
He breathes deeply, exhaling as his words come out in a rush. “Libby, I have a wife.”
She stops breathing. Her heart freezes. Her stomach drops. Frantically, she tries to make sense of the sounds and form them into something tangible in her mind.
“A wife,” she repeats.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen, it just did. When you and I hit it off, I was afraid to tell you about her. I really love you, but I can’t leave my wife.”
She cringes when he says “my wife.” Clutching her stomach she attempts to process the unbelievable. She searches her memories of the past year for clues she hadn’t seen, as her mind races with questions.
“D-do you have kids?”
“Yes, but they are from her previous marriage. I’m the only father either of them knows because they were so young when their real father died. I love them. They’re my world,” he says, looking out into the distance.
Unable to hold the tears back now, she lays her head in her hands as sobs rack her body. They had fantasized about how their children might look and who they might take after. Together they had joked that little James would have his dark hair and strong chin, and how little Kelly would have her curls and bright eyes.
“I see,” she says, drying her eyes on her sleeve. But she didn’t see. Couldn’t see or comprehend the motives of the man sitting next to her. Couldn’t fathom the truth he had revealed. She sits there in silence for a moment, letting the numbness take over. There are too many questions, and no answers she can bring herself to hear. But there is one question she must know the answer to.
“Why,” she asks. She closes her eyes, heart pounding, waiting for his answer.
“I’m not in love with her. We barely speak, and then only about the kids. But with you I connect. I can talk to you and you get it. I love the laughing we do and the sweet warmth of your body next to mine. I want that to be all there is in the world.”
“But it’s not,” she says, tears running down her cheeks despite her attempts to hold them back.
He hangs his head in response and stares silently at his fidgeting thumbs.
As her tears ebb, she becomes aware of the trees above them; she can hear the chirping of the birds. She sees neighbors walking outside to grab the morning paper. The air is warming up as the sun continues to rise.
“So, what about us,” he asks.
She looks over at him, at the man she had treasured so dearly only moments ago. But now she sees only a broken man, with a broken marriage, and a host of broken dreams.
As the sun continues to brighten the sky, she realizes that now she does see. She sees that it’s time for him to return to his family. She sees that her future lies down a different path now. Gathering herself together, she walks inside and shuts the door.
© S.M. Lowry 2015