24. Forgive Me
He left before he really knew what he was doing. He hung the plastic, “do not disturb,” sign swinging on the door of the motel room, and left. “Forgive me,” he muttered under his breath, to no one in particular, to the cold January air. Morning light slanted into his eyes as he walked briskly up the concrete sidewalk to the lobby. He squinted hard and tried not to think of her. Twenty minutes later he was sitting in his car. The key was in place, but he couldn’t turn it. He sat still, and thought of her, and cried.
22: Share Your Peanuts
Then it was the end of the world. Fire, brimstone, four horsemen, armageddon outta here, the usual drill. We’ve all been there, am I right? The world ends all the time, it’s not any big deal. Like any other bowl of cherries, the pits need to be burned in order to sprout. It’s a little scary the first time, but as soon as the brand new sun pokes over the brand new horizon, it all comes back, and you get it. You turn to the primate in the seat next to you, and smile knowingly, and you share your peanuts.
21: Nothing Familiar
When he turned the key in the lock, a hollow echo came back at him from somewhere in the dark apartment. He stepped inside, a little hesitant, and closed the door behind him, as if he didn’t ever want it closed. She had been there for so long that everything had taken on meaning based on her. And now she was gone. He shrugged off his coat, dropping it on a chair, and went into the bathroom. He took off his clothes, turned on the shower, very hot, and stood in the rising steam, watching himself vanish in the mirror.
20: Dinner At Steve’s
Dinner at Steve’s was the high point of his week. He slid into a booth, the waitress brought him a beer, and he ordered pork chops. People crowded against the bar, or around the tables that balanced across the floor. It occurred to him that he had never taken her here. It wasn’t the kind of place she would have liked. Or maybe he just wanted to keep one thing for himself, one place she would never touch, so that, in leaving him, she could never leave it. He sipped his beer, and when his chops came, he ate slowly.
My 100 word story, “Ithaca,” was published to the blog The Number 26, comprised of passages about passengers on the number 26 bus line. “Regular passengers, on an ordinary bus, in an average city, on a typical day.” Go and take a look; a lot of good writing going on.
13: An Ocean Between Us
She called me from across the ocean, as if it were a river. “I’m staying,” she whispered from her hotel, “they like me here.”
“Oh,” I said, shrugging into the phone. I wondered if she could hear the resignation in my voice. There was a time when it mattered fiercely, like she was an appendage and I couldn’t bear to have her strained away from me, like an arm bending all wrong. Then, suddenly, she could slide softly off, across one ocean or two, and call me like that, and say things like “I’m staying,” and it didn’t really matter.
Me and Casey were the last alive. Now I’m not sure about her. I haven’t seen her in days. The last time I saw her she looked exhausted. The President had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar again, so the election was called off. All hell broke lose, with the requisite fire and brimstone and whatnot. He absconded, and Casey chased after him in a stolen car, careening off into the conflagration. I put down my thesaurus, and kept the porch light on, just in case. Maybe this time it’ll be alright, I muttered, not really believing.