In her script that he would so often say he couldn’t read, she writes the words that hopefully he will understand. Determined to make the last simple sentence be the first verbal sentence she speaks to her husband tonight, Melissa closes the book, gently places it on the table, and walks through the door with resolve and trepidation.
As she drops the match on the soaked charcoal, she stares as the bricks ignite and wonders how hot it will get tonight and shakes her head at the insanity of grilling steaks on a night like tonight. While the coals work toward a calm white, she sits and sips her glass of Cabernet, hoping it will calm the warring butterflies within her troubled soul.
It seems it’s not only her nerves that have been warring this unseasonably, warm March in 2012. The good people of the midwest have taken shelter at least three times this month from what seems Armageddon style tornadoes that have already killed 33 people.
The screen door slams–as it has for the past two years–and even though she should be use to it by now, she is robbed of any sense of calm. After 10 years of slowly, subtly suppressing the big things, the little things mount and bother her the most now.
In an effort to greet him, she stands and turns toward the patio screen door which leads into the light blue kitchen adorned with welcoming bursts of color and a shelf of Willow Tree Angels, and her eyes fall on the angel with its arms stretched high and wide creating an internal smile of freedom of the faceless wood.
Be strong, she whispers to herself as she slowly breathes in and exhales.
“Hey, What’s up?” he says as he slides open the patio screen.
As she looks at him, she answers to herself, No, I’m not, but I desperately want to be.
“Oh, I’m sorry, was in a daze.” Guess it won’t be my first sentence after all, she thinks to herself as she swallows yet another defeat. “How was golf?”
“It was good! I kicked ass!”
“That’s great. You sure had great weather for it.”
“Yup. Hey I’ll season the steaks and then jump in the shower.”
As he showers, she pours her second glass of warm courage and sends up a another prayer, a prayer which she questions how God hears. Spanning the wooded back yard with its tire swing and dilapidating trampoline and shed, she intentionally and slowly breathes in and exhales, just as her Daddy taught her to when needing to relax.
It should have been said a long time ago, and at 40, Melissa can’t imagine another decade of loneliness.
“Man, that felt good.”
She turns toward him and takes in his chiseled features, sun-soaked skin and wavy brown hair. She still wants him.
“You got a lot of sun today.”
“I know. How was your day?” he asks as he pours his glass of cab, walks over to her and kisses her on the cheek.
The kiss shocks her to a response, “Oh, uh well thanks, my day was pretty uneventful.”
“She’s at the Carter’s for Tiffany’s birthday sleepover.”
As the steaks sizzle and the wine warms, the two exchange surface conversation, and she longs for a cigarette.
“Craig, I, uh, I don’t want to . . .”
“You don’t wanna what?”
“Just a minute. I’ll be right back.” She opens the door to her home-office, walks to her journal, opens to the last sentence of the last paragraph and absorbs the sentence written in ink.
She closes the book, closes the door, and walks back to the deck.
He’s texting and doesn’t look up.
“So what were saying? You don’t want to what?”
“Craig, exhale, I don’t want to be married anymore.”
His fingers stop moving, and he looks up into her eyes for the first time in years.
fictional short story written by Angela St.Clair.