A Broken Hallelujah

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

FLASH Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 27

“That the last of it?” he says.

She hands him the box labeled ‘books’ and looks over shoulder at her little house.

“I think so. I’ll take one last look.”

He shoves the box into the back of her SUV. He doesn’t follow her into the house. The temptations were too great, and she was leaving. That much was clear now. It wasn’t at first. Initially, he had thought this wasn’t happening. She’ll change her mind, but it was happening. She was leaving him. He feels he might throw up. Or cry. She hates that more than anything, crying.

He wants to hold her tight. Shake her until she understands all that he feels.

He hates confrontation. If he had learned how to fight with her, he believes it wouldn’t have come to this. But he hated fights as much as confrontations. Indeed, weren’t fights essentially just confrontations? He doesn’t know.

He wanders to the edge of the narrow road, kicks rocks into the shallow divot between her property and the seldom traveled lane.

Can she not see how conflicted he is? Must he say the words that will push her into her defenses? He would prefer to love her without disputes and conflicts. But that is not the way such things go when neither person involved is healthy.

He is an addict. When he considers the enormity of his addiction, it leaves him tired, lethargic.

She seems to be borderline. Her moods can shift so quickly that it left him less than forthright, less than impeccably honest in communications with her.

He hears her opening and closing doors inside her house. He stares up at the sun and wishes to be away from this. He’d loved her the best way he knew how, but she needed more. She needed things he couldn’t provide; she needs financial security. An endless parade of poor decisions with money left him insecure, and he held very few illusions that that would likely ever change. He didn’t care about money. As he aged, he learned to care about the things money could buy, the better healthcare. He was 59 and never even had a prostate exam. He feared things were shifting in him. That one day, he would wake up, and it would be too late. That when he finally found his way back to a doctor, the doctor would shake his head sadly, tell him he was very sorry, that perhaps he should look into setting his affairs straight. That business. The business of death.

He turns back to her house just as she steps out. She tugs the door shut tightly. Twists the knob twice to ensure it’s locked.

She’s been crying, he can tell. Just now, in the house. She’s careful not to meet his eyes. She hates either side of the crying thing.

She comes to him. They hug for a time. She tells him she will call him from the road and at night. He tells her she should; that he needs her in his life.

She gets in her car. He leans in and kisses her, a quick kiss.

“I promise, if we get together again, we will have the timing right. I’m going to return to therapy.”

“That’s great,” she says with little energy.

And? He half expects her to take the bait, to own her portion of what had soured between them.

“Okay,” he says and pauses.

Going, going, gone.

“Alright then, call me later?”

She nods, and her eyes are wet again.

She pulls out first. The man sits in his car, watching her drive away; wondering about this crazy woman he’d loved so desperately and if he did right by her. He wants to start his car, race after her, and catch her. He wants to confront her, but he does nothing. He sits in his car with the key in his hand.

Clouds move in front of the sun. It looks like it might rain.

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