Consequences by B. B. Wright

Unsplash Four

“Where are you going?” I dared to ask as I watched her put on her boots.

“Out,” she retorted.

I glanced at the window. “Winter’s on the war path. Are you sure that’s a wise choice?” A cavalcade of chills rippled up my backside. “You’ll barely see beyond your nose. You’ll get lost.”

She peered at me through a curtain of auburn hair. Whatever she was about to say I could tell she was sizing me up for impact. You get to know those things after living together for a year. We planned to marry in the spring.

I slowly backed away. My only comfort at that moment was the pleasant warmth of the fireplace against my backside.

“Maybe that’s what I want…to get lost.”

My heart sank.

She cocked one eyebrow. “Anyway, what’s wrong with my nose?”

Ugh, I thought, I’m caught in a double whammy. Diplomacy should have shot to the top of my list but my genetics lack dearly there. I have always been told to speak from the heart. Begrudgingly, though, I have learned that my fate is generally more akin to the poor bull in the china shop. Well here I go into the valley. Mine is not to reason why, only just to do and …die? Hmm.

“I’m sorry…I shouldn’t’ve done it.” I tried to muster a smile. “Judith, we can work this thing out. Stay. There’s a nice fire. Your favorite wine is on the counter. And goodies are in the fridge. What do you say? Huh? Oh, and by the way, there’s nothing wrong with that cute pug nose of yours”

Figuratively speaking, an iron curtain suddenly thwacked between us.

“If you think you can placate me with a romantic fire, goodies, wine and appending my appearance to a boxer or pug dog, you’ve got another thing coming.”

Ouch! Calling her a pugilist or a flat nosed wrinkly faced pooch was not my intention.

“Button nose, I meant button nose.” My legs felt like they were being seared by the fire.

She brushed aside her hair and stared at me. “Babies, young children and maybe some teens but adults, no, adults don’t have button noses, Arthur. Now, let me finish.” She held up her hand to silence me. “What’s happening has nothing to do with any of this and you know it. You broke the honesty and trust between us the moment you read my diary. You did it without my permission. And then you had the gull to lie to me.”

Tears bubbled up in the corner of her eyes.

I drew up a chair beside her and sat down. “I’m sorry. I’m such a schmuck.”

“Yes you are.” She looked at me long and hard.

Words stuck in my throat. I could only shrug and shake my head. An eternity of silence passed between us. Her demeanor softened.

“Arthur, please help me. I’m trying to comprehend why you did it.”

I stood up and walked to the window in the living room. Winter’s fury continued to rage outside. “I could say I was thoughtless, in an unthinking sort of way.” I turned to face her. “But, unthinking it was not. Foolish, yes, but my actions… were deliberate. The truth, sometimes, can be a bad thing. This is one of those situations.” I returned to the chair beside her and sat down. “Judith, I have loved you from the first moment I saw you. And still do, even more so. Yet…I allowed doubt to get in the way of that love.”

“Doubts about me?”

“Yes,” I sighed.

“I see… I don’t know what to say.” Taking off her jacket, she neatly placed it over the back of her chair and walked to the kitchen counter. She offered up the bottle of Bordeaux.

I nodded.

When she returned, she handed me my glass and suggested we move the couch so that it faced the fireplace. After we had done that I threw a couple of logs on the fire and joined her. For a long while neither of us spoke. We sat sipping our wine.

There are four essentials to a healthy relationship: trust, honesty, communication and cuddle time (non-sexual touching). And I, being the idiot I am, demolished the first three. What can I say? The curiosity bug had bitten me. To be honest, I have always wondered what she wrote in her diary every day. It had become just too damn tempting not to have a peek. When I saw her with that other guy… well… that just broke the camel’s back. Jealousy did the rest. Who was he? Huh-huh! I thought. There is justification! As I saw it, I now had my moral compass to rifle through her diary.

“Arthur?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What kind of doubt?”

Taking in a deep breath, I curled my leg up on the couch and faced her. “Who was that guy I saw you with last Wednesday outside SideKicks Café?”

I could see a smile curling up at the corner of her mouth. “So that’s your excuse.”

“You deny it?”

She shook her head. “I’m disappointed in you. No, I won’t deny it. What I don’t understand is why you didn’t just ask me? Instead, you let your imagination run away with you.”

She stared at the fire, rolling the goblet between her hands.

“You’re leaving me for that other guy?”

She turned so sharply to face me I recoiled. “That other guy was my brother, you jerk.”

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It Happened One Morning by B. B. Wright

The Path Ahead

It Happened One Morning

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

Black coffee is my elixir for the morning blahs. Definitely not a morning person, I am quite happy to hermit myself away in the den to suck on my over-sized mug of coffee and to read the morning newspaper quietly. It’s not that I’m a growly bear or anything close to it because I think of myself as being quite amiable and pleasant to be with during this time. I just don’t engage in conversation other than the pleasantry of an occasional grunt or nod. You see, in order for conversation to be even remotely considered by me, the cobwebs layering my brain must be fully dissolved and my body must be working more or less on all cylinders. Generally, this occurs after I have finished my third mug of coffee. I say “more or less” because conversation is often hindered by feelings of exhaustion brought about by the number of times I have had to pee. But, nevertheless, at precisely that point in the morning, I am ready, willing and able to gleefully meet the world head-on.

I had poured my first mug of coffee and picked up the morning paper from the hall table when I was distracted by a knock at the door. The bucked tooth Cheshire cat smile of Molly Beaverbottom beamed back at me through the leaded glass window of the front door. Unable to hide, I half-heartedly smiled back and opened the door.

Dressed in an undersized rainbow-colored tracksuit that did nothing to flatter her figure, she said: “Good morning, John. Where’s Julie?”

Juggling my coffee mug and paper with one arm, I used the other to thumb over my shoulder toward the kitchen.

Molly was someone I never relished talking to no matter the time of day. Her voice reminded me of nails scratching on a chalkboard and her chatter had the unpleasant sound of a very pissed off squirrel. Okay! Okay! I’ve exaggerated somewhat. But, I think you get my point.

As I watched Molly waddle down the hallway toward the kitchen, her thighs made the strangest flapping sound, almost like farts, which caused me to giggle. And, for the first time, I thought her surname was well claimed.

I had barely stepped into the den and shut the door when there was another knock at the front door. At first I ignored it until its persistence beckoned me to do otherwise. Slamming my morning paper down on the table beside my LAZ-Y-BOY chair, me and my Marvin the Martian mug exited the den.

Six boisterous and rather intimating women, whom I have never met before, barreled through the open front door causing my coffee to splash over my new shirt, down my pants and onto the floor. Without salutations and blind to the spillage, my mug initially had somehow captivated their attention. Uncomfortable to say the least and feeling like a stranger in my own home I was about to thumb them in what I thought would be the correct direction, when Molly, playing the part of The Pied Piper, whistled this herd toward the kitchen.

“JULIE!” I shouted, not making any attempt to hide my displeasure.

Julie’s cherub-like face appeared around the door of the kitchen: “Yes, dear?”

Oh how I sometimes hated her sweet angelic face and her lilting melodious tone. Especially now.

“May we talk for a moment?” I asked.

Stiffening my resolve, I had every intention of giving her a piece of my mind.

She glanced behind her, said a few words to whoever was nearby and came down the hall to me.

“Ummm…” I stammered.

As always, my resolve turned to mush when she looked up at me with those damn hazel eyes of hers.

“There’s paper towel under the sink in the guest bathroom,” she began. “I’d suggest you change your clothes. Bring them directly to the laundry room and give them a good scrubbing before putting them in the washing machine.”

“Julie? What’s going on?”

“You mean the girls? It’s my new yoga club. We’ve decided to meet here in the mornings, Monday to Friday. It would mean, though, that you would have to give up the den.”

“I would?”

“Yes. It’s the only room large enough to lay out our mats? And, I couldn’t very well ask them to do that in our dirty and dusty unfinished basement. Now could I?”

Julie’s logic per usual was impeccable. She had a way of blending in touchy history with a stinging remark without actually coming right out and saying it.  But her point was crystal clear to me.The history in this case was my misplaced promise to her to build a games/family room in the basement.

Guilty as charged and without any further thought, I gracefully relinquished the den.

“Later we’re going for a run along the path you and I used to run in the mornings. You know the one that…”

“That leads into the woods and comes out along the Port Credit River. Yes I know the one,” I interjected.

“Do you think you might want to come along?” she asked.

“I’m not in the greatest shape, Julie.”

“None of us are. That’s why we’re doing it. Who knows? Maybe your example will draw out their husbands.”

“M-a-y-be. Let me think about it. In the meantime I’d better clean up this mess and get dry clothes.”

“Before you do that, would you mind getting some dishes down from the cupboard over the fridge?”

Prying my way into the kitchen through the jocular squeals gathered at the fruit bowl table, I poured myself some coffee and looked around for the antique step-up Julie and I had bought over thirty years ago. I remembered that she often stored it in the pantry cupboard and, finding it there, I pulled it out and I set it up in front of the fridge and began to climb. When the top step disintegrated under my weight everything went into slow motion, from my fall, to Marvin the Martian smashing on the floor, to the startled look on the women’s faces.

Real time hurt began the moment I crashed onto the floor. Before  passing out, I remembered the weirdly contorted configuration of my leg still stuck through the top step.

A quick call to 9-1-1 and eight hours later I reentered our home in a leg cast and on crutches with Julie’s help. I was told by the doctor that I had broken my leg in three places and that I was to keep my leg elevated as much as possible. It was going to take several months of healing and rehabilitation once the cast was off before I would walk properly again.

Since the television was in the den along with my LAZ-Y-BOY chair, I had, without trying, recaptured the peace and quiet of my enclave.

Julie’s care for me during this period was nothing short of exemplary.

Two weeks into my convalescence, I had found a reputable company to build the room Julie had designed for the basement. “Her dream basement,” as she often called it was now underway.

As for the yoga club, well…somehow that had died as quickly as it all started. Maybe it all had to do with me keeping a promise to her and to myself? I’ll never know. But, I will not engage in hypotheticals.

I now get up two hours earlier to have my three cups of coffee and read the morning paper. Thanks to Molly Beaverbottom, I have another Marvin the Martian mug which she bought while vacationing in Florida and sent to me. Maybe I’ll make a strong effort to have her and her husband over for supper once they return. Who would ever have ‘thunk’ I would have entertained such an idea. Life’s funny in a strange sort of way, isn’t it?

Why get up two hours earlier, you may ask? Because rain or shine now, once Julie wakes up, she and I go for our run every morning on the path into the woods and along the Port Credit River. She has even got me into yoga. And to my surprise I like it. I even feel and look better for it.

The days pass by too quickly now. Our pace has slowed down and is more carefully measured. But when all is said and done, what is important to me is that Julie and I are together helping each other achieve their best in life.

The Road by B. B. Wright

Unsplash Eight“Should I approach? How long has it been since I last saw them together? Saw them, now there’s a lark. I don’t give a hoot about them. It’s only her I care about. Silly after all this time not being able to shake her from my thoughts but, then, I haven’t really tried very hard.

I remember a time when I thought she was THE ONE. Funny thing… she still is. Love has a tendency to do that I’ve been told. He told me that…my best friend did. Still, did she ever think I was THE ONE if even only for a brief moment? A part of me says “yes” she must have because when you’ve shared “I love you,” there is no other answer. Or is there? Come to think of it, I’ve never explored that other side before. And I don’t want to.

She’s looking back this way; I’d better pretend I’m entering this doorway.

I thought I had come to know her; that she had revealed all her fascinating, even mysterious and frustrating complexity. But, by the time our relationship ended I had discovered that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of her inner life. That revelation still confounds me. Yet, I must admit that all that time we spent together was nothing short of miraculous. For me, that is. Was it for her?

How did our relationship become unglued? Was I blind or just too preoccupied with my own needs to forget that she too had needs? I remember the day she left as if it were yesterday. The vindictiveness in her tone is still raw in my memories. I cringe with the thought that she was right when she called me a “selfish jerk.” I do hope that I have changed since then. God knows how hard I have tried.

Why are they here though? This was our favorite location not theirs.

The sound of metal hitting metal still reverberates through my memory with its angry sound; it still fills me with deep remorse and sadness. Why did I drink so much that evening? I should never have been driving. That damn accident became an ever widening ink-spot on our relationship.

How was I supposed to have known she was pregnant?! She never told me. Come to think of it, why didn’t she? Was she seeing him at the time? Maybe it was…no, I won’t go there.

Should I smile if we shake hands? Can I do that? The bastard now holding her hand once was my best friend!

I’ve been told time heals but it doesn’t. I know I can’t change what happened. No one can.

Did she ever forgive me? I would never expect her to forget. How could she. I can’t.

There’s…a small child with them…I guess I am pleased…

She’s moved on with her life. But I can’t. What happened continues to lay waste to my present.

Strange…I’ve rehearsed over and over again what I would say and do if this unlikely opportunity occurred and now that it’s here…well…I’m traumatized to say the least.

I must leave. My thirst for liquor pulls at my vulnerable strings and my oath to the soul of my unborn daughter “to never drink again” may be shattered if I stay. I will not let that happen.

The road ahead leading into the Town Square and in the opposite direction is wistfully reassuring. I must quicken my pace. Unfortunately for me I have chosen a direction that provides no resolution.

Who is it that runs so quickly behind me? Her voice, its lilt, though breathless, is familiar to me.”

“Gerald! Wait! We must talk,” she called out.