Someone once said that a writer is a person who observes the suffering of others and decides to take a few notes. Maybe it was me, because I can’t find it with Google. If you know the source of the quote, let me know. Unless it was me, then I don’t want to know.
Anyway, I was in a coffeehouse one day, as far as you know, and I overheard a woman say this to a guy. I imagined what it might portend and wrote this little flash fiction piece. It was originally in third person, but I think first person lends a greater sense of intimacy.
What She Said
“You have no idea how much you’ll miss me. Just so you know, you really have no idea.” That’s what she said.
I stood there in the bright sunlight, shielding my face with my hand and watching her where she stood in the shadowed doorway. I was trying to see, for the last time, how blue her eyes were. And I knew she was right.
I could tell you everything, from the first time I saw her in the park with her dog, wearing a pale yellow sun dress, no shoes. And how when I spoke to her, she took off her dark glasses so I could see those eyes.
As long as I can remember, my life has gone in the same direction. I’ve heard it’s possible to turn around, but I keep going the same way – mostly north, into cold country. Until that day in the park, when we stopped to talk about dogs. It was like I clapped my hands and everything changed. Or like she spoke and I believed.
Now everything has changed again, and of course she was right. I have no one to blame but myself.
My pickup was parked at the curb. As I turned and saw its faded green paint, it looked like a friend who knew I screwed up and didn’t care, who knew the roads where I might find hope, food, and a place to sleep. As I passed in front of it, I felt the heat from the radiator, and I heard her finally slam the door.
Birds singing. Dogs barking. Maybe her dog, clawing its way up the back of her sofa to yell at me through the picture window. A Cessna droned overhead, so I stood for a moment beside the truck to watch it go. As a boy, I loved to lie on my back in the grass and watch the planes. The sound of them could push me to the brink of sleep.
Merging onto the freeway, the growl of the engine working through its gears covers every sound but the rush of air. Sometimes the right thing to do is right in front of you, but its impossible. The mind stands back and begs for time, and the heart defends its solitude. I hate doing what I did and I know that I will pay for it. She was right, and this will be a long road to drive all night.
When I reach the coast and see the sun go down in front of me, I’ll have to bear right at the junction and head north.
What She Said by Kyle Kimberlin is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.