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A Cold Summer Morning

So, I've been working on the new screenplay and haven't had much, if any, time for short stories. There was a longer one that I was working on for last month, but I never had time to work on it. So, this is what you get in the meantime. I hope to have the new one done before the end of the month.

Meanwhile, there's going to be some flash-fiction, more poetry and I think Jason has another short story percolating.

Enjoy it (and tell your friends to stop by for a visit)...

She awoke alone, his familiar form absent from the bed next to her. The smell of morning coffee wafted up the stairs and she took a deep breath, inhaling the aroma while she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. As soon as her eyes opened, she could see the light seeping in through the edges of the Venetian blinds was still the gray of early morning or an overcast day.

Drifting in and out of consciousness for the next ten minutes, Vicky finally pulled herself into the full realm of wakefulness and rolled out of bed.

Wrapped warmly in her soft, terry robe she left the comfort of their bedroom. Descending the stairs toward the kitchen, the rich odor of the coffee grew stronger and stronger in her nostrils.

Walking into the kitchen, she saw him standing there, staring bleakly out the window at the cold, early summer morning. In his matching bathrobe he sipped his coffee and gazed at the black storm clouds, gently coating the grass and street with a thick layer of dew.

He didn’t turn to meet her gaze as she poured herself a cup of coffee of her own from the pot. He simply stared out the window, looking at nothing in particular, but the morning as a whole. She sat down at the kitchen table, facing him. Stirring the milk and sugar into the coffee until it turned the color of light chocolate, she looked up at her husband, wondering what was on his mind.

The coffee was hot and bit at her tongue when she took the first sip, holding the cup to her mouth with both hands, but it tasted good and made her feel awake.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, breaking the silence.

“Nothing,” he replied.

After a few moments, still gazing out the window, he changed his answer to, “Nothing really.”

Taking another hot sip from her steaming mug, she left it at that. She was still too tired to do anything other than leave his words hanging in the air. Tired as she was though, she could feel the tension rising in his chest from across the room. She knew him better than anyone, and well enough to know he had something to say.

There was a flash of lightning that brightened the room through the window, followed a few moments later by the baritone snap of thunder. Following that, the rain picked up and they could hear the individual drops hitting the window and the roof.

“Bad dream?” she asked.

“Yes and no. I don’t remember the details, but I remember for a moment it felt as though it alternated between dread and... I don’t know… Falling in love? Those are normally my favorite dreams. The ones where you go to bed dead tired and wake up and feel like you’ve fallen in love all over again. But this one had this feeling of doom to it. A finality I can’t explain.”

“Hmmmm,” she replied, taking another sip of her rapidly cooling coffee. She could tell it wasn’t the dream he was holding back.

Finally, he could no longer hold it in. “You know I’d meant to leave you. A dozen times I’d tried and I never could.”

He paused, letting that sink in. He never turned from the window. Turning and seeing her there would remind him that he was actually confessing this and it would be too much for him to bear and he wouldn’t be able to say it. He took another deep breath, “I never wanted to get married. I never wanted this. And it just got harder and harder until suddenly we were married. I wanted to go and do my thing and just be alone.”

She wondered how long this had this had been weighing on his mind. So far as she knew there were no secrets between them. No matter how hard it might have been to listen to, deep down, she felt excited that he could still surprise her with some tidbit of deep, personal information.

It was clear that it was a struggle for him to continue, “For the longest time, I felt like I needed to hurt you. To make it stick. I felt like I needed to plunge a dagger into your heart. So you wouldn’t follow. But here you are.” After a brief pause, he added, “Here we are.”

Vicky put her coffee down on the table. Even dampened by the din of the pouring rain, the sound of the ceramic mug hitting on the table was sharp. Her mind raced, wondering where this could be leading.

“We were kids when we got married. Over the years I constantly wondered what it would be like to be living alone. I’d go out of town for work and pretend you didn’t even exist, trying to manage a taste of what I wanted. It never seemed to work. I just couldn’t shake you. And you wouldn’t go away. Despite my best efforts, you couldn’t let go of me. There’s something about me that you see that I’ll never understand that keeps you here no matter what. And I just don’t get it.”

For what seemed like a long while, neither of them said anything; the confession filled the room like the sound of the rain beating on the house.

“You know I love you, right?” He turned to look at her, the landscape had finally broken its spell on him. She was nodding, holding back tears.

He came around the table and sat next to her, putting down his cup of coffee and placing his arm delicately around her back. Vicky leaned her head down onto his shoulder and he put his lips to her ear.

Softly, he whispered into her ear, she could feel the hot breath of his words as he spoke, “I guess what I’m getting at is that I didn’t know what I wanted before. But I do now. And it is you.”

Kissing her on the top of the head, he pulled her away from him and turned her to face him. Tears were streaming down her face, but she had a peculiar grin. Wiping the tears from her cheeks and under hear eyes, he made a soft shushing sound and asked, “Why are you crying?”

Using the sleeve of her robe, she wiped the rest of the tears from her chin and face and told him, “Because I’m happy.”

He smirked, “Why?”

“Because I love you.”

She embraced him, squeezing him across his middle, pressing her head into his chest, and suppressing more tears.

Quietly, he told her he loved her too, and meant it.
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