Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)
By Michael Throne
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I stare at the ceiling. In truth, there isn’t any reason to be awake, but I am.
I try not to move much. I don’t want to wake Kate up.
Turning my head, I watch her sleep.
We had an argument earlier today, Kate and I. It was over some petty little nothing of a matter, and was over before I knew it. She threw her hands up and said, “Whatever.” It was just a little…different.
I guess we all feel that way sometimes. Whatever.
I let out a long breath of air.
Normally, our arguments have a nice pattern. They build for a while. They escalate. We’re both so sure we’re right, so absolutely certain. They build slowly, powerfully, with certainty, until the fuse finally runs out and we explode, yelling, screaming, calling each other names, and even throwing things, if we’ve been drinking.
But not this time.
I glance at the clock.
It’s been three twenty-seven forever.
I don’t know. I guess it’s been like this since we were dating. It never even occurred to me to try to change.
But this was different. It wasn’t anger; it was like, well…like giving up.
I watch her sleep. Her mouth is wide open. She’d be snoring, if she had it in her. Her pretty brown hair lay scattered on the pillow.
We’ve never hit each other. I’ll give us that much, anyway. Even when we throw things, and it’s not that often, we’re such bad shots there’s not much chance of anything actually landing. Oh, well, I guess there was that one time, when a plate I threw bounced off the refrigerator and caught the bridge of her nose, but that was a deflection.
It shocked us both.
I close my eyes.
We stopped then and there, when that plate hit her. It’s one thing to throw things, it’s another thing altogether for someone to get hurt. When it hit, we just kind of stood there, stunned. I think we were both amazed that one of us could actually touch the other, much less hurt them.
I stare at the clock.
I don’t know. Maybe this just isn’t healthy, all this drinking and arguing. The look in her eyes tonight, it wasn’t hate, not exactly. It was weariness; indifference, maybe. She didn’t say much, but I could see it.
Like when that plate hit her. We both knew it was time to quit.
I pull the covers up and try to clear my mind.
I try, but it doesn’t take.
I miss her some days. Like when I’m on the job, making deliveries, and we’ve had a big fight the night before, and maybe even called each other names, wicked, vicious names. Some mornings, I can’t even remember what all we’d said.
I want to call her, but I can’t. I just can’t.
Some things a man just can’t get past, like saying I’m sorry, even when he is.
I turn back over and watch her sleep, watch her looking so peaceful. It’s hard not to love her like this. Kind of like how little girls love their dolls, maybe. They can make them think and say whatever they want.
I love you. I can almost hear her whispering it.
I try to go back to sleep. I try to forget every truth I’ve ever learned and go back to sleep. I’m always so certain.
Maybe, I’m wrong.
Maybe I’m wrong yet again.
I close my eyes for an eternity then open them again.
Her sister’s been telling her to leave me for years. I didn’t even want her at the wedding. Figured that when the preacher said, does anyone object, she’d jump right up and give a list of reasons.
But she didn’t.
She said afterward she should have, and she was right, though I didn’t admit it.
I look at Kate, her long, brown hair draped across her face.
I can’t get back to sleep. I don’t know how to fix it.
It’s etched on her soul; I can feel it. It’s just a matter of time until she leaves.
It’s just a matter of time.
Kate opens an eye.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
She closes her eyes. I roll back over and try to sleep.
I love you.
I say it in my mind, again and again.
But each time, I hear her reply.
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