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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)

TITLE: Peripeteia
By Michael Throne
03/10/11


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Three twenty-seven.

I stare at the ceiling. In truth, there isnít any reason to be awake, but I am.

I try not to move much. I donít 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, ďWhatever.Ē It was just a littleÖdifferent.

I guess we all feel that way sometimes. Whatever.

I let out a long breath of air.

Three twenty-seven.

Normally, our arguments have a nice pattern. They build for a while. They escalate. Weíre both so sure weíre 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 weíve been drinking.

But not this time.

I glance at the clock.

Three twenty-seven.

Itís been three twenty-seven forever.

I donít know. I guess itís been like this since we were dating. It never even occurred to me to try to change.

But this was different. It wasnít anger; it was like, wellÖlike giving up.

Whatever.

I watch her sleep. Her mouth is wide open. Sheíd be snoring, if she had it in her. Her pretty brown hair lay scattered on the pillow.

Weíve never hit each other. Iíll give us that much, anyway. Even when we throw things, and itís not that often, weíre such bad shots thereís 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. Itís one thing to throw things, itís 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.

Three twenty-eight.

I donít know. Maybe this just isnít healthy, all this drinking and arguing. The look in her eyes tonight, it wasnít hate, not exactly. It was weariness; indifference, maybe. She didnít 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 doesnít take.

Three twenty-eight.

I miss her some days. Like when Iím on the job, making deliveries, and weíve had a big fight the night before, and maybe even called each other names, wicked, vicious names. Some mornings, I canít even remember what all weíd said.

I want to call her, but I canít. I just canít.

Some things a man just canít get past, like saying Iím sorry, even when he is.

I turn back over and watch her sleep, watch her looking so peaceful. Itís 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 Iíve ever learned and go back to sleep. Iím always so certain.

Maybe, Iím wrong.

Maybe Iím wrong yet again.

I close my eyes for an eternity then open them again.

Three twenty-eight.

Her sisterís been telling her to leave me for years. I didnít even want her at the wedding. Figured that when the preacher said, does anyone object, sheíd jump right up and give a list of reasons.

But she didnít.

She said afterward she should have, and she was right, though I didnít admit it.

I look at Kate, her long, brown hair draped across her face.

I canít get back to sleep. I donít know how to fix it.

ďWhatever.Ē

Itís etched on her soul; I can feel it. Itís just a matter of time until she leaves.

Itís just a matter of time.

Kate opens an eye.

ďIím sorry,Ē I say.

ďI know.Ē

She closes her eyes. I roll back over and try to sleep.

Three twenty-nine.

I love you.

I say it in my mind, again and again.

But each time, I hear her reply.

Whatever.


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This article has been read 456 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 03/13/11
This makes me so sad for both of them. Your interspersed time count-off though your story is very effective. Great title, too!
Sunny Loomis 03/15/11
Heavy duty story. I want to know they'll stay together. Thank you.
Bonnie Bowden03/15/11
So many important truths are woven in this story:

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.

Say, "I'm sorry"

Don't drink too much alcohol.

Words do hurt.

Have timed discussions, but don't let them esculate out of control (Maybe have a counselor or referee).
Lillian Rhoades 03/17/11
You packed a lot of emotion into two minutes. Novel approach and, yes, great title!

Congratulations on your third place win!
Margaret Kearley 03/17/11
This is so sad, and so beautifully written. There is only one Hope for them - I long that they find Him. Congratulations on your well deserved placing.
Noel Mitaxa 03/21/11
Congratulations on your placing, for it's well-deserved. Very clever construction around the relentlessness of the digital clock and the churning regrets within the MC's insomnia. You've communicated a striking sense of transparency and vulnerability.