Friday, September 04, 2009

#fridayflash - Press Goodbye

Just the two of us in the elevator. Good, easier to keep my heartbreak private. Piped music wafts from the speakers and fills the silence. I am struck by familiar thoughts of how to make myself feel better. I blame it on the tango.

How appropriate that the ludicrous Musak rendition of Adiós Muchachos fills the cubicle as she and I are falling to the first floor on the express. We are saying the final adios after two years of togetherness. One week ago, while folding the laundry, she confessed that while she “cares for me and always will” things have been changing for too long.

“We argue about nothing important,” she said.

I agreed. We were really good at hitting the wrong buttons, and exhausting our patience. But I want to make this work, I told her. I need time.

Well, the clock is not ticking anymore.

There’s another guy, she said, and asked me to move out. Unfortunately, we share too many friends who arrange too many parties too frequently. What about our poker nights? Our ultimate Frisbee games? The camping? She insisted she had no problem with seeing me at any of these gatherings. We were friends at the beginning, and we can keep up the friendship. Ok? This, however, is not ok nor enough for me. Go back to square one? No. I stopped her hands from picking up another piece of clothing.

“Look at me,” I said. “I can’t live like that. I can’t see you at Jason’s house or Leanne’s apartment or at anybody else’s place and just pretend that it doesn’t affect me. Especially if you bring…him.”

She pulled away and walked to the other end of the room.

“Then, we have to arrange something. Maybe our friends can invite us to different things.” she said.

“You want us to share custody of our friends?”

“If you want to call it that.”

People fight over children, over pets, over property. What would a judge rule in our case? I laughed at the absurdity.

I picked up my keys and walked to the front door. I knew she needed me to tell her something that would settle everything. She waited, probably nervous that I would beg her to stay.

“It’s best that we never see each other again.”

I saw sadness. I saw guilt. But I also saw the quick glint of relief in her eyes.

I turned away, and stepped out into the daylight.

We have spent this week emptying the apartment and moving my stuff to a new place. Many nights I walked from the living room futon to look at the bed we once shared with great excitement. She is never home at night, but I will not sleep in the bedroom by myself.

This last elevator ride is to be my final memory of her. She smiles. I know she is grateful that I have kept it friendly during this week of packing. Well, I have always been known as a good guy, too good, if you ask my male friends. My seemingly civilized acceptance of what I call The Betrayal, and she calls Fate, is what allows her to laugh and finally make small talk with me in unconcerned relaxation as we ride to the end. I hand her my copy of the keys and think about how happy I was when I first used them.

“Do you remember when we would go dancing on Friday nights? And how we always promised ourselves that we would learn how to dance the tango?” I ask while keeping an eye on the descending numbers. I do not have much time.

Her grey eyes look at me, and she nods. I push her dark bangs away from her face and place a kiss on her forehead. I always did this every morning before the elevator reached the lobby floor. She does not flinch this time. That is her goodbye gift to me.

We pass the fifth floor and I give her mine. I wrap my arms around her and hug her tightly. She gasps. She always does this whenever I give her what she calls my Papa Bear hugs. I am not sad, just resigned.

“Goodbye,” I whisper as we reach the ground floor and the elevator stops.

She stares at me with wide eyes. Does she regret her choice? Does she now wish she had not fallen in love with someone else?

No matter. There is no turning back for us.

The doors open and I walk into the empty lobby. I look back at her. She has slid down the wall and sits on the floor of the elevator, eyes still wide. Her white blouse is soaked with the red of the blood that seeps from her back.

I know the knife lodged deep between her shoulder blades has everything to do with that.

I turn away, and step out into the darkness.


  1. Wow those papa bear hugs really are something else, eh? I wasn't ready for that little twist.

    When I read 'male friends', it jarred a bit - the male character's voice was lost for a second and the writer poked through. I think you could do without the 'male' qualifier. Just 'friends' would be fine.

    A fine job. 'Slid down the wall' was a particularly good touch :)

  2. Anonymous8:42 AM

    tragic!! great story - gripped me.

  3. Thank you both for your thoughts on the story.

    Cascade Lily, I appreciate your suggestion, and I think that I will go back and change it!

  4. Great twist! Wonderful story...I enjoyed the demented little thing!

  5. Didn't see that coming. You did a great job of making the reader feel like your protagonist was pretty much resigned to the whole thing, then WHOOPS! Not so much!

    Great little story, and I liked the dark ending.

    Nice job!

  6. Wow. Just...Wow.

    Great read! I didn't see the twist!

  7. Now this is my kind of story, lol. We all know people like this, don't we? The quiet, well behaved ones who we are just waiting to snap. This is sort of tragic realism. :-) nice.

  8. Yes, we do. News interviews are always filled with neighbors scratching their heads over the "nice" person the "monster" next door always seemed to be.

    Thank you!

  9. Wow, not such a nice guy after all! Really liked how to kept the elevator imagery going at the start with the 'hitting the wrong buttons' line.

  10. I thought he was going to push her down the elevator shaft somehow. Stabbing during a hug???? You may have just ruined hugs for me...

    ... for the next....ten or fifteen minutes...

    Nice job.

    Karen :0)

  11. So great to meet you today Marisa, first at my story, and then here at yours this evening! I have now read your entire home page through after experiencing your storytelling talent through this first reading - fabulous. As Netta said, I did not see that coming at all, this was crafted so well.

    Relationships can be such messy affairs.

  12. I do so enjoy dark and twisted tales, so of course I loved this!
    I especially liked the parallelism of these two lines:

    "I turned away, and stepped out into the daylight."

    And then, "I turn away, and step out into the darkness."

    It's as though he's embraced the darkness within himself as well. And in such a cool, calm manner. It's quite creepy!

  13. This is a great piece. Taking what could have been just another slice of life story and turning it into so much more. I was able to pick up some deftly placed portents the second time around that seemed innocuous during the fist read, so well done.

  14. ok then. here i was thinking about what a sappy romantic you are. remind me not to fix you up with any of my pals..great dialogue and pace and super POW end.

  15. I thought this was going to end up being just a sad little slice of life story about the end of a relationship, but you surprised me. What a great twist. Excellent job, and excellent story!

  16. what a twist! I loved it :-)
    Great story

  17. Oh, good stuff. I was hoping and hoping he'd flip and not be such a doormat, and he didn't and he didn't and I'd finally believed he wouldn't, and then he did! By the end of it I was almost glad he'd done it! fabulous.

  18. Actually, Pippa, I was going to let him just be a "doormat", but he surprised even me! Didn't know he had it in him. Thank you for your comments!

    And, Michael, I think I am a sappy romantic! Just not then. Your friends are safe.

  19. Oh, I loved it. At first I thought, the twist is going to be that he shoots her when they get to the first floor, but it just keep getting more and more sentimental and heartbreaking. By the time I got to the poppa bear hug you had me convinced that it was a heartbreak story.

    Then he turned around and watched her sliding to the floor - Wham! What a great job of misdirection. I saw it coming, then you convinced me that it wasn't coming, then you delivered the goods. Very nice.

    And the writing throughout the piece was excellent.

    Welcome to the #fridayflash.

  20. Wow, that ending has a kick. Impressive how you turn an emotional moment into violence without tipping your hand until the very end. Great stuff and welcome to #fridayflash