Exercising the craft—March 21, 2016

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: He watched, helpless, as the door closed behind her…



He watched, helpless, as the door closed behind her.

His heart lurched, the force pushing his right foot forward. Before his left could follow he clenched his fists. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t. Go. After. Her.

Everything had fallen apart. Their plans. Their futures. Their love. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

What a load of crap, he thought. “Meant to be” only worked in the movies. Disney had built an entire empire on the concept. It had nothing to do with real life.

He took a few steps back until his legs bumped into the oversized chair in the small family room. She’d bugged him to buy some more furniture. They’d squeezed into the chair at the store and laughed when someone asked them if they were newlyweds.

“Not yet,” she’d said with a grin and a pink flush in her cheeks. “Almost.”

The elderly woman smiled and nodded at the couple. The knowing look she gave them had made them laugh even harder. He made a naughty comment, and the pink flush in her cheeks deepened. He knew at that moment that he would buy the chair and anything else she wanted.

She’d looked so beautiful with her cheeks so pink.

They disagreed on the color of the fabric. The level of their disagreement surprised both of them, they admitted later. It seemed like such a small thing. A color, after all. But somehow it had developed into something more.

When they worked it all out and compromised by picking a third color altogether, they’d laughed again but a little nervously. Neither of them wanted to say aloud what they both thought in the privacy of their inner selves. If the color of a chair could cause so much friction, what would the larger issues married couples faced do to them?

He sank into the plush chair and leaned forward, his forearms on his legs, head hanging. The fabric fight gave them a segue, a natural entry point to the topics they each deemed important. They talked. For hours. For days. They worked through so many things, and they felt confident they could work through anything else their future brought them.

But this…

His chest burned as he realized something. They hadn’t disagreed at all. In fact they were in total agreement. This was a deal breaker for both of them.

The burning pushed into his throat, choking him and making his breath hitch. He swallowed hard. The burning dimmed a touch, only to come back later in his eyes. Tears slipped out of the corners and landed with soft plops on his jeans. A few of them made it past his legs and onto the rug under the chair.

They’d picked out the rug too.

His tears picked up momentum, and he pushed the heels of his hands into his face. That didn’t help; the saltiness still seeped down his wrists. His eyebrows began to hurt, and he realized he was pressing too hard. Pulling his hands away left behind the impression of the pain on the bone. It throbbed.

She was gone. He had to accept it. He wanted, with every cell of his body, for her to come back. But she wouldn’t. And even if she did, he wouldn’t let her in the door. He couldn’t. There was no longer any room for their relationship. There were too many shards of their broken hearts in the way.