(A short story about the meandering paths of a relationship.)
The yellow haze hanging in the air always bothered me.
My teenage son drove the red Mustang speeding south past the imposing statue of Sam Houston that loomed in the near distance off highway 45. As we approached the Woodlands Mall, I looked out from the backseat and noticed the dirty sky.
The songs the children and I sang earlier that day, keeping time with the music from the CD player, dried up when we left Dallas, replaced by an empty sensation that squirmed like a worm inside my chest and grew to the size of a viper at the exit to the apartment I rented in advance from an online site.
It resembled the dust storms from childhood in West Texas that filled the air and left piles of grit lying on the window sills. But I never knew if the sky that day really turned yellow or my mind played tricks on me.
There aren’t any dust storms in East Central Texas.
Now I sit alone and stare at nothing from the couch that Mike bought just because I wanted it.
So different from telling me what he thought I wanted to hear.
Two images flash in juxtaposition across my mind. Four days after Mike and I married, I would leave on a jet plane and end up the next day on the tiny Aleutian Island of Adak, Alaska for a one year tour of duty. But the night before, we sat in the front seat of the blue Regal miserable to the dulcet strains of “We’ll never have to say goodbye again.”
After checking my luggage at Intercontinental, we snuggled in a restaurant lounge talking about our brief honeymoon in a hotel on Corpus Christi beach overlooking the silver-gray waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Oh what a night.
And the spectacular house we wanted to build someday in Colorado. I clutched the ticket that would take me away while Mike gently held me, my tear-streaked-face dampening his big shoulder.
Later, walking toward the boarding gate I stopped to wave one last goodbye before taking the triple-leg flight from Houston to Seattle to Anchorage to Adak. I turned to see Mike standing a short distance back.
Tears glistened in his eyes.
I wanted to run and comfort him, but the boarding call had gone out and I couldn’t miss this flight. So I smiled sweetly and blew him a kiss instead.
The navy frowns heavily on deserters.
The second image, synchronized with the first, had Mike standing alone in the front yard beside the moving van that held all mine and the children’s belongings. Except for what we carried in our suitcases stuffed inside the red car’s trunk.
I never wanted to move from Texas to Pennsylvania in the first place.
And to clinch the deal breaker, we had spent the last six months with just me and the kids shoveling snow layered waist deep to my 5’ 2” frame and sliding between ice walls that jutted toward foggy skies on either side of the gravel driveway.
Because I told him to leave since he stopped listening to me when I made him feel that he couldn’t do anything right after he did that thing that crushed my heart so long ago–even though he told me he was sorry.
A terrible realization slams into my conscience. The day I drove away from the chocolate three-story chalet as fast as I safely could on the PA two-lane residential I hadn’t looked back to wave goodbye.
Or see if Mike had tears glistening in his eyes.
In the Mustang, my daughter’s cheerful voice chirped from the passenger front seat, sounding garish and out-of-place in its sweetness. “Mom, we’re home!” she sang out.
A knot clenched in my throat. Hot tears, quickly blinked back, burned as I replied, “Are we really?” All the while, I remember, the tainted sky hurt my eyes.
He used to call me his queen. I wonder if he could ever feel this way again.
Copyright 2012 by Ledia Runnels
- The Retreat at The Woodlands Now Open for Leasing (mysanantonio.com)
- Waves, Wings & Wildlife: It’s Winter in Corpus Christi (prweb.com)
- Rukia from the Anime “Bleach” (lediarunnels27221912.wordpress.com)
- Going Nowhere Fast (creativemusingsoflediar.com)