3 Replies to “6.13.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. She thought they were happy. Everything was new and bright and singing. Especially the mornings when she woke and he was there sleeping beside her and the light was breaking in through a gap in the curtains and each day seemed like the first, like unwrapping a boxed bought dress and the fabric is perfectly clean and uncrushed and you know it will look good on you.

    She let him sleep a while and watched him some mornings, watched his even breath and his face all slack and at peace. And so she thought they must be happy, that this is what happiness was. When they’d first met it was different with him: he carried the weight of the world around on his shoulders and his serious face was lined with the effort of that carrying. Seeing his sleeping face, she was sure he was changed.

    She crept out of bed and through to the stove. She made real coffee and let the smell of it leak through to where he was. And she heated cut cinnamon bagels in an old Sunbeam toaster that clicked and spat sparks. And when he came through, his hair all shocked and his eyes blinking against the sun and his words all soft-broken and muttered and he was smiling, then she saw he was changed.

    They kissed and held onto each other, as people do who have suffered some tragedy and have survived and are each day gald of it. At least that’s what she thought. Perhaps she was being fanciful. Didn’t he say to her once how she’d rescued him, how she had saved him from himself? She hadn’t really understood what he meant, not really.

    The days they had were now empty and long. They walked everywhere, even distances of miles. They walked together and were not parted and they walked for walking’s sake. She talked, enough for the both of them, telling him everything and making this day and tomorrow seem like their happiness could last. It’s what she wanted and she thought he wanted it too.

    But they weren’t happy; he wasn’t. Not completely happy. Not the kind of happiness that could stretch into forever. If there was just today and no tomorrow… but there was no point in thinking that way. What this was, he thought, was an interlude. It was a break from his real life and she was perfect.

    But at the back of his head was a nagging doubt: he did not deserve her. Also, he felt the guilt of doing nothing and just being. That was his father’s doing and he could hear his father’s voice telling him how a man would be measured at the last by the things he had done in his time here on this earth. And he knew he had things to do.

    ‘I could cook and wash and clean,’ she’d said. ‘And you could write and we’d want for nothing and that’s what happiness is.’

    But he couldn’t write, not with her there and everything so good and so perfect. And so he was not happy, not the sort of happy that could last. He wanted quiet sometimes. He wanted her to be quiet. Just long enough that the thoughts in his own head could be heard. And because she was not quiet but chirruping always like a too frisky yellow bird, so a small knotted crease of irritation was at his brow and in this way what they had, what she thought they had, began to unravel.

  2. The gunshot woke her.

    In her dream, she had been chasing him, laughing, through the woods behind their cottage. There were trillium in bloom, and dogwood, and the ferns were uncurling green spirals against the brown leaves, a still-damp winter carpet. He could run faster, his legs were long and his athlete’s body stronger than her soft, pink one. “Stop,” she was calling, “Stop! You’ve left without your lunch.” A silly thing to say, and he glanced back in anger and something else—fear, she thought.

    He ran even faster among the pale green trees, passing a deer, a coyote, a small brown bear. Behind him, she stumbled over logs, waded a stream, scrambled up its muddy banks. He turned and threw a rock at her—a rock! Could he not see her tears, hear her begging for him to stop, turn back to her, take her in his arms again?

    They had been so happy. If only he would wait for her now, help her carry the heavy bag that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and which she couldn’t put down: even though her arms hurt she had to bring it with her, run with it and she couldn’t catch up to him as he darted in and out of the shadows, translucent, dancing on air.

    “Stop,” she begged again. “Please. Wait for me,” and she stretched out her arms, almost touching him, almost pulling him down. But not quite.

    She was alone in their bed. It was the gunshot that woke her.

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