Assignment: Write about a loss: something or someone that was part of your life and isn’t any more. What is important is reflecting on the experience and what it meant for you – how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it. Today’s assignment is the first time I want to try my hand at fiction, as I had promised myself I would, and I am quite nervous.
John woke up early; the sky was just barely pale pink and grey in the east over the mountains. Usually he loved being up with the sunrise, and he often took his camera with him on his early morning run. He had entered some photos in a contest in the town newspaper and won $25.00 last year, so he was encouraged to focus his lens on whatever was beautiful or unusual. It’s so much easier these days, with digital cameras.
Today, though, he is in no mood for the camera and in no shape for a run.
He has only slept a couple of hours. Restless, empty, angry, he is frightened. What will happen now?
Sarah and their 3 year old Annie had left last night, after another huge argument, and he doesn’t know where they are. She just left, while he was in the bathroom losing his dinner. She took her car and some clothes for both of them and just…left. He had frantically run out of the house as he heard the car leave the driveway, but he was too late to stop her. Then he called all her friends even though it was after midnight to see if anyone knew where she was. No one did, or no one was telling. “She probably went to Karen’s or to Arni and Tom’s,” he had thought, but when he drove past their houses, her car wasn’t there.
Finally he had come home and fallen asleep on the couch with another beer.
Sure, he’d been drinking and maybe he DID get a little loud, “But that’s no reason to leave, is it,” he thinks, as he paces restlessly from room to room. “Is she gone for good?” “I love her.” “I’m sorry. How can I tell her I’m sorry?” “Oh, God, what can I do?” She isn’t answering her cell phone. He opens Facebook to see if he can pick up any clues as to where she is. Nothing. He calls in sick, he can’t think of anything else but Sarah and Annie, and how to find them and bring them back. Besides, there is a big wide hole in his belly. He feels like someone kicked him, and so he really is sick, he tells himself. He just can’t face a bus load of yammering teenagers today.
Hot, big self-righteous tears stream down his rugged face as he walks into Annie’s room. Usually she lights up his mornings with hugs and laughter. He likes to show her the photos he took on his run, and he always has breakfast with her while Sarah gets ready for work. Today it is …so quiet. “How can she do this to me?” “It’s not like I hit her or anything.” He wants to throw things now. He wants to punch out some walls now. He wants to yell and scream his anger and loneliness at the top of his lungs now.
He does none of those things. He just paces. He doesn’t know what to do with himself.
He had never thought anything like this would happen, not to them.
He texts her. Again. No answer. He calls some of her friends. Again. No one can tell him anything. He drives past the bank where she works but doesn’t see her car, and Annie is not playing with the other kids in the yard at daycare. The weather’s nice and the kids usually have snacks outside and use up some energy on the swings and slides.
Angry, frightened, he asks himself, “Where is she?” “She can’t just leave like this.” Then, “Of course she will be back,” he thinks, “I’m her ‘Studley’ and she loves me.”
Once more, he texts her. Still, no answer. Somehow he will get through this day. Other people do.
He takes a beer out of the fridge and turns on the TV.
Everything had changed in their lives the year before, when he had been laid off his well-paid construction job. He felt like such a loser, driving a school bus a few hours a day for a pittance, but it was all he could find. Money has been very tight and they started fighting about everything. They might even might lose their home, and he had been drinking more, he admits it. “But it’s not like I can’t stop. It just helps me get through the day. ” “And now this,” he thinks, as he gets up and turns off the TV. “Morning TV is for chicks. Nothing on.”
He crushes the can, throws it across the room to the trash can. Missed.
He resumes pacing…