From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome to another issue of Larks Fiction. Sorry about the late post. We have been extra busy here at the office. Please enjoy this fine helping of indie literature!
Daniel J. Pool
Breaking The Cycle
By Alan Hlad
Trisha adjusted the mirror in the foyer, the one that always seemed to hang cockeyed, and finally decided to walk through the door. She buttoned her coat and took a deep breath. The cold air smelled fresh, despite a thick layer of leaves decaying in the yard. Looking back at the house, she recalled how her day began. And how another weight was added to their out of balance marriage, tipping the scale over for the last time.
It had been like many other mornings. She had been sitting alone at the table, reading a book, and sipping lukewarm tea, when she heard the creak of his footsteps coming down the stairs. He had stayed up late working and hadn’t made the effort to come to bed, instead choosing to sleep on the leather sofa in the study. It had become a habit. And she had gotten used to having the bed to herself.
Obsessed with making money, Damon spent excessive hours at the office. The only time he wanted to be around her, it seemed, was when he wanted sex. He would often come home late from work, the sour smell of malt scotch on his breath, and announce he wanted to go upstairs. There was no how was your day, honey?...you look pretty, sweetheart… or even I missed you, darling. It was just let’s go upstairs, as nonchalant as ordering a cheeseburger and fries from a drive-through window. Considering there was never any foreplay, going upstairs usually lasted all of five minutes, and that was if he even made the effort to take off his pants. Afterwards, he would roll off her and leave. No words, no cuddling, just the sound of him doing up his zipper and the study door closing behind him. She always relented to his requests, praying to God that someday their love would be rekindled, and that he would return to the man he once was, or had pretended to be, before she had said the words…I do.
She buried her intuition, replacing it with affirmations of lies she repeated to herself…he will change someday…he will change someday…he will change someday. But deep down, she knew the truth.
Damon went straight to the refrigerator. He rummaged inside, popped a can of Red Bull, and gulped it down where he stood.
“My doctor appointment is this week,” she said.
He tossed the empty can into the garbage. Opening the pantry, he stuffed his hand into a box and pulled out a fistful of cereal, not bothering to get a bowl.
“They’re going to run some tests to find out why I’m not getting pregnant.”
“You’re too damn uptight,” he barked around a mouthful of cereal. He overtly ignored the wet piece that flew from his mouth and landed on the floor.
She bit her tongue, trying to avoid another argument. Staring into her tea, she saw the reflection of a woman she no longer recognized. “Will you come with me? I don’t want to go alone.”
“I’m busy. Somebody needs to make the money around here.”
“What if they can’t find what’s wrong?”
“I’m not the problem. There’s no way I’m shooting blanks.” He smirked and went upstairs to shower.
She felt like she was going to vomit. Closing her eyes, she envisioned herself on a runaway train, headed down a track towards certain tragedy. There was no suppressing her reality any longer. She had made a huge mistake.
Trisha glanced one last time at the white house with the picket fence that was to be their fairytale castle. Her dream to live happily ever after had become a nightmare. Her heart pounded. Butterflies swirled in her stomach. Carrying her suitcase filled with childhood photos and a few changes of clothes, she gathered her courage and opened the taxi door. She got in and sat down with her luggage on her lap.
“Where to?” the taxi driver said, his dark eyes peering at her from the rearview mirror.
Trisha fiddled with the handle, her hands shaking. She noticed the familiar smell of pine coming from an air freshener stuck to the dashboard. “Drive.”
The driver nodded and pulled away.
She watched her house disappear, then slumped back in the seat and closed her eyes. A warm tear slid down her cheek. She made no effort to wipe it away.
An hour later, the taxi stopped, its brakes screeching like nails on a chalkboard. She paid the driver and got out. Walking up the steps, she opened the door, and adjusted the mirror hanging cockeyed. She carried her suitcase up the stairs, feeling as if it were filled with lead, and unpacked.
The card to the taxi service was still in her hand, its edges worn, but she held the names of each of her drivers in her head. She slipped the card into her wallet, knowing she would retrieve it again in a few weeks, and again a few weeks after that, like a perpetual lunar cycle, only to drive as far as the city limits and turn around. And each time she would convince herself the pine-scented air inside the taxi caused chronic reconsideration, or limbo. One, or the other.
She felt an invisible ankle bracelet scraping her skin raw, as if she were an inmate on house arrest. But there was nothing there, only a stubborn voice whispering lies in her ear. He’ll change.
About the Author;
Alan Hlad’s work has appeared in The National Underwriter, Claims Magazine, and Property Casualty 360. He is an insurance executive in Akron, Ohio, a frequent conference speaker, and a member of the Akron Writers’ Group. He is currently working on a novel.