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Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Post

He makes sure he lowers his holler to gritty yell whenever I’m home. He doesn’t want a repeat of what happened last time.

My lunch: a cup of semi-cold water.
Activity: Procrastination with a plethora of blogging.

I told myself a month ago, and reminded myself last week, that I would study endlessly in preparation for this upcoming semester. Yet here I am, putting an end to studying before it even began.

It’s not entirely my fault, though. I can’t accomplish much when I’m home. My bedroom is about as private as a coffee shop, and my mother/second manager loves to put me to work, whether it be raking leaves or hanging sticky hooks on the bathroom wall.

That’s not all that distracts me.

My father returned home from dialysis not too long ago. He began his usual routine: a zombie-walk to his bedroom, the slamming of his car keys on the end-table, the grunts of woe and despair as he slips off his coat, etc etc. I hear him walk down the hall into the kitchen and slump into his seat at the table. He doesn’t want to be anywhere else. If he sits in the den, he’s forced to watch television, and that just takes too much effort. If he lays in bed, he’ll eventually have to climb back out, and that too takes too much effort. So he chooses the kitchen.

My mother, who also acts as his know-it-all nurse, manager, and mother, takes his gesture as his unspoken desire to eat. “You have to eat,” she reprimands. “You need energy!”

But my dad does not want to eat. It takes too much effort. Instead, he conjures what little willpower he has left and yells back, “I do NOT want to eat!”

It seems as if once couples grow older together, their arguments become centered around the dumbest and most unimportant things.

Thus, the yelling commences. Now, although the topic of their argument is dumb, I do not make the mistake of underestimating the furor behind the argument itself. Not too long ago, in the midst of an argument about whether or not my father was allowed to move his XBOX into the den, my father backed my mother into a corner and hit her. This resulted in a fist-fight between my father and myself, and a permanent scar on our relationship. Now, whenever they argue, I always prepare for the worst.

He doesn’t yell too loud, because he does not want me to hear. But my hearing’s just fine. If I saw his face now, his brow would be scrunched and his teeth would be grinding as his words bit the air. I can tell by his tone that things may escalate, so I put my socks on because I feel weaker barefoot. I feel more than I hear him pound his fist on the kitchen table. My mother takes this as a sign to give up, so she leaves the kitchen in a huff.

And then it’s over. The only time of my life that I was happy that all the build-up was anti-climactic.

I took my socks back off, and took another sip of my lunch.

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Separation

Some more of my older writing. Was a project for one of my creative writing classes. Reading it now, I see that there’s a lot wrong with it, but editing it feels weird. Best to just leave it as is, and let is serve as another reminder to keep writing. 

 

Separation by Brian Hughes

 

Their age was natural, but their stiffness was brought onto them by some outside force.

 

She sat up as straight as she could, although giving in so her spine could rest on the bench’s rimmed back. Her gloved hands were clasped in her lap. She stared straight ahead, distracted not by the rushing cars or the pigeons pecking at her feet. Her thoughts took her to a place of longing, for her shattered dreams anchored her to a place of remorse.

 

He sat up as straight as he could, although giving in so his arms hung close to his hips. His bare, dry hands were clenched, wisps of cool air escaping through the thin separations of the fingers. He stared straight ahead, distracted not by the frigid air that fought his earlobes or the heavy gray clouds that loomed overhead.  His thoughts took him to a place of desire, for his broken hopes suspended him above an abyss of regret.

 

Between them remained room for another to sit, and this is what killed them.

 

“We had our first date on this bench, Paul.”

“That was a date?”

“Sure was,” she smiled, her glare beginning to soar between the trees.

“I wish I knew that. Now that I think about it, I was so unprepared.”

“Unprepared? For what?”

“To be on a blind date with such a beautiful woman,” the man frowned.

“Aw, Paul, don’t beat yourself up. It’s been years now and I’m still sitting here with you, no?”

She inched closer to him.

“Debbie, is this where you pictured we would be, years after that first date of ours?”

Her smile faded. Her stare settled on one leaf that stood out from all the rest. It’s color was beginning to change, from the vibrant green to the thirsty orange.

“I think it’s kind of romantic to revisit the place of our first meeting.”

“That’s not what I mean, Deb.”

“Then what do you mean?”

“Our life, Debbie; our situation. Are you satisfied? Do we have what you pictured us having together after that first interaction on this bench?”

“Of course I’m happy, Paul,” she sighed as she inched closer to him. “I have you, and that’s all I need in this crazy world we live in.”

His eyes followed the cracks in the wall of the building that stood across the street from where they sat. No matter which path his eyes followed, his glare always ended up in the same place…the bottom. The desolate edge where the building met the sidewalk; where the immovable met the used.

“Paul,” Debbie sighed as she shortened the distance between them even more, “what’s bothering you?” Her eyes moved slowly from the dying leaf to the side of her husband’s face.

“The same thing that’s bothering you.”

“Paul, I’m happy. I’m fine.”

“You are a liar,” he seethed as his stare returned from limbo and met the empty glare of his wife. He raised himself off the bench slightly to move closer to her, closing the gap between them off completely. As he let his weight collapse back onto the park bench, he stretched his right arm around her shoulders. He brought his left hand towards her lap, gripping one of her gloved hands.

“For years, I’ve tried to make you happy. I bought you gifts. I took you to foreign countries and went on adventures with you that are almost unimaginable.”

“And I loved every single second of those years, Paul.”

“And when you weren’t feeling adventurous,” he continued, ignoring her subtle plea for naivety, “I agreed to settle down with you. I always gave you whatever you wanted.”

They sat silent for a moment. He turned his gaze from his wife back to the building, where he again began to follow the thin crevices in the brick. She turned to look for the orange leaf, which she now found resting on an overgrown root of its father tree, its stem grazing the dying grass.

“I always gave you what you wanted too, Paul.”

“Did you?!” Tears began to roll down his cheeks.

Her eyes settled on her husband’s tightening grip. Her blood ran thick and cold, unchanged by the warmth of her gloves or her lover’s hand. A single tear cascaded down her cheek, dancing between the wrinkles.

“I tried, Paul! It’s not my fault! Don’t you think I wanted the same thing?!”

“I wanted it more.”

“I didn’t have a choice, Paul! Don’t you understand? The doctors…”

“You may not have had a choice, Debbie,” Paul snarled, “but not having a choice doesn’t close the door to possible solutions. And I’m not talking about the doctors.”

“You wanted to adopt! I’m sorry, Paul, but I can’t just dedicate myself to something that doesn’t belong to me.”

“Are you speaking of an adopted child, or our love as a whole?”

Debbie was taken back. She didn’t know how to answer Paul. Her reddened eyes escaped to the orange leaf, which she followed closely as it quickly floated from its parent tree to a small sewer grate that hugged the sidewalk closest to them. The thirsty being became wedged in one of the holes of the grate, fighting to free itself. However, with every gust of wind, every heavy sigh of Mother Nature herself, the leaf became more helpless.

“I’ve completely dedicated myself to you, Debbie, from the very beginning. I thought you would do the same. But you didn’t.”

Paul separated himself from his wife, zippered his long coat up to his chin, and moved back to the end of the bench, recreating the void between his wife and himself.

“However, it’s too late not to love you. But just know that with that love I carry an immense bundle of hate for you. I hate you Debbie, for you couldn’t provide me with what I desired most.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks more fluently now. Her lips trembled in sync with the corners of the orange leaf.

“You were always great, Debbie, but you were never enough. Never perfect.”

“No,” Debbie heavily exhaled as she watched the dying leaf plummet into the dark sewer…forever lost in the darkness of what has been and what could have been.

 

***

 

“Those cracks…those small chasms that populate the face of that old building are humorous. You see em’ Deb? You want to know why they are humorous? Because no matter where they spread or what plants grow or die around them, they all meet back at the same place; right at the bottom, there. Right back at the beginning. You see it, Deb? Kind of like us.”

“Like…us,” Debbie quietly gasped as she tried to fight back the tears.

“Like us.”