Another flash fiction brought to you by Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds. The challenge this week was simple: bring up Pandora or iTunes on shuffle. Whatever song comes up is the title of your story. I was a bit apprehensive, due to all the dance fitness songs I have of my iTunes (ex. Moves Like Jagger, What does the Fox Say, Work B*tch, etc.). Luckily, I got View From Heaven by Yellowcard.
So in a 1,000 words or less, I give you:
The night Arlene’s trip to the convenience store ended with a gunshot to the face, the only comfort she found in the desolate darkness was the answer to the ‘what if’.
“What if I die?” Arlene had asked her husband Shaun. “What would you do?”
They had been in bed at the time, and Shaun had rolled on top of her, kissing her freckled nose. “I thought we agreed to die together,” he said, his voice too deep to ever achieve soft pillow talk.
She had kissed him back, placing her hand on his dark cheek. “But if fate has other plans?”
“Like I said,” he kisses her with solemn eyes, “I thought we agreed to die together.”
So many ‘what ifs’ they had explored. So many futures they had mapped out. His words that night had given her such love and peace. But now, with her drowning soul, Arlene grips the words in desperation and suffocation.
Here in the black, every ashamed moment and thought of her life constantly consumes her. Her lies whip and slash her raw flesh, the next lash always more painful that the last. Times she had done the easy thing instead of the right breaks her back, the weight crushing her bones. And most horribly, her betrayals burn her from below, with flames licking higher and higher for every tear she had ever caused.
After eons or minutes, Arlene suddenly disappears from the abyss to find herself standing behind Shaun, his soul somehow calling her back. He is in the doorway of their home, looking at two officers.
“Arlene is dead?” Shaun whispers, his face, normally so strong, so full of life, ashen and empty.
Arlene sobs, and reaches toward him, so badly wanting him to be with her. But the moment her fingers touch his skin, he shudders and the scene blinks.
Now, she’s alone with Shaun in their bedroom. Tears are dripping down his face, his hair is bunched up and frazzled, and he’s holding the pillow from her side of the bed. She walks in front and kneels before him, crying with him, careful not to touch him.
“I need you Shaun,” she chokes out. “We’re in this together, remember?”
For an instant, Shaun seems to be able to hear her. Her chest thumps, when she sees his gaze drop to the pill bottle on the night stand. His hand shakes as he reaches for it, but he suddenly stops. Before she can move away, he stands up quickly and steps into her, blinking the room away.
Shaun is at work, sitting in the break-room with his best friend Cale. His hair has grown long enough for thin plaits and his eyes are guilty.
“It’s like she still there,” Shaun whispers. “Like she’s waiting for me.”
“She’d want you to move on,” Cale says. A deep hatred erupts within her, and she instinctively lashes out at Cale, noticing him fly back in his chair with a startled expression before she blinks away once again.
It’s their restaurant – the one right off the country highway that they visit every year during the summer. Shaun is sitting alone. The braids are gone. He has just paid for the check and stands up to look at the window. When she sees him smile at the sunset before he turns to leave, Arlene panics.
When he gets to the car and searches his pocket for the car keys, Arlene steps as close as she can without touching him. “Why are you still here?” she asks desperately.
But he has found his keys, and is about to get in and drive. And she knows that once he gets in, he’s leaving her behind. He’s moving forward. He’s going to leave her alone in the darkness.
She doesn’t think as she grabs hold of his shoulders, pushing him out into the highway. And instead of the scene blinking, it’s Shaun, for it’s the last thing he does before a truck crashes into him.
Arlene freezes then runs to him. When she gets to his body, she is able to see the last drop of life leave his body. Arlene shakes violently, but smiles. She won’t be alone anymore.
She screams as light appears, blinding and purifying, one that exposes every trial and tribulation that she has withstood by herself. Her eyes burn as she looks forward, and sees Shaun. But not just Shaun as he was. Shaun as he was meant to be. Beautiful. Pure.
Suddenly, Arlene is on her knees, sobbing and quavering because she knows where he is going, she cannot follow. And she is dying all over again because she loves him so much and all she ever wanted was to be with him.
“Shaun,” her frail and broken body cries. “I’m so… so… sorry.”
And for one moment in her bleak after existence, she finds peace. Shaun has wrapped his glorious arms around her, and his tears drip down on her marred face. “I forgive you,” he whispers in her ear.
Her chest is breaking apart but she is doing everything she can to grab the man who is no longer just her husband, but the embodiment of everything she can never have. “I just… I just…”
“I know,” he says, and his voice is broken too. The light around him is becoming brighter causing his shape and weight to disappear. She’s gasping and sobbing and trying to hold on to what is left, but all he leaves is a whisper.
“I love you.”
The light shoots upwards as she drops back into the abyss. When she lands, she is broken. Bleeding. Numb. But she keeps her eyes open, staring at the disappearing light until finally it stills. Arlene keeps waiting for the spec of light to disappear, but it never does. She stares up at Shaun, knowing he is staring back.
“I love you too,” her voice cracks in the black.