Sample Saturday: “Lonely Man in a New Town”
Hi, everyone. This short story appears in my short fiction collection, Around the World in 80 Pages. Enjoy!
This is all her fault, he thought. He closed the door behind him and hung up his jacket. The only thing that greeted him was his quiet, perfect apartment. The plants were silent, as usual. No one but him and his quiet, perfect solitude.
Which was all her fault.
Oh, he had office friends on the new job, but none of them were like her. If only she’d been obedient when he told her how and what to believe and speak, why, they might be talking right now!
He turned on the radio, which was set to an easy listening station. He made and ate his solitary supper and tidied up after himself. Everything had to be in its place, all the time.
Her house hadn’t been like that. He’d spoken to her more than once about the unacceptable chaos, but she’d laughed and said she’d just come to his house if it bothered him that much.
How could she not understand a boundary that simple? Her home should always meet his standards. It wasn’t difficult to comprehend, was it? All she had to do was correct her flawed ways and thinking. Criminy.
She hadn’t listened, of course. He’d go pick her up for an outing and there’d be a cat or dog underfoot. She’d leave a project half-done, where anyone might see it, and laugh on her way out the door that it would be waiting for her when she got home.
How on earth could she live like that? Ridiculous. Anyone could see how wrong this was.
He’d broken things off after her ongoing refusal to reform her thoughts and actions.
“This relationship no longer meets my needs,” he had told her. He had used this particular phrase on many occasions and found that it suited him.
Then, most infuriatingly (just like so many of her predecessors), she had failed to promise to change!
“You did this to me once before,” she had said. “You will not do it to me again.”
How silly of her! Yes, he had done it before. Didn’t she know how lucky she was? He’d come to her and offered her a second chance. She was acting as though she were the one granting favors! Absurd. At least he didn’t have to hit her again. She made him do that, too.
He went outside and got in his car to go downtown. The first time he’d visited this place was with her. He’d decided to move there; he was sure that if he just lived in the right town, his life would change.
There was the restaurant where they dined al fresco. He’d thought her especially radiant on that day and told her so. He snapped her photo as they sat across from each other.
Of course, that was before she had the nerve to fall sick during his vacation. Her labored breathing and congestion had kept him awake. It was completely unbearable. He’d cut the vacation short; how on earth was he to sleep through that?
She’d said it was his choice. Well, obviously! He had driven, after all. When he said they were leaving, he’d meant it. She really should have been more considerate and remembered that he was a light sleeper. Rather unthoughtful, to say the least.
She hadn’t even apologized; she just asked to go to the drugstore on the way out of town.
And that was another thing: the drive home. She said the medication made her tired. Well, so what? He was driving, after all. She’d asked to stop at a particular place on the way back to get some grape drink she liked. It was her own fault he’d missed the turnoff; she should have been paying closer attention. It was her responsibility to remind him of where the turnoff was, even though they’d been there many times. He could not be expected to think of everything. And she was the one who wanted the grape drink, not him. It was her fault.
He always knew better , and always knew best. If she’d been able to accept that, everything would have been fine. But no. She wasn’t even smart enough to reach the right conclusions — the same one he had. So, he had left her — which was her own fault. Now he had to start again with meeting people and finding a partner. It was her fault he had to do that.
This was a whole new town. Surely the right person would be found here, waiting for him. Anyone could see what a catch he was.
And if not, he could always move again.
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Internationally published author Sharon E. Cathcart presents an eBook exclusive: Around the World in 80 Pages. These ten short stories represent genres ranging from Western to paranormal and provide the reader with a powerful literary experience.
Heart of Stone
No Eyes But Mine Shall See
Oh, Joy; Oh, Rapture
Betrayed by a Kiss
Counting Blessings Along the Horseshoe Canyon
A Cutting Observation
Ghost of a Chance
Gaul is Divided
The Scribe of Rashid
Lonely Man in a New Town