How’s that for a title, huh? Okay – actually, this post is for the One Word Blog Carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley, the topic is Lust, and I’m cheating because I’m posting a short story by Brian Russell instead of writing my own. (Aren’t I clever?)
The crack in my windshield grows a little bit each day. It’s like the roots of a young sapling, sprawling to find water. I didn’t think it’d get this bad. It started with a chip, which started from a pebble. I swear if it were quiet enough, I’d hear it creak as the glass pulled apart.
I hate coming out here, but it’s what I do. My world is filled with watching people go in and out of buildings. Stores, restaurants, houses. In and out.
Oh, there’s the happy couple now. I fling my sunglasses into the passenger seat and pull the camera to my eye. These’ll be good.
She looks happy wearing a red pair of shoes she didn’t have before walking into the store, and he looks excited. His sunglasses were on before he came outside, and his jeans have strategically placed holes. She’s got a headband to match the shoes, I imagine, and khaki capris.
In each picture, they’re a freeze frame of perfect happiness. In each picture, they’re a snapshot of how her marriage should be.
In and out of stores, there’s sure to be a restaurant stop soon. Maybe then I can get some grub. I’m lucky my job doesn’t normally require me to drive fast. This windshield’s going to shatter someday soon. It’s only a matter of time.
This lady, I’ll call her Helen for her privacy sake, she probably just got bored. Bored with her housekeeping life, bored with her husband’s workaholism, bored with everything. But this new guy, he buys her gifts, takes her on dates. To Chili’s? She must’ve been pretty bored.
The people I watch mimic their actions. Popping in and out of these relationships. In and out of love. It’s amazing how quickly people can become shallow, empty hulls of the fruit, I’m sure, they once were.
A knock startles me. It’s a knock on my passenger window. I push the button and roll the window down a few inches. “Can I help you?”
His eyes are watery. It’s the client. I didn’t recognize him. “Stop. Just stop.”
I unlock the door. “Get in.”
“I can’t take it anymore.” He slumps in the seat. “She doesn’t deserve this.”
“What do you mean? She’s cheating on you.”
He sniffles. “I know. I’ve gotten the pictures. But, I realize now that I wasn’t providing for her.”
This is an interesting turn. It’s never happened to me before. “What are you going to do? Confront her?”
“No.” He straightens up in his chair, breathes in deep through his nose. “I’m going to go home, and do some laundry.” He sighs. “I’m going to earn her back.”
I set my camera down and stare at the client. He’s looking right back at me. “So, why the change of heart?” What else am I supposed to say?
He smirks. “First Corinthians. I’d heard it a million times, but seeing my wife with another man… it… The message used to go in one ear and out the other. You know?”
“Yeah, I get that.” In and out, people do it all the time.
“You might want to check it out too. It’s amazing what small things can have such a big impact.” His nose twitches as he gets out of the car.
The sprawling crack in my windshield creaks, I can’t hear it, but I see the glass splinter a bit more. All this damage from a pebble. “Yeah, I get that too.”
To read this story from the wife’s perspective plus more short stories from Brian C. Russell (and I would strongly encourage you to do so, and while you’re there tell him to write more), visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @Brian_Russell.