This Flash-Fiction story is a little longer, but I think you’ll really enjoy it! Have fun reading, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
She said it was over; that it was too late. What’s been done is done, and the consequence is losing her; she said it so blatantly over the phone. I never wanted any of this. I wanted to love her the way we promised in our vowels. The way we said we would forever. The day we separated was the same day she came back from the doctors’. She left me a note:
I can’t do this anymore. It isn’t fair for either of us. We clearly walk different paths in life. You always follow your path, and I have my own path, yet I scuttle behind you, following wherever you go. You never know how much time you’ll have left in life, and sometimes you have to find your way. I know that’s difficult to understand and accept, but you’ll have to be strong, just as I have, for many years.
How could I understand a note like this, and think that everything will be fine. Pretend? I never understood. I guess I always assumed she cheated on me, and that’s why she left.
We hadn’t seen each other since the letter, and I presumed that we would see each other one last time before we signed the papers, and I could talk her out of signing. Instead, I got a document in the mail: our divorce papers. It was covered in pink tabs that indicated signature and initials. The date was March 23rd 2001; we were now divorced.
It had been a few years and I was still broken up about the divorce. I never wanted it, and so it wasn’t easy living without her. I tried my best to live a happy life: go to work everyday, watch hours of TV, read many books, try to go out every other weekend, and maybe even a vacation or two. Things were good but not great; some days were hard but not horrible. I kind of just went through the days as I could. I thought about her frequently, but I never heard from her. I was always curious about how she was, or how she was doing, but I never got any updates.
It was an average day like any other. There was nothing-special going on in my life, but I thought about her this day more than most other days. All I wanted to know was how she was; what has she done for the past two years. I wasn’t trying to be a nuisance; I just wanted to talk, maybe even a small ambiguous explanation.
I kept in-touch with my ex-wife’s sister; I knew her before I met my wife and she actually brought us together. I never brought up a single word about my wife when talking to her sister. I would just kindly check in on her to see how she was doing, but this day I checked in a little early. I called her: A Wednesday I believe it was; which was odd because I only called her once a month and it usually landed on a Saturday. The phone rang awhile and so I assumed she wouldn’t pick up, but at the presumed last ring, she caught the last echoing ring and said, “Hello?”
“Hello, Jane, I was just calling to say, hi.” I was a little nervous because I knew she would see through my bullshit.
“Hey, um, I’m doing good, everyone is good.” She didn’t say anything else. She just listened through the static and waited for me to explain myself.
“Everything is good?” I answered myself. “That’s good. That’s good.”
“What’s wrong? This isn’t like you to call randomly.”
“I know, I’m just…” I inhaled deeply, letting out a gust of breath. “I just want to know how she’s doing; I haven’t heard from her in two years.”
“She’s been waiting for you for two years.” I listened and didn’t talk. “I need you to come over here, okay?”
“Um, sure, of course, I’ll be right over.” I wasn’t sure what to think; I mean, she left me, and she made that clear. Why would she be waiting for me? I didn’t quite understand, but whatever she was talking about, I guess I would soon understand.
I got there quickly, and I thought that I would meet her. I didn’t know what to say, or how I should start, but I went to the door: I knocked. My ex-sister in-law opened the door and didn’t say much; she kept me outside. She stood on the front porch with me: it was old looking, splintery wood that wasn’t suitable for barefoot crossing, the porch light that was out, and the mosquitos were retched.
She spoke, “I don’t have answers to your question. I don’t have everything you’ve been looking for. All I have is a note, okay? You need to take this note, follow everything she says, and all your questions will be answered, alright?” She just stared at me with a plain face. “Okay!”
“Alright, I guess.” It was even more confusing than the phone call. “But, where is she?”
“I told you; I don’t have any answers for you. This is all I have. Take it and follow it.” She slammed the door behind her, and She didn’t say another word.
I didn’t open the letter until I went back home; I couldn’t open it, the last note she wrote me was a demanding, without explanation, divorce. She could say whatever she wanted; she could tell me that she wishes for me to die. I thought of too many different ways she could make my life worse with this note, but I opened the note:
My dearest husband,
Wow, I know, it’s been some time, and I know I never explained myself clearly, or at all. But, I just couldn’t say what I wanted, to your face; some things are better written than said. I wasn’t out to hurt you, or destroy us. I wasn’t ready to divorce you for the reasons I chose, and I want to relieve you by saying, I didn’t cheat on you. It wasn’t another man, it wasn’t that I was done with the marriage, but it’s been something of a longing dream. I know you don’t understand, but I hope that you will by time you finish my last few notes. I need you to do something for me, and I know that’s a lot to ask for, especially after leaving you, but if you received this note then I’m sure you are up for it. I want you go to France. Paris, to be exact, and go to the Eiffel Tower: Go into the gift shop and look at the comment board. It’s a place where you can leave your name inside the Tower. There should be another note at the top right corner; read it, and tell me if you remember me.
P.S. until we meet in the city of love, au revoir.
I really didn’t understand why she wanted me to go to the Eiffel Tower. What could be there, Her, maybe? I wasn’t sure if I was going to travel around the world to see another note. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I went back to work the next day, my boss called me into his office. He said, “You have three weeks of vacation time. This is too much. Either you take it now, or you lose all of it.”
I didn’t understand what was going on with the world. I didn’t have three weeks worth of vacation time. It couldn’t be. I took vacations, but what was I going to do for three weeks. The only vacation that came to mind was, France. I couldn’t believe it; I was going to France to see a stupid note. I bought the earliest ticket I could find. I would leave tomorrow, and hopefully I would find my answers.
I rose from my sleep as the alarm clock went off intensely. I have always been, somewhat, a nervous flyer; not from the thought of being thousands of feet in the air, but because I always thought I would miss my flight. I got to the international airline about three hours early. I didn’t know why but I thought they would take me early, as though it was an appointment. I sat and waited; I didn’t do much of anything, what’s there to do at an airport.
The static voice came over the intercom, “Flight 231 to France is now boarding.” I got up and stretched my legs for the last time, before a non-stop 12-hour flight was before me. I boarded the plan and the whole ride was a blur: heavy sounds, ears exploding, uncomfortable sleep, and smell the followed the entire ride to France.
I was a plan ride that took me straight to Paris, France. I grabbed the two bags, which I held the entire ride, and went off to read this note. I wasn’t on vacation even though I was forced. I was on a mission. I left the airport and took a cab to the main city were you could the Eiffel Tower for miles. I told the cab driver, “Ei-ff-le To-w-er. Do you understand?” I was waving my arms and playing a game of universal charades.
He stared at me and replied, “You want me to take you to the Eiffel Tower or improv-class?” Not even a single strand of an accent held him, except his thick New Yorker accent. He chuckled and continued, “I’m from the Bronx, guy. I’ll take you there.”
He dropped me off in front the Eiffel Tower. If we were any closer to it I would’ve thought he was parking to come with me. I paid him and stepped out of the cab. I went to Eiffel Tower, but I wasn’t mesmerized like the other million tourists around me. I wanted to get to the gift shop and retrieve the note. All I wanted was answers. I didn’t care about this worthless shit. I stepped into the gift shop and looked at every wall, and there it was, on the back wall of the gift shop: the names, but most importantly, the letter.
I grabbed the letter from the wall that was pinned up by a tack. I opened it and read:
My wonderful husband,
If you read this letter then I now that you have been more true to me than you have our entire marriage. I brought you here because I need to show you that I never had my questions answered either. You never did answer me. I have left you thinking for two years that you never had your questions answered. Now, you can see that my questions were never answered. I didn’t leave you because I didn’t want to spend time with you. I left to show you that you never spent time with me. Look around you; what do you see? It’s quite beautiful, isn’t it? Go outside the gift shop. Feel the sun soak into your skin, let the wind flow through you, and most importantly, look up at that Tower. Does it make you think of anything? Maybe, the time you promised me a summer in Paris? But, instead we stayed home and wasted our vacation at home. My answers are answered now. You never had time for me; I loved you, but you were too much about yourself. If this letter made you think about me, then, good. If you aren’t mad then I need you to go to one last place; I need you to go to the cemetery by our old house. I have one last answer for you.
P.S. I wish I could have spent my time with you in the city of love.
I was amazed. I never listened to a single word she said. I never thought I would have been the problem. I was so beyond myself that I forgot that she was the most important, but none of that matter anymore because the moment I was to see her I was going to make things right. I was going to win her back, no matter what it took. She was going to be a queen, and I would make sure she knew it.
I got on the next plane home, and didn’t notice the smells that followed the plane, the uncomfortable sleep wasn’t evident, and the sounds were gone. I was focused on her. I was ready to go win her back. The plane landed after the twelve hours. I got off the plane and took a cab; I said to the cab driver, “I need to get to Paradise cemetery, Honey Street and 30 Avenue. The cab ride from the airport to cemetery felt longer than the plane ride. I didn’t know what to say to her. I wasn’t sure what I could do to get her back. I wandered if she was going to just telling me off or was she going to wait for me to apologize. I didn’t care, and I was ready to do anything.
I was finally at the cemetery and I paid my cab fair, and went running for the iron gates that secured the cemetery. The security guard stopped me where I was and said, “Who are you here for?”
I said, “I am meeting someone here.”
“Their name?” He looked at me.
“Sarah Causeway.” I looked at him as he stared back.
“Okay, follow me. I will take you right to her.”
“Thank you.” I followed behind him and he started to take on the form of an escort rather than a security guard. We walked pass a million tombstones and not a single sight of her was anywhere. She wasn’t there I presumed.
The escort stopped in his tracks and said, “Okay, Sarah Causeway is right here. This letter was left for a Mr. Leo Causeway. I assume that is you?” He stared at me and was negligent to hand me the letter.
I replied, “Yes, that’s me.” I grabbed the letter from his hand, and he scuttled away slowly and softly. I couldn’t hear his steps. I stared at the tombstone that read, “Sarah Causeway, 1972 – 2002. The Explorer.”
I opened the letter and there it read:
My loving husband,
Thank you for following me and making my dream come true. I am sorry that I didn’t get to go with you to Paris. There was so much going on, that I believed that we would never go. The day I came back from the doctors’ he said that I had cancer and that it was spreading rapidly. He estimated that I would only live another year, and that treatment really wasn’t an option. I thought about what you’d think and I couldn’t bear to have you watch me take my last breath. The Doctor said one last thing, that really spoke to me, “If you want to do any traveling, then now’s the time to do it. Go see the places you’ve always dreamt of. I’m not mad that you never took me to Paris. I just knew that I had to go, and I always knew that you loved me. That’s why I left the letters; I knew you would follow. I love you dearly; don’t ever forget that.
Your wife to always be
P.S. I never submitted the divorce papers. We were always married, I could never leave you that way, and until we meet in the clouds.
If only I treated her, the way she deserved, I would have had her last wishes granted. What have done?
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