I write fiction. Sort-of. This is still (3 years later) such a new concept to me that I don’t like to talk about it much. Writing fiction has never been on my radar. Now it is, and I have a few pieces that have nowhere to go. They don’t belong anywhere big or conspicuous. They are little ideas that traipsed through my fingers to a document. They are not my magnum opus – not even a mini opus. In truth they are probably closer to vignettes, but every time I need to type that word I want to type vinaigrette – which I have a horrible time spelling – so I’m generously dubbing them short stories. Flash fiction in this case. I’ll periodically post one on Friday because…well, alliteration and all…
“Criminals and Mothers”
He was an enabler. He knew it. But he couldn’t stand to see her so distraught and disheveled. It wasn’t like her. It wasn’t her. They had said for better or for worse, but if there was a way to make the worst just a bit better than he would do it.
It wasn’t like she had never hit the sauce before. A little here or there as the social occasion required for networking purposes. But she had always had the light stuff – kid stuff even. So she was using something a bit stronger now. Every day. She just needed something to take the edge off, to bring the pep back to her eyes, and a smile to her face.
The sleep-deprived nights and the isolation had nearly done her in – and nearly done him in watching it happen. When life got back to normal and the chaos calmed down, she could stop any time. Eventually her Pavlovian response to his return after his “errand” would die down. For now, the arrangement helped both of them through a tough spot. Everyone kept saying “It gets better.” Until it did, they were coping.
And so, at an unholy hour of the morning, when only criminals and mothers of infants are awake, he went to the place on the corner where he could get her a little something – just enough to get her through the morning.
“Did you get it?” she whispered as the door opened. She freed one hand and waved him over. Her fingers flexed back and forth with lust and urgency.
“Here’s your coffee,” he said. How quickly he had adapted to calling three shots of espresso in hot water “coffee.” When she had requested it six weeks ago he had carefully clarified the order. “Are you sure?”
“How many times were you up last night,” he asked.
“Three times. Maybe four. I don’t remember.” Her cheek had a glossy tear streak down the side like the smoke of a plummeting jet.
“He’s so cute when he sleeps.”