Flash Fiction: When Freedom Finally Comes

“Sorry, Bill doesn’t live here anymore… No, I don’t know where he is now… I don’t plan on seeing him again, so it won’t do you any good to leave a message for him… that’s okay… no problem.”

She hangs up the phone and looks around her apartment. Her apartment. Finally hers for the first time in seven years. She inspects her bookshelf. Her books. Her mythology, metaphysics, science fiction. No more thriller novels, how-to books, political non-fiction… all his, all gone. She looks at her CD collection. Her David Sanborn, Enya, Kenny G, Jimi Hendrix, an assortment of Seventies and Eighties rock, blues, and R&B. No more Hank Williams Jr., Alabama, bluegrass and rap… all his… all gone. She walks into the kitchen. Her toaster. Her microwave. Her dishes and pans and crystal. Her herb rack. His wok, blender, juicer, and coffee pot… all gone.

She pours herself a glass of Glenfiddich. Her drink. No more Budweiser cans to clutter the trash. No more Marlboro Reds to clean out of the ash trays. No more… she spots his favorite mug. Still on the cabinet beside the stove. She picks it up, inspects it, turning it around and around in her hands… she remembers the night he brought it home.

Bill wanted to go into a cute little coffee shop down on the Market. They had dressed up to see a play, but she felt over-dressed for the coffee shop, so they stopped home to change first. She took too long, as usual, and Bill left without her. When he returned hours later, she was curled up on the sofa reading and ignored his entrance. He was drunk again. His usual escape when he was mad at her. In his hands was a mug from D’Angelo’s a bar down town, and his name had been etched into it. They had their usual fight, and he went to bed, snoring before his head hit the pillow… the mug tucked tightly under his arm.

He kept that mug close to him ever since. An excuse now to return to the apartment, she surmises. Turning it once more, she drops it into the trash can. No more mug. No more Bill.

She opens the refrigerator and pulls out a jar of salsa… hot. No more mild salsa for her. She grabs some chips and patters down the hall to the living room. No more television. No more wrestling. Serenity at last. She curls up on her sofa, opens the jar of salsa and eats it, dipping the chips right into the jar. No more bowls. She places her scotch on the table, letting it leave a ring if it wants to on the old coffee table. No more owl-shapped coasters. She picks up a copy of Omni and begins reading it. No more interruptions. No loud a-hems from across the room. She can read as long as she wants to.

After a few minutes, she places the jar of salsa on the coffee table, picks up her glass, swallows the rest of her scotch and lays the magazine on the sofa beside her. She glances around the living room, soaking in all the changes she has made in the three days since Bill moved out. A new fern, candles on the mantel piece, a large rocking chair in the corner of the room, a new stereo system. And then she notices the picture of her and Bill on vacation in Nantucket last year. She gets up, moves to the table it is resting upon and picks it up. She looks at it longingly. No more vacations in Nantucket. No more love-making in a hotel while people sleep in the next room. No more roses on her birthdays. No more Saturday morning breakfast-in-bed treats. No more rides on his Harley in the rain. No more Bill.

She drops the photograph on the floor, watches the shattering pieces through teary eyes. She returns to her couch, cradles a pillow in her arms and cries.

© 2013 Lori Carlson