For this week’s prompt, write a story that demonstrates why story is important.
A One Way Story
He heard her heels clicking towards him before she entered the room.
Her perfume tickled his nose and he felt the need to sneeze, but it wouldn’t come.
A chair scratched the linoleum surface, as she pulled it back to sit across from him.
“Sorry it’s been so long since my last visit. Things have just been so hectic at home that I haven’t had a spare moment to myself.”
The water sloshed round in the jug as she poured herself a glass, and she smacked her lips together after she took a swig.
“Ah, that’s better.”
Her skirts rustled as she crossed her legs, and the chair squeaked as she leaned back.
“I wish you could see the kids, Henry. They miss you so much, but we both know this is no place to bring children.”
She sighed heavily, as if the weight of the world rested on her shoulders.
“Jaime thinks you’re on a business trip somewhere. It’s easier to lie to him; he still young enough that he believes everything I say. Hell, he still believes in Santa Clause.”
His heart constricted at the thought that he may not be able to play Santa for his son this Christmas. He wondered who would fill the role. He wanted Jaime to believe in Santa. He wanted Jaime to stay young and innocent as long as possible.
“Stephanie is not so easy to fool. Terrible twos? Try terrible teens! She has this crackpot idea that you and I have split up, and I chased you away. Can you believe that? She blames me for your absence! It took all my strength not to tell her the truth, to tell her what you did. You can thank me for that later.”
He cringed at her words. She may as well tell them, because they would find out eventually, and there was no need for the children to be mad at both of them.
“I wish you had thought about the children before you got yourself stuck in here. I could kill Jimmy, I really could.
“I don’t know how I am going to manage without you. If only they would give a definite time when you’ll be coming home.“
He had nothing to say to her. No reassurances, no promises, nothing.
After a short silence, she pressed on to what she had really come here to tell him.
“Stephanie’s been sneaking out at night. But, we both know she’s no ballerina, and she wakes me up each time she tries to sneak past my room, stomping like an elephant.
“I followed her the other night, and do you know where she went? A nightclub! Can you believe it? She’s not even sixteen, and she’s getting into nightclubs! I wanted to slap that sleazy bouncer for letting her in, and the lewd looks he shot her way.”
She took a break from her monologue to shiver theatrically from head to toe.
“I followed her in, and just stuck to the shadowy corners as I watched her. I felt like a spy.”
He wanted to laugh, but knew he couldn’t. She had been a spy, and he could only imagine his daughter’s reaction if she had seen her mother in the same nightclub, stalking her.
“She has a boyfriend you know. He’s older than her, much older. He pulled her into a booth, and they started… well they started doing stuff.”
He felt his heart start to race, and his hands pleaded with him to find this older man and wring his neck.
“I couldn’t stay hidden in the shadows. I stormed over and pulled her off him. The man disappeared as soon as I intervened. I bet he knew she was underage.
“She went ballistic, screaming obscenities at me, some of which I didn’t even understand. I couldn’t calm her down at all, because she’d had so much to drink.
“I had to get a bouncer involved, and tell them she was underage. Of course that just made it harder to calm her down. They dragged her kicking and screaming from the premises, and she was furious with me for branding her as underage at her favourite hang out.
“She locked herself in her room for days, I couldn’t speak to her other than through her door, and the only response I got were unsavoury to say the least.”
She was sobbing, a tremble making its way into her voice as she told him the story.
He wanted to reach out and grab her hand, to tell her that Stephanie was a teenager, and that teenagers went out and got themselves into trouble, and that it was a time honoured tradition to hate your parents at that age.
He wanted to tell her not to worry about it.
“Oh, Henry. I didn’t know how to tell you, but I guess I just have to blurt it out.”
He felt his pulse go into a higher gear, and knew nothing good could come next.
Alarms went off, and the room was suddenly filled with people.
“Mrs Finley, you need to leave, now.”
“Why, what’s wrong with him?”
“He’s going into cardiac arrest. The doctor needs you to clear the room.”
“You said if we induced a coma he would get better!”
“The coma helps his brain heal, but his heart is another matter. Please, Mrs Finley, come outside with me, and let the doctor work.”
He heard her heels clicking away from him, but the smell of her perfume remained.
He felt the shock flood through him as the paddles touched his skin, and he wondered if this was it.
He wished for the umpteenth time, that he had stayed home that fateful night.
He wished that he had never gotten involved with Jimmy’s back handed business.
But, mostly, he wished for a second chance, as he felt heat leach out of him and the dark creep in around him.