by Maria Mize
Micro-fiction -- first sentence (bolded) prompt for a creative writing assignment/contest.
OBLIVIOUS TO RADAR
The sensation was subtle, like crossing the equator at night in a ship. Jim and Julie signed the Agreement, the Judge executed the Final Decree and hammered the gavel. It was over.
After walking separately for so long, Julie succumbed to the obvious.
Even dating was sporadic. As time moved on, though Jim stayed over, he never completely moved in. What was missing? Julie couldn't put a finger on it.
After a few years, Jim moved in but kept his apartment. Julie asked, “What are you holding onto?”
When he finally turned loose of the apartment, it was Julie's turn to be nervous. Do I really want him here?
After a bit of hesitation and wavering on both sides, Jim and Julie married. For Julie, this solidified the relationship, yet changing her name, alarmed Jim.
“Don’t do it.”
“But... why not?” asked Julie.
“If you take my name, I’ll be responsible for you.”
Julie wondered, If a man marries a woman, does he not want her to be his? She let it go, keeping the surname of her former husband. They were married, living in shadows. Reality was illusive.
Time passed, and Jim often walked alone --- gone for hours, returning happy. He was cheating; yet he twisted things, convincing Julie it was her fault. No apology, no remorse. As time passed, the strain was hard to ignore.
Then Julie came home to a woman's voice on the recorder --- giddy, confiding plans for the evening. Harsh words were exchanged, and Jim left for two days.
On a Friday evening in November, they set out for a walk. Jim forged ahead. When Julie picked up her pace, he lagged behind. Was he playing mind games?
Julie asked, “Are we walking together or what?”
“You’re imagining things... again.”
Julie crossed the street and went home. Jim arrived hours later. It wasn’t discussed.
They went dancing and Julie’s timing was always off. Too fast or too slow, Jim criticized. Exasperated and frozen, she left the floor. Contrariwise Jim danced with another, smiling with pleasure, without complaint.
Whenever they watched television, Jim controlled the remote.
The time came when Julie finally asked him to move. They set a date at the end of February. Living separately was better. Jim visited, but something was still missing.
Julie shared her decision; Jim agreed to stop calling. Papers were drawn up, and he paid his share of the costs.
Enemy ships pass in the night oblivious to radar, like it never happened.