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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1646716
This Writer's Cramp entry is about a guy who feels trapped in his relationship.
1000 Words

It’s not often that I get out of bed when the morning DJ yaps at me through my clock radio.  I usually don’t get up when my cell phone chimes either.  I’m a snooze alarm guy, and waking up is a 30 to 40 minute process almost everyday.  But today was different. 

Sara and I had another dustup last night and I vowed to change my ways this morning.  Not for her, though I wouldn’t tell her that.  The fact is I’ve been meaning to address some of her concerns on my own for some time.  I just haven’t gotten around to it.  It’s not that I like clothes thrown all over the bedroom or months of mail stacked up in the dining room.  That’s if you can call it a dining room at all.  It’s really just part of the living room in our one-bedroom apartment.  It’s just that I don’t have any time, and when I do I’m spending it with Sara. 

I’ve also been meaning to take out the recycling and put my skis in storage, but it’s an ordeal.  If I’m going to put the skis away, the storage unit really needs to be reorganized.  There was so much recycling that it would take two trips and if I didn’t want to take my shoes off between them I would track snow and dirt onto the carpeting.  Still, I figured if I could do it right when I got home from work it would be gone before Sara got home and the kitchen would look better.  That might have gotten me through the evening if I got the dishes done before work.

“Hey Baby, don’t forget we’re meeting Danny and Joanne for dinner tonight.”

Great.  Guess we’ll both come back to a kitchen full of empty beer bottles and cereal boxes.  At least I can still get the dishes done before I leave for work.

“Hey Baby.  I don’t think you have much gas left in your car.  When I was driving home last night the light went on.”

Was she kidding?  She knows I have a meeting every Wednesday morning.  I resigned myself to her waking up to a sink full of dishes and getting on my case for blowing off our talk from last night.

I ran back to the bedroom to give her a kiss.  “Bye Honey.  I’ve got to run if I’m going to get gas on my way in.  I’ll see you at dinner.”

I didn’t have to look at my phone when it vibrated.  It was a text message from Sara.  “Don’t worry about the dishes.  I’ll do them.  Have a great day.” 

Without the “I’ll do them,” I might have actually believed her.  I sat in traffic wondering what to do.  Three and a half years and we were still arguing about the same stuff.  I could never make her happy.  The house was always too messy; I wasn’t around enough; we never hung out with her friends; I wasn’t nice enough to her family; I was always too tired to do what she wanted to do.  Excuse me for not wanting to get up at 7:00 on Saturdays after working 60-hour weeks and taking classes online.

I was totally fried.  What about my friends? Heaven forbid I should see them without her, and she always wanted to have date nights when I wasn’t working.  I loved her, but I couldn’t take it anymore.  I knew she felt it too.  I’m surprised she still wanted date nights.  We never got along, and it wasn’t like the dates ended the way you would expect for two people who wanted to be together.  I cherished girls’ nights out because I would be asleep before she came home and get a break from the pendulum of bickering and awkward silences. 

Lately she’d been talking differently about other guys.  That, or she’d tell me all about her friends’ relationships.  Sometimes I just wished something would happen to break us up.  I didn’t want to pull the trigger, but I’m not sure who I was protecting.  I loved her but didn’t want to date anymore.  I was too independent, and I couldn’t be who she wanted me to be.  She said she loved me and I believed it, but that faith was waning.  I wanted her to be happy, but I knew I couldn’t do it.

Dinner was fine.  We could always pretend for an audience.  We just kept the conversation on the other side of the table and cracked jokes with Danny and Joanne.  Besides, a bottle of wine and linguini with white clam sauce has a way of bringing people together.  As our waiter cleared our plates, I stepped outside to clear my head.  I said I was going to the bathroom but I went outside to use my phone.  I had nobody to call so I ran through my saved voicemails to make it look like I was busy. 

I could see the three of them through the window.  Then, a fourth person approached the table.  I recognized the guy as Joanne’s high school friend, Mike.  I used to watch him play basketball for Duke before I met him.  Now he was a pediatrician.  Sara and Mike had always gotten along well, but I never thought much of it because I trusted her and was secure in our relationship.  Suddenly I saw them differently.  As he stood next to her she smiled up at him and clung to his words.  Of course, I couldn’t hear them, but I didn’t have to.  As I stared through the window, pathetically pretending to make a phone call, I saw a twinkle in her eye that had been missing for months.  I realized what was taking place.  Without being the bad guy, I was about to regain the independence I had coveted for so long.  The decision was being made for me.  The “love of my life” was “slipping away” before my eyes.  Mission Accomplished. 

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