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Rated: E · Short Story · Emotional · #2270704
Claire ponders starting over at the close of another lonely day.
Why did I rush home from work? Claire wondered as she dropped her workout bag next to the front door. The silence of the small house rang in her ears, broken only by the tick of the mantle clock in the den inching toward seven thirty.

“What an exciting Friday night,” she mumbled as she pulled the leftover beef stroganoff from the fridge and popped it in the microwave. She’d been fine at work, around the chattering of her coworkers talking about their evening and weekend plans. She’d done alright with the sparse crowds at the gym in her yoga class after work. It was now, coming home, that caused the loneliness to gnaw in the pit of her soul.

Maybe I should get a pet. She’d had birds when she was a kid. They required a lot of cleaning, but they were constant companions, cheerful, and excellent company. It would be a reason to come home on time, and something to talk to.

A captive audience.

There wasn’t anybody here to argue with about responsibility or care anymore. She was free to do whatever she wanted.

“Some freedom,” Claire said as she pulled the bowl from the microwave. She retrieved a spoon, pulled her water bottle next to the window, and stood staring over the small back yard. She spotted her newly widowed neighbor puttering around in the yard, pulling weeds from the plants that her husband planted prior to his death to cancer a few weeks ago. The neighbor looked up and waved. Claire half-heartedly waved back, her spoon still in her hand.

“At least I’m not alone,” she mumbled as she shoved a spoonful of beef stroganoff in her mouth. She might as well be alone. She was still standing here, in the house, while her neighbor puttered in the yard. Yet Claire didn’t go out. I’m a mess from work and going to the gym. I need a shower.

You need motivation. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something!

Claire sighed at the unbidden thought. It wasn’t wrong; she just didn’t feel like dealing with it. She decided she was more tired than lonely. She stood in the darkening kitchen, silently eating as she watched sunset fell over the small, quiet neighborhood. No family bustling about. No rushing to get ready to go out with friends. Just – her.

The streetlights flickered on. The neighbor looked up at them, sighed, and slowly walked back into her house. Claire rinsed her now-empty bowl and put it in the dishwasher next to her cereal bowl from this morning. No need to run it this weekend. It would keep until next week. She stood and looked back at the sunset falling over her.

Maybe I’ll talk to the neighbor tomorrow, or go to the pet store, she thought. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take my first step into a “new start.”

The kitchen fell into darkness as she walked out, grabbed her gym bag, and headed to the bathroom. She’d sleep on it. Tonight, flicking on the bathroom light illuminated nothing new. Maybe tomorrow would bring the answers that every other day had evaded so far.

Word Count: 525
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