It’s Friday. I’m signing the Friday song. Had a killer workout at the gym last night. Swinging some seriously heavy kettlebells. My wife thought I was having a heart attack. I told her, “Go heavy or go home.” She said, “You aren’t a natural color.” I would have said something clever back, but I was too busy trying not to throw up.
That has to be a more pleasant way to get weakness out of your body.
I don’t usually do this. In fact, I think it’s the first time I’ve done it, but today’s flash story is a sequel. I stand by the original as a complete tale, but due to complaints about sad endings, I’ve decided to revisit it. This piece does not stand well on its own, so if you haven’t read, “What is it Then, Exactly?” it won’t make much sense.
Christopher knew his life was going to change as a result of the engagement, but not like this. He stood frozen as Izzy walked away -- ran, really -- and struggled to make sense of things. He'd thought she would be happy for him.
Instead, he'd lost her.
But Izzy wasn't Abigail and he wasn't engaged to Izzy and he didn't want to be. She would come around. That consoling thought was enough to free him from the momentary paralysis. He stopped in the house only briefly to say goodbye before taking his car back into town. Definitely didn’t want to be engaged. To Izzy.
Abigail (never Abby) handed him a green concoction when he got home. It looked thick, with chunks of something and smelled vile. "What's this?" he said, trying for a kiss.
She dodged artfully aside. "Spinach and ginger. You look peaked."
He felt peaked looking at it. "No ice cream hidden in there somewhere?"
She laughed at him. "We're having frozen yogurt with Cindy and Bill on Friday." Like he was an idiot for thinking ice cream on a Sunday afternoon was a good idea. She had a green mustache on her upper lip. Maybe it wasn't so bad.
But it was.
That evening was painful. He was confronted with the truth of Izzy's words at every corner. He'd gotten her message loud and clear – Abigail wasn’t right for him -- and had dismissed it. But his friend was right, Abigail didn't know him. She wasn't even trying to know him. She was trying to change him -- with the yoga 3 days a week and the clothes that made him look like a geek and -- but wasn't marriage about change and sacrifice?
Plus there where things they did together that he enjoyed very much. Izzy was just making him think about the negative. He wondered what she was doing, where she was.
"What are you thinking about with that faraway smile?" asked Abigail.
"I was thinking about home." he said. It was true enough. "You should come out this weekend."
She frowned at him. "You know I have a painting class Sunday morning."
"You could miss one." he said. "You haven't even met my Father yet, Abby." She set down her laptop and walked away. The bedroom door shut quietly. So quiet. So much worse than a slam. He went to her.
She was sprawled out on top of the bed with her back to the door. "I need to be alone now." she said.
"I am not going to spend the rest of my life calling you Abigail."
She spun to face him, furious and looking like a little girl. "You won't call me Abby."
"You've never told me why." he said, suddenly standing firm.
"Isn't it enough that I don't want you to?" she spat back. He considered that. Much of his life now consisted of things dictated by that one reason. It was not how he wanted to spend forever. Forever was about adventure, about exploration. It was about ice cream for breakfast on Tuesdays and being able to listen to the Cure with your soul mate.
Christopher took his jacket, 2 CDs, and the can of Coke he'd hidden in the back of the fridge. At the door he turned. Thought about saying goodbye.
At first he wandered aimlessly, the escape was such a surprise that he was somewhat overwhelmed. But his feet still knew what they were doing and found himself standing outside of a blue door on Leopold Street.
It had grown dark and the air was cooling off. What other explanation for his shaking could there be? He heard music from inside. Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am young again. The Cure.
Christopher nocked. It took a moment, but Isabel opened the door. Her eyes were puffy and she looked a mess. He had never thought her more beautiful and he was struck with a sudden, long ignored yearning. "What are you doing here?" she demanded. The music played on, However far away.
"Izzy..." he trailed off, unsure of what to say. His eyes locked with her’s. His voice trembling.
"What about your fiancé?" She was bitter. She was afraid to hope. However long I stay. Whatever words I say.
"Tell me I'm not too late." You make me feel like I am clean again.
Tears streamed down her face. I will always love you.
I will always love you.