Margaret pulled her hand out of the water, allowing droplets to trickle out of her fingers. Wine glass after wine glass, the flow of the droplets grew to be more majestic as they collected into the bubble bath she had drawn to bathe in. Each drop seemed to carry its own story, but Margaret had grown too drunk to follow along.
She ran a small rag gently over her arms and her breasts, making sure to spread the suds evenly over her upper body. She delighted in her own touch. Feeling anything hadn’t come easy over the last few days. After five years, three apartments, a dog they had rescued together, the man she was going to marry had jumped ship.
He had said he no longer loved her. Or, maybe he never loved her? She couldn’t remember. The phrase’s sting was soft. She loved him, but hadn’t been in love with him for years. It was the whole breaking the routine thing and allowing him the upper hand that wasn't kosher. She was finally free like she wanted, but why did she feel so hollow?
Margaret snatched a wine glass from the edge of the tub and refilled it from the half empty bottle lying on the floor. The contents inside vibrated along with the breakup soundtrack booming from her iHome like a scene from Jurassic Park scripted by John Hughes.
She made a point to stick to hits from the early ‘00s and a few from the 90s. He wasn’t worth good music, frankly. She finished her first glass of red wine to “Mr. Brightside”, number two to “Since U Been Gone”, and shamefully wasted a third glass to Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”. Truthfully, she wanted to crank up the metal mix she had stored in her iPod for special occasions, but didn’t want to give the cheating asshole the satisfaction. He had given her the playlist, after all.
The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly With His Song” snuck into her playlist, oddly sending her down memory lane.
“I’m going to drive to Atlanta to clear my head. I’m going to stay with Drew, but I’ll be back in a week,” he had said. “I still love you, but I need to figure out if I want to marry you. Do you understand?”
Margaret hadn’t understood, but things had been rocky for weeks. She looked forward to catching up with a few of her girlfriends and grabbing some much needed space. It never occurred to her that he may not be telling the truth. The need for space outweighed the worry.
Financially dependent on each other since they moved in together, they had been at odds. It wasn’t something Margaret was proud of, but she always felt they needed each other to survive. It sucked, but helped override any desire to end the relationship. Hell, she thought, people fall in and out of love all of the time. They were just in the limbo stage.
He arrived back from Atlanta close to 10 PM a week later. She let it go that he had not called her once the entire time he was out of town, but her suspicions were sky high. “Did you have time to think about us?” She asked. She omitted the fact that she had not left the apartment for any reason in five days. She had no luck in arranging time for friends and her mind had been firing in several different directions. She didn’t think he deserved the satisfaction of possessing that knowledge.
“I was just going to grab something for dinner from the store. Did you want anything?” he mumbled.
Her voice was a little shaky, but she relished in the fact that she didn’t cry. She said, “No, I do not want anything. Answer the question—Did you have time to think about us? Are we on or off? If it’s off, you need to leave. Mind you, choose your worlds carefully. I own all of the furniture.”
He held her gaze for a few moments before succumbing to his cowardice. He had known he was leaving before he had left for his trip and definitely before he came back home. He picked up his suitcase, reached for the door, and walked out into the night. His final words: “I wasn’t in Atlanta.”
“The rest of my life starts tomorrow,” Margaret took another sip of wine and savored it, letting the swallow dry her tongue before gulping it down. “Here’s to new beginnings.”
***Third Place for Mutant 750 #36***
Thomas William Shaw is an author and stage actor from Birmingham, AL. He lives with his wife, Lauren, their children, and their cats in a quiet place. Occasionally he will post about it.