Love Triangle – Flash fiction

love-triangle

(Image Credit: Russell Lee)

He sipped her coffee to make sure it wasn’t too hot before setting it next to the toast he’d quartered for her.

She smiled love at him through hazy eyes as he sat beside her.

He helped her hold the cup steady while she raised it to her lips.

“Oh Dean, no one could love me like you do,” she told him in her scratchy voice.

He nodded a little and helped her set the cup down.

She batted her eyes. “And no one could love you like I do. Wanna know a secret? If something ever happened to you, I would never love again.”

He pursed his lips.

“No one could ever fill your shoes, my darling Dean! You’re the only one for me. Ever.”

He acknowledged her sweet smile for a second before helping her hand holding the toast find her mouth. He had his own aches and pains, but seeing her like this hurt more than all of them.

“So don’t you ever leave me. If you ever did, I’d be alone forever.”

“There’d always be people who care for you,” he reassured her, “people who love you dearly.”

“Maybe. But in here,” she tapped her chest with a fragile finger, “I’d be alone. I’d always be alone without my Dean.”

He didn’t bother to remind her anymore. It was no use. He let her failing mind live in its ancient paradise with its long-lost first love.

Their confusing wedding photos were locked away. Pictures of their children were images of Dean’s children to her, but at least they were still her children, when she recognized them.

After 42 years, Brian let himself be memories of Dean, lifting the loneliness from her heart and holding it in his own.

Together they raised the cup to her lips.

Heart of the Family – Flash fiction

broken-heart

Jesse brought a little picture of himself, in case looking at him would somehow make them feel closer to their own son.

They were a typical middle-aged couple. Anne, the mother gave Jesse a hug. The father, Rob, shook his hand.  After the handshake lunch turned awkward.

He’d practiced how he would express himself, but in person it was all different. How do you say this kind of thank you? What’s the right mixture of your renewal with their loss?

Jesse forced out an unbalanced thank you. They nodded their acceptance. The conversation was choppy, never allowed to go too deep.

Rob wouldn’t look him in the eye. When Rob went to the men’s room for the second time, Jesse frowned.

“It’s been hard on him,” Ann explained.

Jesse nodded. “I can only imagine.”

“On both of us. Robby was our only child.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Rob and Robby were two peas in a pod. He lived through that boy. Since the accident, well, there’s a big hole in him.”

“I wish he’d let me tell him how sorry I am,” Jesse replied, “how grateful . . .”

“But he won’t look at you,” Ann interrupted. “It’s not because he resents you. He’s afraid.”

“Of my face?”

“Your face terrifies him. Part of him is afraid he’ll see Robby in your eyes. The rest of him is afraid he won’t.”

Jesse called the waiter and gave him cash to cover the bill. He stood, taking Anne’s hand. “Will you tell Rob I had to go? Tell him I’ll always do my best to honor Robby’s memory.”

He let go her hand and turned away, leaving his haunting self-portrait in his wallet and taking the heart of their family away, beneath the vertical scar in his chest.

***

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