Too Far Gone (Flash Fiction)

Bob stood in the kitchen and stretched the elastic band of his boxers. They were getting tighter. It seemed like they were always getting tighter. He paraded himself into the living room, rubbing at his belly as he swung his hips.

“I can see your reflection in the television,” his wife said.

Bob stopped with one foot on carpet and the other still on cold tile. She gave her book a quick turn of the page. He looked at her legs dangling from the side of the recliner. She wore a white t-shirt and blue boxers, both his, or at least they used to be. She had claimed them quite eagerly many years ago. He gave the curve of her foot a quick tickle.

“Stop,” she said.

Bob stepped back and sat himself on the couch. He picked up the remote and then pushed it away. The room was silent. No sports game blaring, no music rolling in the background, no laughter, no shouts, no more pitter-patter of little feet. She was wearing her old glasses again, the ones with the cute red frames from back when they were dating. God, how long ago had that been?

She turned another page that seemed to cut at the air between them.

“How’s the book?” he asked.

Her eyes flicked up over the frames and the edge of the page. Bob held his stare, refusing to look away. She huffed at a loose bang and returned to her distant world. Bob looked around their well-furnished living room and wondered what it was that it so sorely lacked. He fiddled at the remote control again and caught sight of his ring.

“Why are we still doing this?” he asked.

“Doing what?” she said with a glare.

He looked at her again and saw beauty heavily layered with pain. He felt his real sadness for the first time, unfiltered by the silence. Thousands of apologies for millions of things done wrong flashed into his mind and were gone again. His words failed him.

“Why are we still together?” he said.

His wife placed her mark, closed her book, and went upstairs to bed.

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