A Letter (Flash fiction)

She tossed the mail onto the dining room table. She rolled her fingers through his hair as she passed by. “Anything good?” Bob asked.

“A couple bills, more coupons,” she said. She filled a glass with water from the kitchen sink. “You got a letter.” She took a long drink while looking out the window. A breeze stirred the trees. “Looks like a girl’s handwriting.”

Bob turned from the computer and gave her a look. She didn’t look back. He stood and grabbed the stack. “Something’s wrong,” he said. “It doesn’t look right.” The envelope was beaten and worn. The handwriting, definitely feminine in quality, was almost faded beyond legibility. As far as Bob could tell, the letter had been rerouted dozens of times. He opened the note while his wife watched. He read it silently to himself.

“Bob –

I can’t stand to fight over this anymore, so I won’t. I’m going back to my mother’s and from there I don’t know. I didn’t want things to be like this. I never thought they would. I know you care about me and you want what’s best but the thought of going to that clinic just fills me with shame. I couldn’t live with myself if I did it. I could never look in the mirror again.

I know you’re against this, which is why I’m leaving. I’m not going to make you argue or decide. And the thought of you pushing me, persuading me, forcing me… it makes me not love you. So I’m leaving now, while I still love you and you still love me. I won’t tell you where I’m going. I don’t want you to take care of me, us. This isn’t your decision any longer. I know this will be hard, but I’ll find a way. Life always finds a way. I hope you’re not too angry. I hope you can understand. I just can’t do it. I won’t do it. Please go live your life. We’ll be fine.

Susanne”

He sat down in his chair. His wife glowered at him from the edge of the counter. “Anything I should know about?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. He felt as if the air had been stolen from his lungs. “It’s a bit of a surprise.”

She slapped her glass down. Bob was amazed it didn’t shatter in her hand. “Are there any other surprises that you expect to come along?”

Bob looked at the note. “I don’t know,” he said. He rubbed at his head as all of his assumptions were brought to an immediate end. “Maybe one.”

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