A Walk (Flash Fiction)

Bob walked slowly down the gravel lane. His hands were buried deep into the pockets of his tweed coat. A wet fog pressed against him as it rolled over the sloping hill. The gravel crunched beneath his feet, and when Bob stopped, all he heard was the falling drops of condensation. He was smothered in a world of dim white, of gray light. He looked at the dead pegs of wood that served as posts for a barbed wire fence. The wood was rotten through and through. Bob wondered if he could pull one of the posts from the soggy ground and take its place. He was also rotten, through and through.

He pressed on down the lane.

Bob thought of Susanne and her tears and the devastation in her ruined voice. He found it hard to imagine that she would ever sing again. Not that her voice was so ruined, through and through, but that she sounded so awful. It was difficult to hear the beauty in her again. Much like the broken stones under his stepping feet, once it’s heard, it’s rarely unheard.

In the fog that passed in front of him, thinning in places and then thickening again, he saw her blood-shot eyes filled with pain and failing composition. That had come before she started shrieking. Those eyes had come as his words descended down upon her heart and took root there like rot. Took root to ruin her, through and through, with rot. As he sank his words full of painful claws into her heart, the blood flowed into her eyes. As she shrieked and begged him to stop, his words pressed on.

“I have been unfaithful,” he said, “for I am filled with rot.” She shook her head in disagreeable denial. “I’ve slept with her again. Again and again and again.”

The gray fog brightened and threatened full light. Bob squinted. His head hurt from the shrieking he had endured. He paused, trading crunching gravel for water falling on soggy ground, and looked back down the lane that arched over the low hill. He caught a glimpse of a building back there, of a second story window that overlooked the driveway. There stood the dead post of a woman looking out of it, looking down the lane.

Bob pressed on through the fog. He would return tomorrow and tell Susanne a story that was the same. And she would take him in because her eyes were red and her voice was ruined and she was thoroughly filled with rot.

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