Somewhere in Nevada (Flash Fiction)

He was stunned when she said the words, but not through and through. Deep down, he knew. Those words were coming. It was when, not if. And though he did his best to show his surprise when she told him, he saw a glimmer in her eye that told him a tidbit as well. She knew just as well that this was coming, and she knew he was doing his part to pretend.

He pulled the car over, stopping somewhere in the vast stretch of the Nevada desert. Before them, a forgotten road wound through the desolate nothing and followed a teetering run of old power poles that led to only god knows where. He stopped the car to look at her, but she didn’t look back. She dug at her nails as if to clean them, but they were already very clean, pretty, glossy red.

Bob stepped out and leaned against the hood of his car to stare out across that endless open. The mountain range in the distance was dull and old and looked back with no regard for him. For millions of years it had slowly bled its own soil into the valley below, and no creature had ever bothered to be concerned for its pain. No god had taken time to intervene. For all the troubles Bob was attempting to assume upon himself, the old mountain told him that they were infinitely nothing.

After a few moments, Catherine joined Bob near the hood of the car. She had stopped fidgeting with her nails, and her dark red hair bloomed in the bright light of the sun. She looked to Bob now, and this time it was he who looked away.

“Well?” she asked. “Are you going to say anything?”

Bob toed at the worn asphalt of the road and gave a mild wonder as to where such a road could lead. It felt as empty as the road Catherine was suggesting they take. “What can I say? Your mind is made up?”

Catherine nodded. Her eyes, squinting from the sun, searched his. “It’d be nice to know if you plan on making this easy or hard.”

Bob guffawed and immediately regretted the reaction. He took a deep breath. “You want a divorce,” he said with a shrug. “I don’t know how that’s supposed to be an easy thing. I mean, I thought we were going to try and work on this.”

Catherine turned now, as if seeing the old road for the first time. Her eyes followed the meandering path of black until it disappeared into a shimmer stretching across the desert. The road that went to nowhere.

“This still isn’t working,” she finally said.

“So then that’s it?” Bob asked.

With her eyes still to the horizon, she cupped a hand over her brow to block the glaring light. “It’s either keep going or turn around. I don’t think either of us are going to end up where we want to be if we keep going.” She turned suddenly and looked him in the eyes. “Do you?”

The heat soaked into Bob’s dark shirt, and he felt the hot metal of the car seeping into his pants. The dead desert stood before them. Even then, with all they had known seemingly in ruin, he still found her beautiful. He wanted to tell her they still had a life together, that the troubles they had could be overcome, but he knew and she knew, and that dead old mountain that held the horizon knew as well.

It was then and there that their relationship finally ended, somewhere in Nevada.

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