Saturday Story: The Morning After

This story was longlisted at Furious Fiction for November – you can see the qualifications for entry. It’s a challenge to try to include the various things they suggest, and might be a fun challenge in a writing class as well, bringing attention to the writing in a new way.

The Morning After

He pulled the leather one from under the bed and began grabbing fistfuls of his shirts from the closet, stuffing the clothes in hangers and all. He was crushing his beloved dress shirts, and at least one hanger snapped. They clacked against one another, so loud, but still quieter than his furious silence.

“I saw her across a crowded room,” he’d once said, grinning and winking at me, as he told the astonishing story of how we met to another group of new friends. Then he would go on to regale them with his other adventures, having already won them over with his charm. I should have known then that his conquests were also of the amorous type.

He was meticulous and loving, sweet and patient, so I fell for his lines, hook and sink included. We even went on several of those adventures he was always talking about. I realized some dreams I didn’t know I had: swimming with dolphins, spinning in zero gravity, building huts for orphans. The rush of being with him and doing these unbelievable things was heady.

Then we’d throw a party, inviting locals to have a drink with us. He’d describe how I was uncharacteristically dancing on a restaurant table, on a bachelorette party dare, and how he knew that even though I was uncomfortable, I was made for this audacious type of living. Seeing that joie de vivre, he said, he climbed up and danced with me. They’d raise their glasses, I would blush, and I’d fall for him all over again.

Then he disappointed me, with his go go go style, his lack of respect for what I wanted, his instability, his infidelity. At least he was consistent; it was always because he wanted to try something new, or someone different.

That was why I never told him what I really wanted, and which he never knew he gave me: my own stability. At the next party, I raised my glass but never took a sip. He draped an arm around my shoulder and kissed me, passionately, but he didn’t notice, busy weaving fantasy and reality together into a compelling tale.

When he hustled us tickets to Borneo, I finally said no. His jaw actually dropped. I was sure I would faint in my false bravery, or perhaps due to morning sickness, but I didn’t. Instead, I watched him pack the way he did everything else: spontaneously, daringly, and with no thought of the consequences.

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