First bit of free-writing I've done in a while. Inspired by a prompt a friend offered me. "Use this somewhere in your first paragraph: "curiosity and anxiety overwhelmed, I had to check the underside of my shoe.""
It had been two days and he still refused to accept it.
Bright and early Saturday morning, as he had every other Saturday morning as far back as he could remember, he rose, slipping his feet haphazardly into a pair of sneakers, and made his way groggily into the kitchen. He rubbed his eyes as he turned the coffee pot on.
He leaned against the counter for a while, attempting to rouse himself from the depths of semi-consciousness, and fought off the sleep that threatened to overtake him where he stood.
Peeling apart his fatigued eyelids, he looked around the spacious kitchen for some remnant. Some forgotten relic he could set on the fireplace and look upon fondly. One last memento. A conversation piece, the lead in to all their anecdotes and trials.
One thing, just one.
The kitchen was mostly empty. The cabinets left open as they’d been when he returned home from work two nights ago. Dishes sat in the sink and he struggled to remember the last time he had eaten. He didn’t look at the cup rack when he lifted his mug from it. He didn’t need to see what was missing to know it was missing.
His cup now full of hot coffee, he navigated around the small island to the sliding glass door across the way. An unfamiliar, disturbing, sound came from the floor, promptly followed by a soft, wet pop. He paused, hesitating, his cup of coffee halfway to his lips. He could just walk on, he thought, but curiosity and a small wave of anxiety overwhelmed him; he had to check the underside of his shoe.
Lifting up his foot cautiously, his heart dropped into the pit of his stomach. Glancing up, certain he had not seen the fishbowl, he found it sitting on the counter, empty but for the water nearly filling it. He sighed, unsure if it was misery or anger that swelled inside of his ribs.
He set his coffee on the ground and lifted the tiny corpse from the floor. Glimmering in the early morning light, the sunburst orange goldfish hung between his index finger and thumb, lifeless and slack.
Staring at the dead fish, he realized it was anger.
Anger at the hand he’d been dealt. Fury toward the heartbreak that lingered and throbbed beneath his lungs. A burning, ceaseless rage that gobbled him up in large, silent bites. His footsteps echoed through the apartment; each thud shaking the floor beneath him, quivering up through the soles of his sneakers. He yanked the sliding door open with all of his strength and it hit the frame with a booming crack.
The glass spiderwebbed from the bottom left corner up, stretching all the way to the handle. He didn’t pause.
Out on the porch, with the ocean breeze whipping at his loose pants and unkempt hair, he wanted to leap from the railing. He wanted to lunge himself over the barrier and let himself tumble in the air until he met with the ground. Or to thrust himself off the ledge and, as in so many of his dreams, take flight.
Instead of any of those things, he launched the dead fish into the nothingness beyond his deck. The fiery body caught the sunlight and held in the breeze, defying gravity, for one, two, three heartbeats, before it went plummeting out of his vision.
His heartbeat was thunderous inside of him; he could feel the dissipating reverberations of it in the tips of his fingers, beneath his kneecaps, under his ears. There had been so much he hadn’t let himself see, for so long he wasn’t sure there had ever been a day he hadn’t blinded himself to some small part of reality.
The tides slammed violently against the shore and for a breif moment he didn’t feel alone. Somewhere, something felt his pain. Something. Tectonic plates, fallen oaks, wrecked ships, shattered mirrors, fire-ravaged fields. The pain, the loss, was all the same, and he felt each in the very core of his body. His bone marrow ached with the overwhelming sorrow and wretchedness of the world around him.
He had lost her, and all she had left behind was dead and gone now. Dead and gone and irreplacable. His life, their love.
Gone in the blink of an eye. Vanished like so much smoke in the sea air.