Tom Harrington's flash about an embattled husband and his dog.
What shape was that last batch of codeine I got? He wondered. Oval, he remembered - or was that the statins, or the niacin? His fingers touched on a familiar form and he propped himself up on his right elbow. Bolts of pain streaked down his arm. He yelled and almost missed when he flipped the pill into his mouth. He took a quick gulp of water, then collapsed on his back. I could choke doing this, he thought. Next time I'll dose up before dozing off.
Maybe I should take a Viagra too, he laughed, half asleep. He felt the space next to him on the bed wondering what his chances would be. Not even warm - he reached a little farther - it was a big bed and sometimes she liked to lie near the edge with his dog Roxy. Nothing out there either - empty. He was in bed alone, without her soft nakedness next to him. Not even his dog had stayed close. Had they left together?
Where was she? Oh yeah, she'd moved back to her place a few blocks away when her remodel was done. His house was no longer the nearby inn of convenience. His charms would have to stand on their own to bring her around, and he knew they could be elusive. But that wasn't all. She'd said something about "not being in love anymore." His heart began to ache. Codeine had dulled the pain in his shoulder, but it was no help with raw emotions.
Last year she'd asked him to let go and love her. He showed up and paid attention. They began over again, primed to avoid heartbreak. But something broke anyway.
Now he felt himself sliding into that place he'd vowed never to revisit - the morass where love gets dismembered. He longed for the detachment he once felt; a time when he could languish in sweet romantic fantasies whirled like cotton candy, without commitment or a future. Right now there was just a precipice at the hellhole of regrets, forensics of romance. Still half asleep, he sweated in peril of waking up to find this nightmare was true.
Morning lit the bedroom without joy until he watched Roxy stretch herself awake. He was grateful she'd stayed with him. He donned the truth of the separation nightmare on his way to the kitchen, but refused to succumb to malicious regrets that raced across his mind like comets in search of a place to crash inside him. Breakfast and kitchen chores stanched the tide of sadness for a while, then he felt Roxy's tail wag against his leg, and she eyed him with expectation. Her enthusiasm was contagious and he knew the ocean would soothe his splintered nerves and clear the cobwebs. As soon as he uttered the word "beach," Roxy tore off across the hardwood for the door and out into the sunshine they went.
Larry assumed that he was being jettisoned back to his solitary life for good cause. But the third mile along the ocean convinced him that he'd been attentive and kind during these last few months. Mistakes, of course - but game enders - no way. There must be other culprits in this mystery. By the time they were back home, his chatter had convinced Roxy and himself that things could be better this way. Her sympathetic canine stare from the kitchen doorway made him think she understood. But not one to linger in sentiment, she nudged his leg to get him to open the refrigerator for homemade roast chicken dog treats. Today, she got an extra share for the therapy.
Then he saw the vase of lilies and lavender sitting on the counter. Beneath it was a note with her impeccable artful handwriting on linen paper. "Dearest Larry -"