By Ai Shahar
Turning off the road and into the driveway, Andy slowed the car to a stop, set the parking brake. Pulling the key back, he pulled it from the ignition, listened as the engine purred slowly and faded away into silence.
Opening the car door, Andy walked across the lawn and up the steps of the front porch, to the front door. Flipping through his keys, he stuck it in the lock. Opening the door, he stepped inside.
Setting the keys in the little basket next to the door, Andy took off his coat, hung it up on the coat rack. Walking down the hallway, he went up the stairs and headed straight for the bedroom. He was tired, and the thought of his bed seemed like something right out of a dream.
Once inside, however, Andy saw the bed was occupied. Nancy – his wife – had set her suitcase right at the spot he always slept. Peeking her head out from the closet, she smiled.
“Well, you’re home early.”
Andy nodded. “So are you…”
“Actually, I’m on my lunch break. I won’t be long. I’ve got a meeting soon, then yet another overnight stay at the office.”
Walking across the room and to the bed, Andy found an unoccupied space, sat down.
“Before you get too comfortable, could I ask you a favor?”
Andy turned, observed his wife’s packing ritual. “What kind of favor?”
“Nothing much. I just need you to go to the grocery store and pick up a toothbrush. Actually, pick up some toothpaste and lady’s deodorant while you’re at it. You can never be too prepared.”
Andy laughed. “Ladies deodorant, huh? That should prove pleasantly awkward when I reach the check-out aisle.”
“Or, maybe they’ll just think you’re just a nice guy who did a favor for his wife, picking up her hygienics. It’s true, after all.”
“Well, I suppose there’s that too…”
Getting up from the bed, Andy stretched his arm, started for the door.
“I don’t want to spoil your time off. It’s just, I’m swamped for time. I’ve got to get back into town soon, and I’ve only just started.”
Andy shrugged. “Don’t sweat it. It’s no problem.”
Stepping out the bedroom door, Andy walked back down the stairs and through the hall. Just as he was in sight of the front door, however, the phone rang. Walking up to the mantle, he picked up the receiver, held it to his ear.
The voice cut through so quick, Andy could even hope to greet it. “Nancy, listen. You have to hurry. I think I just saw your husband’s car pull down the road. I know you have to pack, but the plane’s gonna leave soon. We don’t have time to deal with him. Just make up an excuse and get him out of there.”
“Sorry. I assume you’re looking for my wife?”
The voice on the other end fumbled over his words, a slight squeal as he let out a long groan. “I, uh… Yes. Yes, I am.”
“Just a second…” Covering the receiver with his hand, Andy turned, looked down the hallway. “Nancy?”
Andy could hear the old hinges squeal as Nancy opened the bedroom door, ever so slowly. Walking to the head of the stairs, she sat down at the top, looked down the hallway at Andy. She lowered her head slightly, the blue of her eyes caressing her upper-eyelids.
“The phone’s for you.”
Nancy bit her lower lip, nodded. “I know.”
“Alright…” Turning back around, Andy brought the receiver back up against his ear. “She’ll be right with you…”
Setting the receiver on the mantle next to the phone, Andy took his coat off the coat rack. He slipped it on one arm at a time – first the left, then the right – just like his brother.
“Andy, I’m so sorry. I really am. I didn’t want you to find out this way. I would’ve rather left and that be it. I thought if I just disappeared …” Nancy sniffed loudly, rubbed at her nose with the butt of her hand. “I’m sorry, Andy…”
Grabbing the keys from the little basket, Andy opened the door, looked outside. It was still warm. The warmest day of the year.
“Don’t be…” Andy took a deep breath, filled his lungs. “You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do…”
Stepping outside, Andy shut the door behind him. He walked across the porch and down the steps, across the lawn to his car. Opening the door, he stepped inside.
Putting on his seatbelt, Andy started the car. Shifting into reverse, he looked over his shoulder, pulled out of the driveway. Starting down the road, he drove on in the opposite direction of the grocery store, aimless.
Andy was never one to spoil a happy ending.