And now it's night

A Losing Chase story by Cheapmetaphor

Today you cleared your throat a hundred times.
Agreed with twenty cliches. Made toast.
You looked at your watch five times an hour.
You are that fool. And now it's night.
  - from Wasting a Day by Paul D. McGlynn


FANDOM: Losing Chase, Chase/Elizabeth, PG.
SUMMARY: "This is the start of life after Elizabeth."
NOTES: For Mosca's free verse challenge, thanks to M for the beta and ass-kicking.


(I. Parting is such sweet sorrow.)

There's an accident at the corner of Lexington and Ninth, traffic backed up both ways for miles. The radio hisses, the sun beats down on the car and this, this is the start of life after Elizabeth.

"It wasn't love," Richard says, flicking the air-conditioner on and off with his thumb. He won't speak after this, all tense shoulders and tight jaw. You turn to face the window, watch the ocean sparkle in the sun.

You want to run, wonder if you still can, wonder if it's as easy as running to the top of a lighthouse and refusing to come down. Your fingers dance across the door handle, but the locks are automatic, childproof. The doctors are just waiting for you to try it, needles for you and a smile for your husband. Not again. In the mirror you see little Richard smirking.

You will not cry.

(II. This too shall pass.)

They'll never give you another chance no matter how prettily you smile.

You could try. You could become mother-of-the-fucking-year, bake pies from scratch and help run carpools to the sailing club. Call Cynthia, invite her and the girls round for drinks, let it all drive you crazy quietly this time. Instead you give the kids burned toast for lunch. They eat half of it before Richard sees and takes them to McDonald's. The car pulls out of the driveway, gravel crunching under the wheels. For a second you're not sure if they'll come back. You rest your forehead against the doorframe and have to try hard to breathe.

The phone rings, but it's not her. "A salesman from Boston broke my heart," you'd say if she were here, not there. If things were different. Maybe she'd laugh and it would be easy again. You wouldn't have to clear your throat a hundred times before you answered a call. Maybe she'd laugh at that too.

You check your watch five times an hour. She doesn't call.

(III. Every cloud has a silver lining)

The day drags on. You take the sheets off her bed and carry them across to the laundry room. Scrub the bath. Empty the trash can from her room. Take her half-eaten tub of yogurt out of the fridge. You find one of her rings on the kitchen counter, sweep it into the utensil draw with your hand and slam it shut. Open it again and slam it shut louder. Again. It doesn't help. You smash a plate into the sink and one of the pieces cuts your finger. This makes you cry.

The kids come home to find you lying on the couch, half asleep, half numb.

"Dad says he'll be back later," little Richard yells as he stomps upstairs. You don't know how he manages to stay angry at you twenty-four hours a day. It must be exhausting. Jason disappears and comes back minutes later, carefully balancing a full glass of milk in his tiny hands.

"Drink this Mommy, it'll make you strong." His face lights up as you take the glass from him. He was always so easy to please. When he was a baby all you had to do was walk into his bedroom and he'd stop crying. You want to tell him not to care so much, that you'll figure out a way to hurt him if he does.

He curls around you as you sit up to drink. You still have this.


And now it's night.

(Tomorrow is...)

The telephone doesn't ring, keeps on not ringing. Jason goes to bed without being told. You leave little Richard with the television. He turns it up as you walk past. You're going to need another nanny. Old this time, with warts. One that will either scamper away when you glare or one that just bustles around and ignores you. One that won't read you to sleep with her hands in your hair and make you dream of sailing.

(Tomorrow is...)

Darkness makes you crazy. "Your finest hour, love," Richard used to say, then look at you like you didn't understand. You'd storm up and down the stairs, in and out of the kitchen. Bang pots and pans, wake up the children. Run outside in bare feet to pull up the garden while the rain forced mud between your toes. Watch her cry and scream, feel something in you break.

(Tomorrow is another day.)

You wonder if you'll ever remember how to wake up whole again.



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