“It wasn’t supposed to end like this,” he told me. “It wasn’t really supposed to end.” And for some reason I believed him, it made sense, it wasn’t supposed to end, but of course, of course it had to end because I was there in my kitchen and he was there in my kitchen, and it wasn’t our kitchen, because his country home kitchen was eighteen miles away, with his wife making walnut brownies or French Roast coffee and his son practicing guitar in a bedroom littered with shoes and flannel shirts, and it wasn’t supposed to end, but it was. And when he left, when it actually ended, I lay down on the garage floor with my face next to an oil stain and traced the spill – a rabbit, a dinosaur, a cracked teapot – and I cried, wailed, frantic and fast with chest leaping and fists crushed at heart and tremors in my legs because I couldn’t hold it all together anymore. And I thought I’d just lie there forever, until my husband came home and drove right over me calling me whore and leaving me flattened into my own stain.

My kids need me. That’s what I remembered. They need me, my car, my ability to step on a gas pedal, to navigate the streets and avenues and traffic circles so they can make baseball practice and tap lessons and they can get cookies for class parties and they need me, yes they do, and so I lifted myself from the cold cement floor and made my way inside. In the kitchen, I let a glass break. It slipped so easily, and I said “damn, damn, damn” at the slivers and shouted at the cat who might cut his paws, and when my husband called and said he was stopping to buy a new fishing rod he’d seen on sale and to please hold dinner for an hour, I took an orange and threw it against the wall. It smacked with such a lovely thud, such a momentous mark, that I reasoned it was meant to be, oranges against walls and husbands who don’t come home and lovers who leave and children who might make something bold and brilliant of their lives, and all the while little mousy housy me will bake a fuckin’ cake and try to forget about lighting my apron on fire.

About the author:

Shellie Zacharia's fiction has appeared in a number of journals, including Swivel, Vestal Review, Small Spiral Notebook, South Dakota Review, and Washington Square. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.