Flash fiction – 475 words
Nice Will Not Suffice
I watch him with sleepy eyes and wonder what happened to us.
He drones on, but I’m not really listening. I turn away and watch the dry brown paddocks slide on by. Which is moving: the scenery or us? I realise right then that we aren’t going anywhere, and we haven’t for a very long time.
A dirty grey sheep stands on a mound of brown dirt watching its dusty family trudge in a line along a well-worn track. I empathise with that sheep and ask myself the question I’m sure is going through its mind. Do I plod and follow, stick to the safe, the familiar, or do I strike out on my own however risky that may be?
Over twelve years, the mundanity of life has done its duty every single day, shovelling dirt over the special moments until those moments are completely buried and forgotten. The mound is the final burial place of the novelty that sparked our relationship at the start.
In this moment, I understand that nice will no longer suffice.
I turn to him and interrupt his dreary story. “Could you please pull over?”
He glances at me but doesn’t make me ask twice. Maybe he should have.
When he sees how serious I am, he slows and veers, wrestling the Commodore as the tyres struggle with the loose gravel on the side of the road. When he judges that we’re safely off the tarmac, he puts the hazards on, and turns the ignition off.
I open my door and step out.
When the first one comes to look at the Commodore, he asks why the price is so low. I tell him I’m moving on. He nods as he runs his hand over the scratches on the driver’s door, then over the dent in the boot.
He peers into the boot. “What happened to the carpet?”
“Mice,” I say with no hesitation.
He dithers and walks away to phone someone. Maybe his wife, maybe his brother, maybe his bank manager? I don’t know.
I close my eyes and turn my face towards the sun. The warmth soaks like a bath deep into my skin and the wind whips my hair in careless glee. I feel better than I have in a very long time.
The Commodore is the last thing to go.
I look back and notice a rusty blotch on the bumper. I missed a spot. I spit on the end of my sleeve and scour the mark off.
The man comes back and says he’ll take it.
I look out the bus window, shading my eyes from the glare. Heat waves shimmer over the paddocks. There are no sheep today and I watch the lonely brown dirt mound for as long as I can until it disappears behind us.
I smile. I’m moving on.