We had four prompts for this story. They were: Blue skies, Perfect weather, Top down, A wasted life. One reason it’s so easy for us to write a short story is that, given three or more prompts, we can already see a snapshot of the story we want to write. We hear other writers complain that trying to fit anything over one prompt into a story makes their head spin, but apparently there’s truth to the old adage that two heads are better than one. More space for the ideas to bounce around in! (Yeah, yeah, we know. That implies there’s a lot of empty room up there!)
Also, as a side note: Somewhere between originally writing this short and polishing it for the blog, we forgot what the prompts were. Thankfully, because we use Google Docs for all our writing, it was a simple matter to bring up the version history, click on the very first version and find the prompts sitting there, right at the top of the page, along with the very first rough outline of the story.
HI, HONEY, I’M HOME!
I needed this, I thought as I pulled out of the parking lot at work.
Hell, I deserved this.
Getting this convertible was a great idea! I don’t care what everyone says, I didn’t get it because I’m going through a ‘midlife crisis.’
I accelerated onto the freeway, finally heading home after a long day in court. I got it for days like today. The weather’s perfect. With the top down like this, it’s all blue skies and the sun on my face. The wind’s in my hair and the road’s unspooling in front of me.
I turned the radio on to my favorite station and sang along with the music, trying to relax. Some days, I wish I could just leave the whole, messy world behind and drive forever.
The song ended. “Do you have an annuity, but you need money now? Call J. G. Went….” CLICK. No! I can’t handle another ambulance chaser today.
I drove along in silence for a bit, until I hit my exit.
Almost there. Now what?
Go home. Park the car in the garage. Open the door.
Brace myself for the reception that I get every night. That I’ve gotten for longer than I can remember. I can just hear her now….
“What took you so long? Were you with someone? The kids have been real pains today. You need to have a talk with them. And in case you’re wondering, dinner’s not ready yet. The repairman just finished fixing the stove. I also put together a schedule for us to clean and organize the house this weekend….”
How does she get all that out without taking a breath? She just unloads her wants, needs, and accusations on me.
Turning into our subdivision, I couldn’t help wondering, Where did I go wrong? Have I wasted my life?
I thought she was the perfect woman for me, and she was…is, I mean, is.
I rubbed the bridge of my nose. Argh! When did her nagging, this constant worrying start?
When the kids came along? No, we love Timmy and Jane more than life itself!
Was it when we decided I’d be the breadwinner and she’d stay home instead of pursuing her own career?
I mean, it was the logical decision. My law career was taking off, while her art career was floundering.
And where did she get the idea I was fooling around on her? As if I had the time or energy for that!
Although I have to admit my secretary, Denise, does take my breath away with those tight dresses. Not to mention that she’s always finding ways to ‘accidentally’ show me that she’s interested. And the way she sashays through my office door…. Whew!
No. Not going there. I love my wife and kids.
I just don’t like where we’re at these days.
What can I do, though? Bring her flowers? The last time I tried that, she put them down the disposal while demanding to know what I was apologizing for.
Candy? I got one hell of an earful when the kids got into them! They were on a sugar high for hours. I think I got an hour’s sleep that night.
I turned the corner onto our street.
Maybe we could get away for a weekend.
Who’m I kidding? I’m juggling too many cases at the moment to even consider taking her away for one night.
And dinner alone, just the two of us, no kids? Tried that. All I heard was the constant dinging of her phone. When did babysitters become little tattle-tales instead of caregivers?
I pressed the button to open the garage door and slid my convertible into its spot. Climbing out of the car, I paused as a new thought hit me.
Hmmm, that’s an idea. And it just might work. Hopefully….
Cybil, my one true love, greeted me with a flat voice.
“Oh. You’re home.”
I knew what came next, but I wasn’t having it this time.
Before she could draw a breath, I dropped my briefcase, swept her up in a warm embrace, and kissed her deeply and thoroughly.
When we finally came up for air, I held her away from me, focusing on her face.
“Cybil, have I told you lately how precious you are to me? How much I appreciate all you do for me and the children? How wonderful a person you are and how much I love you?”
She froze for a moment, then melted back into my arms. “I’m sorry. I’ve let my stress spill over onto you lately, haven’t I. I love you so much. Can we put all that behind us?”
The deep kiss that followed was my only answer.
Then she got that old familiar wicked look in her eyes. “The kids are all over at Amy’s house for dinner. How about we….”
Her voice trailed off as she leaned into me and yanked my shirt up over my head.
Grabbing my exposed bra, she purred, “Come on, Elise, let’s go upstairs….”
Afternote: We knew from the beginning that we wanted the protagonist to be a woman, turning the idea that only men could have a mid-life crisis on its ear. So, we saved the reveal, that ‘aha’ moment, to the last sentence.
Did you guess our surprise ending? Let us know down below.