Category Archives: Fiction

Who Would Drive So Recklessly?

Mentally reviewing the conversation, I filled with grudging acceptance. My friendship with Lilly might be irrevocably damaged. I still didn’t understand why she was so angry. We had been friends for too long for her to make such a fuss over one weekend.

As the truck in front of me slowed unexpectedly I realized that was a problem I would need to think about later. The vehicles ahead of me gradually came to a halt as we approached congestion. It never failed. Traffic was always worst when I was in a hurry.

I eased my car into the breakdown lane to my left, trying to determine how bad the bakcup was. From what I could see it extended for miles, far beyond where the road turned out of sight. I grabbed my phone and pulled up Google maps, the red line indicating slow traffic that seemed to go on forever.

There was no way I could sit through that. I had to get off and either find a place to stay or maybe a different route. It might have been irrational but I felt vulnerable, trapped there among the cars that just a short time before had made me feel protected, concealed.

Slowly I worked my way across the lanes until I was in the far right lane. Again looking at the map on my phone I tried to figure out how far the next exit was. At this painful crawl it appeared it would be at least 15 minutes before I would reach it.

When I glanced up I scanned my mirrors, out of habit more than anything else. In the passenger side mirror I saw a silver car recklessly diving down the breakdown lane.

In shock I could do nothing as it approached.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Vex and is part of something longer I’m working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after Why Was She So Mad at Me?

Why Was She So Mad at Me?

My heart soared as I reached the on-ramp with no further issues. Merging with traffic I was grateful for the perceived anonymity that came from being among the other vehicles on the road. Anxious to leave town I navigated to the passing lane and fell behind an older Toyota Tacoma going 10 over the limit.

I had never felt more alone than I did at that moment. No one even knew I was going away. I hadn’t spoken with any of my friends since the disastrous trip to the house by the river. Although I missed all of them, I longed to reach out to Lilly most, to hear her calm voice tell me everything was going to be okay.

Now that I was learning what Clay might be capable of my eyes were opening to who he really was instead of the man I had imagined. Maybe Lilly would talk to me again if she knew I wasn’t with him any longer.

Anxiously I scrolled through my contacts as I kept my car at a steady 75 mph. After I hit the phone icon next to her picture I switched the device over to bluetooth so I could keep both hands on the wheel. The phone rang four times and just as I was sure it would go to voicemail Lilly answered in a tone much cooler than the one with which she had used to greet me in the past.

Saddened by the distance I felt between us I forced myself to speak. “How are you? So much has happened. I need to talk to you.”

“Honestly, I don’t think I want to hear about it,” she replied tersely.

I bristled. I knew she didn’t approve of my relationship, and in hindsight she wasn’t wrong, but why did she sound so mad at me?

“Well, you’ll be happy to know that I finally understand why you had such an issue with Clay,” I began.

“Listen, what is happening between the two of you is really none of my business. You made it perfectly clear where your loyalties were,” she stated hotly.

“What do you mean?” I asked, intentionally keeping my inflection flat to avoid sounding defensive.

“When we were together that weekend it was obvious you only wanted to be with him. My feelings are hurt and it seems like I’ve lost my best friend. You haven’t been yourself since you met him.”

“I tried to spend time with you. What was I supposed to do, just leave him by himself?” My voice rose with my frustration.

“Nothing. Look, I have to run. Let’s catch up later,” she said just before disconnecting the call.

Vexed by Lilly’s attitude I tossed my phone onto the passenger’s seat and gripped the wheel with both hands until my knuckles were white.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Vex and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after Was He Trying to Kill Me?

Was He Trying to Kill Me?

I slipped into my 2015 Honda Pilot and backed out of my parking spot, unsure when I would return. Leaving the lot I turned right, heading toward the highway. I still hadn’t taken the time to figure out what I should do, but instinctively I felt I should leave town. I knew if I headed North there would be hotels not far from the highway.

Some time alone should help me evaluate the situation more objectively.

I had been lost in thought, again, almost missing the next turn. This was becoming a common occurrence. What was wrong with me?

I turned to the right at the last minute, my tires screeching on the pavement. Spying a car behind me do the same, my heart started to pound in my chest. It was a silver Porsche, just like Clay’s. This was not an affluent neighborhood. Luxury vehicles stood out among the more practical minivans and sedans common for the families living in this area.

What was he planning to do?

As the question formed in my mind, his car drew closer, dangerously close in my opinion. I sped up to increase the distance but he immediately closed the gap. Going well over the speed limit on a largely residential street I was afraid to accelerate much more.

Looking in the rear view mirror I was unable to be sure the driver was Clay as he was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap. It had to be him though, didn’t it? What was he doing?

As his car came within inches of mine, I was suddenly sure he was going to hit me and I braced myself for the impact. Seconds before our vehicles collided he swerved into the other lane. Fortunately there were no oncoming cars. He blew past me then cut back over just a breath away from my front bumper.

As he did, he slammed on the breaks. Shocked by what was happening as he passed me I had already started to lose speed, but I was still forced to veer into the empty parking spaces to my right in order to avoid a crash. Fearing a confrontation I turned right just as he crossed the next street at the end of the block.

Although I was relieved that I’d been able to prevent a wreck I didn’t allow myself time to celebrate. It was clear that my impulse to run was justified. Now I just had to get to the highway before he found me again.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Spying and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after Was It Time to Say Goodbye to the Past?

Was It Time to Say Goodbye to the Past?

Thinking about it as I sat there, my relationship with Clay was redolent of my past affair. In both I had made assumptions. I had been quick to fall in love with the person I thought they were, without taking the time to truly get to know them. I had been infatuated with the romantic image of being the girlfriend of a wealthy older man.

Was money really that important to me? Was I incapable of learning? Had I not changed at all in the past 10 years? Was I destined to repeat the same pattern my whole life?

I was going to have to figure that out, but at the moment there were more pressing matters. Apparently Clay had not believed me when I had told him I’d be back after I left the cafe. He had obviously come to my apartment when I was at the police station, but had not stayed. I considered the possibility that this would be the end, but my intuition told me he would not be dissuaded so easily.

Looking around, I was sad that I would once again be leaving my quirky little apartment. I had been happy there, or I suppose more accurately I had thought I’d been happy there. Maybe what I’d really been doing was hiding, barricading myself from the world, protecting myself from being hurt.

The realization flashed through my mind without conscious effort, but deep within me I felt the truth of the idea. Lilly had tried to tell me as much over the years but stubbornly I refused to admit it. I had argued that I still went out, saw my friends, went to work. But maybe I was starting to understand what she had been trying to say.

Standing I picked up my backpack. I briefly contemplated what I might want from my home while I was away. Realizing I’d been without everything there for weeks I decided it was better to walk away from it all. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be gone, but there was nothing there I truly needed.

I grabbed the keys from their hook next to the door, then paused with my hand on the knob. Looking back over my shoulder at the quaint space that had been mine, I sighed with resignation. Like it or not, my life was about to change. I would no longer be able to hide in my sanctuary.

A tear slipped down my cheek as I left my past life behind me.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Redolent and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after How Do I Know if It’s Love?

How Do I Know if It’s Love?

I had no idea what love really was. My one relationship, if you could call it a relationship, had been such a failure I had seldom dated afterward. I had thought that was love, had actually believed we were going to get married and live happily ever after. The truth turned out to be too humiliating to handle.

It had begun the year my mother passed away. I had been 28 at the time, still deeply affected by my mother’s death even though 7 months had passed. I had barely left my apartment except to work. My friends had been concerned about me, but I told them I needed time to deal with my loss. She had been my best friend, my biggest supporter, and I felt lost without her.

At the time, I was working for a law firm as a receptionist and a man had come into the office for a meeting. As he waited he’d leaned against my desk chatting with me. It wasn’t until a coworker returned from showing him into the conference room bubbling with excitement that I even considered his conversation might be something more than a way to kill time.

Before he left he once again stopped in front of me, this time to invite me for a drink after work. I was flattered but also flustered. He was clearly a successful older man. What could he possibly see in me? But with my coworker nodding her head exaggeratedly behind him it was difficult to say no.

That night began what I thought was a romantic love affair. It turned out he was a businessman with dealings all over the world. He had homes in several countries, and rarely spent long in any one place. But over the almost 2 years we were together we would spend virtually every night he was in town in his magnificent penthouse apartment overlooking the city.

I had been so sure he had been in love with me. He brought me lavish gifts from his travels and emailed me often when he was away. It had been a complete shock the night I’d received the phone call, the anonymous woman on the other end of the line telling me to leave her husband alone.

I refused to believe what she had implied, but after some internet searching I found a Facebook page that was hard to refute. When I confronted him about it he didn’t deny it, didn’t even have the decency to apologize. I had been heartbroken.

Because of this, I had an abiding distrust of men and relationships. I avoided becoming romantically entangled with anyone, which is why what had happened with Clay had been so surprising. Surely now that I was approaching 40 my judgement had improved. Hadn’t it?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Abiding and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after What Did He Say in the Letter?

What Did He Say in the Letter?

Tears sprang to my eyes before I was able to stop them. I had to pull myself together. I could let fear and self-doubt debilitate me, or I could take control and find a way out of this mess. The music meant he had been there, but it didn’t mean he was still there. I could grab the keys and then drive out of town, find someplace quiet where I could make some decisions about the future.

I told myself I was strong enough, but somewhere deep within me a voice told me I’d never break free, that I was actually better off returning to him. Briefly I thought about the time I’d spent with Clay. Maybe I was overreacting. I didn’t fully understand what had happened the past few weeks. If I went back he could explain what I’d found. He had always been able to ease my mind when I had been confused or scared.


Too afraid to be heard, I merely thought the word instead of screaming it. Still, it was enough to drown the chatter in my mind. I would get away, and then think through what was going on. I couldn’t do that here. I wouldn’t be able to think clearly with reminders of Clay everywhere. Somehow things had gotten out of control. I didn’t really understand what was going on, but something wasn’t right. And knowing he had been in my apartment when I wasn’t there felt like a violation. Maybe the problem was me in the end, but I wouldn’t be able to figure that out standing there on my stoop, and letting Clay confuse matters once again wasn’t going to solve anything.

Regaining my courage I pushed open the door and was shocked by the display in front of me. Magnolia blossoms had been spread across my dining table; an envelope with my name written in Clay’s tight scrawl lay propped against the hurricane lamp that held a flickering candle in the center.

With trembling fingers I ripped open the letter, anxious to know what was inside. I unfolded the thick stationary and read:

It doesn’t have to be this way. I love you. You belong with me. Come home.

Confusion swept through me as I read the words, “I love you.” Was this love? Maybe. I had never actually been in love, although a few times in the past I had mistaken infatuation for love. The word replayed in my mind, over and over. Love. Love.

Feeling light-headed I sat in one of the hard, wooden chairs at the table, my eyes fixed on the candle. I watched the wax drip down the sides as the word continued to beat in my mind. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Blossom and Debilitate and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after The Beautiful Music Was Eerie in My Apartment.

The Beautiful Music Was Eerie in My Apartment

I was hot and my face was flushed as I finally reach my apartment. Sweat was running down my back and the backpack had grown heavy during the long walk. I set it on the stoop next to the front door, realizing for the first time that I didn’t have my keys. I shook my head in frustration, aggravated with myself for not thinking through these details.

Fortunately I kept a spare key in the tray under the flower pot on the edge of the step, the pitiful plant dead from being neglected during my absence. I carefully lifted the pot but the key wasn’t there. My hands began to tremble as I was forced to accept that the key was gone.

Panic settled into my chest, making it difficult to breathe. Slowly I took a deep breath then held it, attempting to remain calm. Had I used it and forgotten to return it?

Thinking back I tried to remember the last time I had used the key. It had been when Clay had brought me to get my clothes so many weeks ago. Had I put it back? I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I had.

Suddenly another possibility struck me. What if Clay had been here? He had seen where the key was. What if he were still here?

I looked around me nervously, not sure what I was expecting to see. I didn’t really expect him to jump out of the bushes, especially if he had the key.

My hand moved to the door knob. Would it be locked? The car key I needed was on a hook beside the door. All I had to do was open it wide enough to slip in my hand and grab it. Did I dare try?

I had to make a decision. I’d walked so far to get my car, and the keys were still inside my apartment. Having a car could make things so much easier. I could go further away, make it harder for him to find me. If the door was locked, as I expected it to be, then I would need to come up with another plan.

But what if he were inside?

I couldn’t see into the apartment from where I stood, and I always kept the blinds on my windows closed unless I was airing out the apartment, so looking in a window wasn’t an option. I was just going to have to take the risk.

Taking one more deep breath I turned the knob and pushed the door open a couple of inches. When I did I could suddenly hear soft music playing, a peaceful melody; piano, flute and nature sounds in a familiar harmony. The hair on my arms raised as I recognized the music Clay had played for me the first day I had been at his house, the sounds that had soothed me as I took a bath in his luxurious tub.

There was only one reason it would be playing inside my apartment.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Harmony and is part of something longer I am working on.

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after What Could I Do If the Police Wouldn’t Help Me?