She let herself in, shedding the remnants of her workday as
she walked through the apartment: purse, scarf, the thin sheaf of paper they
called a newspaper
. She missed curling up on the couch with the Times.
"Hello, Lou.” David
called from the living room.
She watched him in the glow of the television screen. “How long has the power been on?”
“Ten minutes. Why
didn’t you ring?”
He returned to the television.
She viewed her husband as just another decoration:
occasionally dusted but otherwise set upon the shelf to be looked at every so
often. She supposed he viewed her in the
same way. “David?”
He looked up. Was
that hope she saw on his face? “Yes?”
“Nothing.” She shook her head. “What would you like for dinner?”
“Whatever you’d like.
I’ll phone it in when you decide.”
She nodded and continued down the hall towards their
bedroom. David had made up the bed after
she’d left for work. Now, she tidied the
bathroom. Every day, they tiptoed around
each other carefully this way, making certain the little considerations and
niceties were still observed: David picked up his laundry. She put away her makeup. It ought to have worked. But locked into this marriage, they lived a
life full of absence. There was no
love. There were no dreams.
She hadn’t meant for it to be this way. Thrown together in these unusual
circumstances, she figured love would grow.
Since the Disintegration, the government had begun arranging
marriages, analyzing compatibility worksheets and assigning spouses, not based
upon interest but on their ability to produce the next generation. As the leader of Department 24, she was
responsible for thousands of unhappy marriages.
The government wasn’t interested in happiness.
She was. For herself
The lights went out.
She tripped in the darkness. She fell;
“Lou?” David appeared
with his flashlight. “You frightened me.”
He took her in an awkward embrace.
It was all she could hope for.
Labels: fiction Trifecta Writing Challenge