Today I decided to post a story I wrote while in college. It was printed in my college newspaper, and while the writing is acceptable to me, I feel like I’ve grown more as a writer since it’s publication.
~ Happily Ever After ~
Jerri Higgins ©1989
Diane turned the corner and thought she saw Chris across the street. Her heart pounded as she retreated back around the corner. She inched her head out to look again, and a weakening sensation of relief came over her as she saw it wasn’t him. She prayed she wouldn’t meet him on the street. Continuing on to Avernon & Bullock, Attorneys at Law, Diane couldn’t stop her hands from trembling. ‘How strange’, she thought, ‘to feel such hate toward someone I still love.’
Eighteen days ago they were together, but that night he had come home and ended their relationship. She remembered clearly and painfully his pronouncement as he sat beside her on the couch – the couch they bought at Cassandra’s Furniture in Soho when they first moved in together. He bluntly stated: “I’m not attracted to you anymore” and he hoped she would “be okay”. His words made her feel numb, and sounded remote, like he was talking about someone else. Hadn’t he pledged his eternal love to her? Didn’t he say, just a few months ago, that they would be together always? She replayed his words over and over in her mind. He said it had been building up for a while, and he tried to get back the old feelings, but he couldn’t. And then, he got up, took an already packed suitcase out of the hall closet, and walked out the door.
Diane shook her head in an effort to stop ruminating on what happened, and went over her speech to try to win him back, if he would listen to her. She straightened up and made her steps more resolute. She would do nothing of the sort. She didn’t want him in her life if he didn’t want to be there. Five years meant little to him. There was someone else out there for her, wasn’t there? Diane turned to go home, and then checked herself. ‘No! I’ve got to do this’, she thought. ‘I need him to see me and make sure there’s nothing left for him – for us’.
Her gait slowed as she walked, but she was intent. In her mind she saw his deep, grey eyes – those beautiful eyes that could look so hurt that she would give in during an argument – even when she was right. Diane came out of her reverie, surprised to find herself a block from the intersection before the law building. This was where she and Chris had met six years before. She had been rushing for a taxi, the same one he was running for. They argued over it for a minute, and both stubbornly got in, announcing a mutual destination of LaGuardia Airport. Diane laughed first, then Chris. He said he could have waited, that had he missed his plane, he might have been able to relax for the first time in months. She told him she had to make the plane for her first assignment as Head of Public Relations for Greylock Investments. She was headed to a meeting in Chicago. He, too, said that he was on his way to Chicago. Diane continued that the investment firm she worked for was reviewing a number of law firms; among them was Avernon & Bullock. Chris had looked at her so surprised that Diane blushed thinking she had been babbling. He had laughed at her expression and revealed that it was his father’s firm, and how big the odds were against them both getting in the same taxi, bound for the same destination.
Diane reminisced with a smile how he had affected an accent like Humphrey Bogart’s and said: “Of all the taxis in all the world and she had to get into mine…”
Chris’s father, George Avernon, and his partner, Charles Bullock, owned the prestigious law firm in New York. Diane remembered her nervousness; she wanted to impress Chris. His easy manner and disarming smile relaxed her, however, and they chatted all the way to the airport and managed to sit together on their flight.
They became fast friends and were dating steadily within a few months. They fell madly, passionately in love, and by the end of the year they moved in together. Sex was incredible; life was good. They worked too much to get very used to one another, and Diane once remarked how their life together felt like a modern fairy tale, to which Chris responded by swirling her around, dipping her in a graceful movement, and bringing her up to him with a tender kiss, said: “here’s to our happily ever after!”.
Then, three years later, Diane’s firm had a major restructuring, and she was laid off. Depressed for weeks, she stayed in, needing more of Chris than he could give. She looked for work intermittently, and tried to get out of her slump, but began to be bothered by little things that Chris did or said. She felt Chris withdrawing from her but when she asked he would tell her: “Nothing’s changed; I’m just overworked, and tired.” But he was leaving earlier and coming home later too. Diane hated herself for the way she felt, for arguing over petty issues, and she vowed to make things better.
She began getting up with Chris and making his lunches before her now daily routine of cold calls and any networking opportunities she could find. She finally got work in sales at a graphic design firm, and after a while it seemed that her and Chris’s life was getting back to where it once was. Chris seemed more at ease. They were making love more – and they were talking more frequently again. Diane noticed that Chris was paying more attention to their relationship. He would even occasionally keep her awake late into the night again, telling her childhood stories, discussing his dreams and hopes for the future.
“That’s it!”, she said aloud. A few passersby looked disdainfully at her. Diane was too caught up in her conclusion to care about her impropriety. ‘He only talked about himself’, she thought. ‘I was never included. Maybe I should have talked about what I wanted. He probably wants to start a family and thinks I’m too involved in my career! Maybe…’
Diane cut her thought short. It wasn’t about a family that Chris left her. It was because he thought he couldn’t be happy with her anymore, but she needed to convince him otherwise, if he’d even hear her. Chris’s last blank look toward her flashed through her mind, and her anger flared. The sad fact, she mused, was that she still loved him, and wasn’t handling the break-up as well as Chris seemed to be. Diane switched her thoughts to how Chris would see her looking and feeling her best, and he would realize the terrible mistake he had made in leaving her. He’d beg her forgiveness, saying that he didn’t know what had come over him, and although he wasn’t worthy – would she give him another chance? A smug satisfaction filled her to think of Chris on his knees, begging Diane to take him back.
A slight laugh escaped Diane at this thought, but a blaring horn brought her back to reality and she shuddered to see where she was. She checked traffic and stepped off the curb. Across the street the chrome block letters of Avernon & Bullock seemed to mock her. The black marble facing that had always represented elegance to Diane, now seemed cold and stern, as cold as Chris’s words: “I’m just not attracted to you anymore.” Her stomach turned with that thought. She shrugged it off with a more determined stride as she tightened her grip on her shoulder bag, pulled open the glass door, and stepped inside. Her heart raced again with the thought of what she would say to Chris as she proceeded down the long hall.
The last door on the left was only a few feet ahead. She stopped in front of the dark, mahogany door. Diane breathed deeply to steady herself, but her hand shook as she grasped the cool black knob and turned it. The receptionist was gone, as she had hoped, but she knew that Chris almost always ate lunch in his office. Diane glanced at the clock above the desk: 12:15. She crossed the room to Chris’s office and cupped her ear to the door, but heard nothing. Perhaps he’d gone out to lunch after all. She knocked lightly, half hoping there would be no answer. The sound of his familiar footfalls across the hickory flooring of his office made her stomach flutter. Chris opened the door; his usual pat expression of greeting leaving his face.
“Diane! – Why? – what are you doing here?”
Diane looked into his eyes. Wasn’t there a flicker of his old feelings for her? The love must still be there – it just needed coaxing, she thought. It couldn’t have left him so soon. She quickly suppressed those feelings, and said:
“I want to know if you might change your mind about us.”
“Look, I’m very busy”, he stammered. “It’s over, Di. I don’t have anything else to say. I’m sorry, but that’s it.”
“I’m really sorry to hear that, Chris”, she said while reaching into her shoulder bag, pulling out a .38 Special and pointing it at him. She saw the color drain from his face as he gasped and blurted out,
“Diane, what the he…”
She fired twice into Chris’s chest, and watched him fall to the floor, surprised at how calm she was now. For a moment, time seemed to stand still, and then a cacophony of noise sounded all about her. She heard other doors banging open and the sounds of shouting and movement in the hall as clearly as though it were all going on next to her. She would never know who found them. All she thought, before taking a final breath and firing into her heart, was that she and Chris would be together, forever.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.