The Wrong Engagement. A Dawning Truth.


Later that day in an evening marked out by routine: a self constructed prison made of ritual she laid the food out on the table.  Two pork chops with some vegetables neatly displayed  on the plate . Her husband smiling,  and pretending to ignore her turmoil, poked the cooked meat with his fork, “Lovely. Just the way I like it” It’s what he said. It’s what he always said. She pushed her arms as if through water, smiling despite the facts. “Shall we watch some TV.” Soon  noise filled out the conversation.

That night he laid down beside her, keeping safely at a distance.  It was their unspoken agreement. He who had become her sweet and innocent mistake, with neither malice nor stratagem, lacking nothing but direction: guilty only of pleasantries  slide off into sleep. She lay trawling through the day’s events. Meeting Bill at the hotel, still the same but somehow different. Older yes but more self-contained. Warm but without agenda. Asking and offering nothing. Talking of his travels and listening to her problems with a kindness mixed with rectitude.

He was not to be her cavalry. The rescuer from her obscure despair: the beacon from some distant fort. Her steps, once sure,  had led her nowhere.  What had she wanted ?  Just some girl who struck out on the wrong pilgrimage, worshiping some god who was never in the building. Her husband, irritatingly without fault or drive, and had failed to offer more than pleasantries. That dream of reaching for adventure. Of dining out with men of interest. Of being slightly more than average, had dwindled to a distant longing till Bill sprang out of some newspaper offering  a new horizon.

Her husband’s crime was not being quite good enough. Of settling for second-rate. Of dwelling on the search for safety . What she once thought was verbal brilliance proved to be mere repartee.

In the morning he bought her tea and showered as he always did. Quiet perhaps, but not unusually so. She prepared for work. Custom managed everything, till she turned to him, asking as he left, “What would you like to eat this evening”. “Oh, don’t worry about that”, he said, ” I’m leaving you” . The door closed cutting off her reply.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Romance, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to The Wrong Engagement. A Dawning Truth.

  1. Caroline says:

    Gosh I didn’t see that ending coming!! Brilliant!

    Like

  2. 1WriteWay says:

    I love this. I’m reading along and starting to wonder who is at “fault” here: her for thinking of her husband as “not quite good enough” or him for settling for something “second-rate.” That she might be surprised at his leaving her shows just how self-absorbed she was, and why he would choose to leave :). I didn’t see the ending coming either, but it makes perfect sense.

    Like

  3. leagpage says:

    Got goosebumps.

    Like

  4. Excellent! I didn’t see it coming either. I felt sorry for them both.

    Like

  5. Well, I guess walking off is better than beating a partner up out of sheer boredom.

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  6. Ina says:

    Good for him! 🙂
    Good posting!

    Like

  7. Borednicole says:

    Doh! Perfect ending! She probably would have gone on forever living like that, thinking he didn’t care that their relationship was nothing but cordial. But he wanted more…deserved more. Ha! Awesome. 🙂

    Like

  8. catterel says:

    Great – very satisfactory surprise ending, Ducks!

    Like

  9. Guess what I thought was going to happen at the end? I thought she was going to stab him with the fork!

    Your ending was far superior than my imagined one 🙂

    Like

  10. Purely.. Kay says:

    I agree with another commentor, I did nto see this ending coming. But I loved it :).

    Like

  11. nelle says:

    Nice one. Sometimes relationships don’t last, been there… 27.5 years.

    Like

  12. sue wells says:

    Love this. Brilliant short story writing!

    Like

  13. I LOVE this! It would make a great drama on TV.

    You got me too!! Didnt expext this ending. Wonderful! 🙂

    Like

  14. araneus1 says:

    Nicely done…….. love the ending.
    love this clause “worshiping some god who was never in the building.”
    Terry

    Like

  15. My 10-Month Get-Clean Sabbatical says:

    Wow Good one. That ending was a thought-provoking jolt. Lovely piece of work, CD.

    Like

  16. Al says:

    I’m wondering if my life will never be the same the next time my wife serves pork chops.

    You caught us all off guard on this one, ducks.

    Like

  17. Why did he stay as long as he did (no matter how LONG that was)? At least he got away and didn’t settle for the horror of his life. Sigh.

    Like

  18. Wow, I like that! Good move, too.

    Like

  19. solarexpert says:

    The chops must have been awful 🙂 but a great story

    Like

  20. kate4samh says:

    I’m not going to say I saw this coming, only that I hoped it would. Good work! Loved this 🙂 Bollocks to those who never know what they have until it’s gone.

    Like

  21. Jen says:

    Like everyone else I was totally shocked by how that ended. Good on you! And unlike previous poster — don’t think that scenario is all that uncommon and people stay in marriages like that all the time. If you haven’t you should really really submit this one. Glimmer Train has a contest that closes this week for short fiction: https://www.glimmertrainpress.com/

    Like

  22. Aditi says:

    Damn!! It was like a knife in the heart….too good…just stumbled upon your blog and loving your space!!

    Like

  23. The whiny road that leads to a consequential destination. Think someone isn’t good enough at your own peril! As always, excellent writing, Peter.

    Like

  24. erickeys says:

    Normally I don’t like trick endings but this one is really good. You kind of get a sense that there is something deeper going on in him. Good stuff!

    Like

  25. Writerlious says:

    “Her husband’s crime was being not quite good enough.” –this line is sooo awesome. What a powerful way to describe an entire relationship or conflict in one teensy sentence. LOVE IT!

    Like

  26. Very good. Without knowing either of them, I bet all your readers will have taken sides. Thank goodness there are fewer and fewer households where wifey asks hubbie what he’d like to eat when he comes home from work, and gears her whole day around getting it right.

    Like

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