Living With An Error


Later that day in an evening marked out by routine; a self-constructed prison built of ritual, she put the food out on the table: two pork chops with some vegetables neatly laid out on the side. Her husband smiling, and pretending to ignore her turmoil, poked the cooked meat with his fork, “Lovely, just the way I like it” 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,” she asked and he nodded: make-believe filled out the silence.

That night he lay down beside her, at a distance: it was their unspoken custom. He was her sweet and innocent mistake, a character with neither malice nor stratagem, lacking nothing but direction, who slid off into sleep while she lay trawling through the day’s events. Meeting Bill that afternoon, the man she should have married, still the same but somehow different, older yes, and more self-contained, still warm but now without agenda, talking of his travels and listening to her problems with kindness marked by rectitude. He was not to be her cavalry: the rescuer from obscure despair. Her steps, once sure, had led her nowhere. What had she wanted?

She was just a girl with dreams, who struck out on the wrong pilgrimage, worshiping a god who was never in the building. Her husband, irritatingly without fault or drive, had failed to offer more than pleasantries. That dream of reaching for adventure, 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, reminding her of her youthful hope and offering a new horizon.

Her husband’s crime was not being quite good enough, settling for second-rate, dwelling on the search for safety and what she once thought of as 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” and he replied “Oh, don’t worry about that, I’m leaving you.” The door closed before she could reply.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, marriage, Peter Wells, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Living With An Error

  1. The grass is always greener…well, perhaps merely a slightly different shade. This is a well told story of might-have-beens, although maybe they are better off as such – dreams in ahich to lose oneself. Well written, Peter.


  2. ksbeth says:

    it seems they both yearned for something they had hoped for, yet never really attained. “the make believe filled with silence….”. brilliant phrase, peter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. judithhb says:

    Well, that was unexpected. I wonder how true this is for many people. It’s sad when a marriage works for neither party.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh irony…sometimes you can be even crueler than karma!


  5. gotham girl says:

    Well that was a show stopper at the end! I’m sure this is happening all around us! Good one Peter.


  6. Interesting what happens when we are not honest enough with ourselves to see the same in others.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. rubiescorner says:


    Liked by 2 people

  8. rubiescorner says:


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice twist at the end. It holds the attention all the way through and then “pop!” the cork comes out of the bottle.


  10. Love the ending. The life, though, living isn’t always about adventure. I wonder which of them doesn’t see that.


  11. nelle says:

    There are some brilliant lines in this story, cleverly used. So much was said in such a short space, a window into a mismatch where both knew it and didn’t wish to say.

    Extracting ourselves from such mistakes is never easy. We care, even if we don’t feel fully connected.

    Well done, Peter.


  12. Morpheus Zzz says:

    I think people expect to be the hero/heroine figure in their own personal stories which will result in a happy ending. When it doesn’t turn out that way (and we are the sidekicks instead), it’s hard to just enjoy the life we do have and the pleasures we can find in it. Anyway, your story brings to mind a line used in a book that continues to resonate in me.

    “People used to tell me when I was young that I didn’t know what I was capable of, that my intelligence was limitless, that I could do anything. Which I’ve come to realize is true in both directions. I never imagined that I was capable of this life. It would have seemed impossible to me when I was younger, but God do we surprise ourselves. They never tell you that what we surprise ourselves with may be disappointment.”
    ― Alexander Maksik, “You Deserve Nothing”

    Liked by 1 person

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