Word Play
Andrew R Crow

He'd been doodling with a pen and pad of paper ever since he'd sat down. Doodling and drinking. Switch the order and you're closer to the truth. Writing down words, names to be more precise, trying to place them in some order that would make sense to him at least, if not logically.

Eight names, top to bottom in order of...? Height? Best? Worst liar? Most affairs? Caused the most excruciating pain? That would have to be Elena, whom he'd just spoke to before cataloguing his life. Most Excruciating Pain.

Order. Maybe that was the key. He smiled as a thought struck him: Selena, Tisha, Andrea, Lucy and Elena. STALE. Maybe? Holly, Andrea, Tisha and Elena? That fit his mood better. And maybe explained everything leading up to now.

What had happened? They'd all wanted what he'd wanted: a family, children. What had gone wrong? It started as it always did. That love-at-first-sight infatuation, trembling, nervous at first, more comfortable as the weeks went on. And then that point, always that undefinable point just as things were going so well, when it went sour. They weren't sure about children now, in fact weren't sure about anything, including the relationship. Things weren't working out after all, maybe they needed time to think. The hearts they'd given him just weren't in it anymore. He had little left to remember any of them now. Just broken hearts.

But today, today was the worst. Elena, the MEP of his list. If his old high school buddy Ted hadn't worked at the clinic and if Ted hadn't known about Elena's walking out last month, he never would have known. Never would have called him. How could she? She knew what he wanted. Couldn't even be bothered to fucking TELL HIM! The 'A' word. D&C. He'd finally had what he'd always wanted, what she'd said she wanted until the end, only to have it sucked out by a for-god's-sake vacuum cleaner.

He looked up from the table, remembering the kitchen he'd spent so much time in until recently. He hadn't bothered to knock. He'd copied the key she'd given him long before he'd returned it. As he'd done so many times before.

He blinked, realising how long he'd been here. Time to move.

He shifted in his seat, noticed his left foot was wet; blood was pooling beneath the table. The X he'd carved under her left breast was thick with congealed blood, sinking into the empty cavity below. He picked up the crimson object, wrapped in cellophane and ready to add to the collection. He stood and left, whistling a happy tune, a fresh face in mind, new purpose in his soul.

First published: August, 2003
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