Willow Lake Press
by Glynn Sharpe © 2001

Explosions of Pink, Blue

The limp late afternoon sun drifted lazily in and out of passing clouds. Shadows stopped before his closed eyes, paused for a moment, and swam on westward.

He felt her nudge his leg with hers and tried to ignore it. She persisted and coaxed him from a light sleep.

" I was sleeping," he said, his eyes still closed.

" So sorry," she said playfully. "I hadn't realized it."


"I'm bored."

"Well let me entertain you then," he growled.

"Don't get mad."

"I'm not."

He opened his eyes. Their backyard where they were sitting was gray and without grass. Lumps of dried mud made the terrain look lunar. He let his hand slip to the side of his lawn chair and probed the earth for the right sized nugget. He found one and traced its' contours with his finger. It was hard and dry and fit neatly into the palm of his hand. The sensation brought him back to when he was a kid. He used to love tossing these little bombs around his neighborhood. They did little damage to their intended target and exploded on impact with a cloud of billowing dust, just like in the movies.

He dropped the bomb he had and searched around for a bigger one. He found one, roughly the size of a baseball, and rolled it around in the palm of his throwing hand. He turned to her and she was looking at him, smiling.

"What do you give me if I hit the fence with this?' He tossed the bomb into the air, but not high enough so that it would crumble away. The fence, about 30 feet away, rose above their heads on a small hill.

"You'll have to find out," she said with a provocative smile.

"That's enough for me," he said while getting up from the chair.

"No, no, no," she protested. "You have to be sitting ON the chair and throw it.

"Oh, alright."

He slung his arm back as far as it would go, took aim with one eye closed, and let it fly with all his might. The bomb resisted and part of it disintegrated in his hand as he was throwing it. One small chunk, no bigger than a dollar coin, arched just a few feet in front of them and plopped to ground with a dull thud.

"My hero," she teased. "I just knew you could do it."

"Nothing beats the support of a good women," he joked and rubbed the last bits of crusty soil into her leg.

"I'll always be your dirty little girl," she purred, her index finger in her mouth. She reached down smiling and scrubbed the film of dirt from her calf.

"That's the only reason I'm still here," he said, not taking his eyes from hers.

"Don't be mean now. Nobody likes a sore loser."

They were quiet again. In the distance he could here the ping of a softball ring off a metal bat and the muffled applause that followed. Dusk trudged its way toward them with his cloak of purples and blues. Soon night would take over and the mosquitoes would be out. The thought of them made him scratch his head.

"Let's play a quick game," she said, far too enthusiastically.

"Let's not."

"Oh come on. We have to go in soon. Here we go."

She didn't give a chance for protest.

"Okay, let me see…. All right, fill in the blank. The biggest Lake in Africa is?"

"Lake Wannasleepabit."

"Ha, Ha. No, it's Lake Victoria, dunce."

He could sense that she was about to go on a roll.

"Okay, number two out of five. Who starred in the movie 'The Dead Zone'?"

He stirred a bit and sat up in his seat.

"Chris Walken."

"So emerges the sleeping giant. Good boy. Who directed it?"

"David Cronenburg, that's three, and it was based on a book by Stephen King, that's four."

"Easy buddy," she said. "I'm running the show here. Two more and we head in for the night." He watched as she drained what was left of her rye.

"One more and that's it," he yawned. "I'm bushed."

"We'll see. Okay, when do I get my next period?"

"That's a trivia question?" he asked. He was getting annoyed.

"It's not public knowledge, but you should know that it by now."

"All I know about the subject in question is that you're either grumpy because you're getting it, miserable because you have it, or snappy because its' kicked the hell out of you for a week."

He didn't have to look at her to know that she wasn't amused. He knew what buttons to push on her to get her riled up as much as she did with him.

"Go back to sleep," she whispered. "You can be such a jerk sometimes."

He turned away from her and slipped gently, easily, into the heart of the lounge chair. The alcohol and the days sun helped him glide back into a shallow pool of light sleep. He could feel his breath leave him through flapping lips. The wind had picked up slightly. It blew a wisp of his hair from one side of his forehead to the other and settled it there. His body slackened further into the chair. His head rolled down and his chin rested on his chest. There was nothing but darkness and silence.

He didn't know what was happening or where he was as his body convulsed and pitched forward. His eyes burst open with the sudden rush of air from his lungs. He quickly got his bearings and realized what had happened. His wife had dropped herself into his lap while he slept. Her full weight was pressed down onto him. She pushed her face close and rested her forehead on his. Their moist skin stuck together. He could feel her warm breath circle his face and smell the liquor she had soaked herself in that afternoon.

"Wake up sweetie and tell me a secret," she slurred.

His fury was as sudden as it was volcanic. He wanted to wrap his hands around her throat and choke the life out of her. He wanted to toss her off him and stamp her with his feet, but he didn't. He corralled his anger, boxed it in so that he could shape it the way he wanted to. He was in control of his fury now as it pulsed and raced through his body like a molten river of lava.

He flipped her around in his lap and wrapped his arm tightly around her throat. His right arm snaked around her belly and he drew her into further into him. She wasn't able to move. He put his mouth close to her ear and whispered, "So you want to hear a secret right?"

"You're hurting me," she pleaded. "Let go of me."

"Not before I tell you my secret, Okay."

He felt her tremble and start to cry. She swallowed hard. He could feel it work its way down her windpipe along the width of his bicep.

"I want to tell you everything before you go, so listen closely. My little secret sweetie is that I hate both of us. I hate us for killing our baby 6 months ago. I hate us for not being strong enough, or too god damned selfish or whatever, but I've never hated anything in my life so much."

She began to cry out loud and twist herself away from him. He could feel her dig her nails into his forearm. Blood began to trickle its way the hair of his arm and perch there.

He let her go and watched her run for the screen door. He watched her stumble and trip momentarily and realized, for the first time, that he'd been chasing her for years. He'd been chasing her for her approval, chasing her for her affection and finally chasing her for her love. But for this one brief moment in their history together, he'd broken away from her and was truly free.

She reached the door and looked back at him. Their eyes met and he knew that it was the beginning of a new end for both of them.

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