williamallenpepper

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LOVE’S TRAVEL STOP

In honor of the holiday, here’s a little flash fiction piece I wrote some time ago featuring an arrival, a departure and, of course, LOVE. Enjoy!

“I’m sorry, Ben,” Abigail said.

“No, you’re not.”

“Really. I just…I just don’t…”

“Say it.”

“I don’t love you anymore.”

Ben winced, closed his eyes.

A single tear fell. But it wasn’t Ben’s. Or Abigail’s.

Love was crying.

Love was somewhere else, secluded, because love sneaks up on you. But from his vantage point, he watched, devastated. “Don’t say it,” he whispered.

“I don’t love you either,” Ben said, then drove it home. “Never did.”

Love spat. Blood. Thick and ruby. The force of the words propelled him backward; droplets of blood from a busted lip staining the collar of his crisp, white shirt.

Love would have to move on soon. He knew that. But not just yet. A moment to catch his breath first.

“Gonna lay there all day?” groused a bored sounding voice.

Love looked up. The speaker’s face was obscured by a white hoodie that enveloped his face, giving him a vaguely Flintstonian Shmoo-like appearance. He held out one hand. Love grasped it and stood, visibly aged, battle scarred, not the youthful self he had been a short time ago.

“I thought you didn’t care,” Love said.

“I don’t.”

“When did you get to town?”

“Just now,” Indifference said. “I was paged.”

Love nodded. He should have guessed.

“Ben and Abigail ain’t gonna make it, Love.”

“Then I guess I should hit the road. Move on,” Love said. “Love knows no boundaries.”

“Want to get a drink first?”

“Really?”

“Meh…”

“You’re buying,” Love said.

“Why?”

“I don’t carry money. All you need is love.”

“Except when you’re drinking.”

Love and Indifference strolled through the ephemera hand-in-hand, as is often the case, looking for an open bar.

The one they found was at the end of a street that wasn’t a dead end, but might as well have been. Love and Indifference entered; the competing forces of their being blew up a storm that scattered cocktail napkins and stale pretzels and quickly created an empty table for them.

Love picked at a couple pin-sized drops of blood on his sleeve. “Another rough day at the office.”

“Love hurts,” Indifference intoned from deep within his hood. “I exist largely because loving things is painful.”

Indifference leaned across the table. “Love is random. You’re fickle. You’re certainly one-sided much of the time. Valentine’s Day should be a day of mourning.”

Love’s shaggy, newly-grey mane shook as he objected in a voice both wise and weary. “That’s the thing about indifference, my friend. It’s more than simply not caring about anything. You’re not aloof. You are actively hostile to the idea of everything. You’re not indifferent, you’re insurgent.”

Predictably, the sphinx across the table said nothing.

“What are you drinking?” Love asked.

“Meh,” Indifference shrugged.

At the next table, pretty-but-scattered Rochelle Mendota was having relationship troubles of a sort.

“No. No. That’s it,” she said into her phone. “I told you it was over.”

Indifference gestured. His point was made.

Rochelle ended the call and looked at her friend Maggie.

“So you really just quit your job?” Maggie asked, momentarily distracted from her five-alarm buffalo wings. “Just like that?”

“I had to. I love Nathan. I always have. And he’s waiting for me.”

“See?” Love said, triumphant. The blank countenance of Indifference made it hard to needle him.

“When do you leave town?” Maggie asked.

“Tomorrow. First flight out. Cheers!” The women toasted burgeoning romance.

Love, triumphant, pounded the table, throwing back his head full of no-longer-grey locks.

“You really can’t help yourself, can you?” Indifference asked.

Love said nothing, but sipped his drink, spilling none on his pristine, crisp shirt.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

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