I was challenged to write a 700-word story. This is by no means an easy task for me. I am a long winded mf. However, this time I was able to do it. Now whether or not it is good? Well, you be the judge. The starting line was provided as, When a man takes lunch to his wife’s office, he’s told that she hasn’t worked there in weeks…
“How’s that possible. She walked in yesterday?”
“Sorry sir. That’s just not possible. You’re going to have to leave.” The woman had her finger on the phone, security was a push away.
“Okay. Yeah. I’ll go.”
Henry left the building, steaming bag of China Night in his hand. As he passed the trash he chucked the Cashew Chicken. He walked, shaking his head and furrowing his brow, to the Brown line and hopped on. He rode the 20 minutes to his stop, absolutely racking his brain.
How could that be “not possible.” He literally just saw her there yesterday and this morning he had kissed her on her way out. The stupid woman at the desk must have been new. She obviously heard him wrong.
The biting air felt cold and stinging to his eyes, so he was glad when he opened up the door to his small apartment and slunk inside.
Joanne was at the counter in front of the window.
“Hey. What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at work. The lady there, well your receptionist is an idiot.”
“Oh, yeah,” She slowly turned around and looked tired, “Sorry, I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
Henry’s heart fell into his stomach. She seemed so pale. He silently begged for this to not be another “attempt.”
“Honey, I know you don’t love your job but it’s important to go. We can work on finding you another one too. Please don’t just not go.”
In the glint of the light from the window, Henry almost couldn’t see his wife. He put his keys down on the stand to his right and walked up to her. Now shadow played over his eyes and Joanne’s black hair looked blacker.
“You should go. You have that lunch with Rick. You’re supposed to go. It’s Friday.” He could barely hear her voice. Leaving her alone wasn’t a good idea.
“I can’t leave you here like this.” Henry reached out but Joanne held up her hands and smiled. She always did that when she just needed a sec alone.
“It’s fine. You don’t have to worry about me. I promise.”
Henry sat at the table not really eating or talking to Rick. He seemed to notice.
“Yeah, Joanne’s just acting strange again. I’m worried.”
Rick’s face paled. He set his silver fork down on the side of his plate, next to his mashed potatoes.
“Yeah. It’s been a long while since, well you know. And she seemed alright, but now I’m afraid she’s gonna do something.”
Rick looked like he was about to speak but he couldn’t sit there anymore. Henry got up and dropped a twenty on the table.
“Sorry Rick!” Henry was already running off to catch the next train in the subway, “I just have to check on her!”
“No! You’re not…” But Rick’s voice was fading into the background din of voices and cars and birds and wind. He didn’t know what he was going to say.
Henry rushed back inside the stuffy two-bedroom. Joanne wasn’t in the kitchen. When he walked to their room she wasn’t there either. He heard water running.
Henry ran to the bathroom. As he opened the door a puff of steam escaped and blinded him momentarily. She was standing in the middle of the room, but the tub and sink were empty.
“I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry. I really regret this. Yeah, I can still regret.”
“Honey what’s going on?”
Henry’s phone rang in his pocket. He answered Rick in a cold voice.
“This isn’t a good time Rick.”
“Henry I’ve let this go on long enough. You need to talk to somebody. This isn’t right.”
“What are you talking—”
Joanne moved to stand by the tub and she looked down at it. Rick was rambling in his ear.
“Enough already Henry,” Henry turned away to keep the conversation from Joanne.
“She’s been dead for weeks. You can’t keep doing this.”
Henry stopped. When he went to look at Joanne, she was gone.