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Flash Fiction: The Husband on the Roof

By Carl Scharwath                      

The black star-filled evening seemed ready to flow into the horizon, down a gaping hole.

There was a time I was a loving husband. I know that was years ago but sometimes my memory is not capable of verifying this.

The escape I desired was in front of me all the time, or should I say above me? The oasis of being alone at home could only be accomplished by taking to the roof.  The journey was transparent, open the window of my 3rd floor bedroom and the small, shingled cover would accept me with all my faults like the summer grass of my youth. This would be a new sanctuary: I could read, have my coffee, wave to the neighbors or simply close my eyes and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood.  The roof shingles would be the canvas in my memory garden. Why would I spend mindless time watching television, surfing the internet, or worse having an affair or drinking? My view was like a virtual reality movie unfolding in front of my eyes. You might by now ask how the hell I got here: an old married man, alone and searching for any hope or happiness in what could be the last days?

My marriage after 35 years was falling apart, like my body, cars, house, and life. I know it is my fault that she is no longer happy and constantly, from morning to night, complains and blames me for everything and every choice I make. I always believed in the cliché only you can make yourself happy and I pray my wife will find peace. I feel I need to take to the roof and speak directly to heaven for God to hear me and that is another reason I sit here.

The neighbors I am sure would have another opinion of me. Why is the man sitting on the roof for hours on end?  My neighbors as they were out walking would not make eye contact for fear of being brought into a higher decibel conversation. Most just waved and nervously smiled while walking into their perfect lives and marriages. I silently meditated on what their thoughts might be and if their own lives were absolutely perfect or just a façade?

Out in the distance, gray clouds were growing, and hot flashes could be seen and were complimented with a far-off roar. This brought to me a thought: to sit through the storm, right here in my safe place and if the lightening killed me, then I would have eternal relief.  The start of winds awoke me to an epiphany, a sadness that this was the first time I ever thought of wanting to die.

At that moment, I became totally immersed with thoughts of the past. I was happy, each day a miracle of life for which I was grateful. I remembered my first date with the woman I would marry. The way we held hands, with the music like a background soundtrack to our jazz-infused love. The late-night conversations ending with hugs and whispers of I love you. I saw us both young and in our first year of marriage, I heard my wife tell me she was pregnant and remembered the joy we shared for the future as a family. The realization of the horrible husband I had become awakened me as the rain softly filled my face with cloud tears.

Down the street, a familiar car was finishing its journey home, holding my wife in its closed interior with her unknown emotions. The rain was increasing its intensity along with my apprehension.

The sound of her car excited me, closer and closer she would come to our new happiness. I hoped to welcome my wife home to the change she would see. I worried I was not too late, and our marriage could be saved. She looked up at me with wide eyes of amazement seeing me still on the roof with the impending storm whirling around in its uncertainty. I timidly ambled to the edge of the roof as she was walking swiftly to the front door now ignoring me, the way I did our marriage the last few years. Looking down at her my new love filling my eyes as my feet slipped over the edge and carried me home to her.

I felt free in my fear, my destiny awaited as she screamed below me. The scream grew louder and louder and I as drifted closer and closer, I closed my eyes before the impact knowing we would become one again.

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Carl Scharwath has appeared globally with 170+ journals selecting his poetry, short stories, interviews, essays, plays or art. He has published three poetry books.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

One reply on “Flash Fiction: The Husband on the Roof”

Wow I didn’t expect that ending. Held me spell bound throughout! Its sad when marriages fall apart after so many years. I Couldn’t decide if she was already dead and just an illusion? Guess its left up to me as a reader to ponder on. Great story..

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