“Why didn’t you come?”
“I had a thing, I told you.”
“A thing! Just a thing… A work thing.”
“A work thing…” His voice trailed off. It was that kind of trailing off that told you that the other person didn’t really believe what you were telling them but were too scared, too tired, or just too disinterested to ask further about. In his case, she knew, it was a kind of disinterest from which there was no coming back: the kind that she had figured out before him. Sure, he seemed to be genuinely disappointed about her missing his performance, but his indignity was all just for show. A talented actor who couldn’t let go of a role he’d played for five long years. He just hadn’t figured it out yet.
She picked up this morning’s newspaper which he had left folded neatly on their breakfast table next to her toast. The entertainment section was on top, a piece about last night’s play at the center. She scanned it. Apparently his interpretation of Sherlock was already being handled as one of the best of the current theatrical season. Just another punch in the gut for her. He hadn’t even bothered to tell her how his performance had gone last night. She had to read about it in the paper. Without a word she flipped to the international politics section.
They spent the next twenty minutes in silence, she eating her toast and reading the paper, he peeling his oranges and staring off into space. This had become more or less the norm during breakfast, him refusing to communicate with her. Without being fully aware of it, she knew, he was trying to drag her into a silent war. It was another one of those things people did when they couldn’t or wouldn’t admit to themselves that they had lost interest in someone: pick a fight, any fight. And this silent, oppressive atmosphere he unwittingly generated was his chosen battleground. But she wouldn’t let herself be dragged into this particular arena. He could forget about that.
She peaked at the clock on the wall from around her paper. He had already started peeling his second orange. Good. Just a few more minutes and she could head out for work. As he tore the orange apart, some of its juice squirted in her direction.
“Could you please be more careful with that? I’d like to not have to change before work again, thank you very much.”
“I’m sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to.”
“Oh, by the way,” she said as she got up, putting aside the paper, “I have to work late again today, so I might just have dinner at work. That okay with you?”
“It is what it is what it is, I guess,” he said and popped a piece of fruit into his mouth.
Context for this piece: Each day of this new year I will be setting aside about half an hour to write a short text, any kind of text. I will use four random prompts generated by an app called Writing Challenge, with five minutes of writing dedicated to each prompt, bringing it up to a total of 20 minutes of writing for each text.
The prompts are marked in bold letters and a full list can be found here:
- Start with a dialogue that begins with the words “Why didn’t you come?”
- Include a newspaper in the plot
- Include the word “war”
- Include “a piece of fruit” in the last sentence