By John Blair
She’s gone and it’s all my fault.
Loneliness is just a word, but it sure can choke you.
A few steps out of the door and my sore eyes are treated to the neighbors’ well tended lawns. I take a few deep breaths and begin my after-dinner stroll.
Having covered two blocks, I take the narrow path leading to the dog park.
I turn around and smile at Tom.
His Labrador bares its teeth and growls at me.
“What’s eating Morder today?”
I’m making sure to keep a good distance from them.
“Strange,” says Tom. “He’s like that with people he doesn’t know. But he knows you.”
“How is everything?”
“Ah, don’t ask. This damn stay-at-home bullshit. I’m taking the dog out early tonight to get away from Susan—and save my sanity.”
“I guess we’re all getting on each other’s nerves these days.”
The truth of what I’ve just said tightens my throat.
Tom figures I want to hear his whole story which I don’t.
“She’s got this new recipe for penne. I ask her to pass the pepper, and she starts screaming. ‘You don’t need to add anything to it. It’s a perfect dish as is.’ I tell you, sometimes I dream about walking out on her and never coming back.”
Morder barks at me and Tom tells him to shut up.
“Listen,” I say, “when the temperature gets too hot, we have to bring it down, right?”
“Next time Susan starts shouting, speak softly to her. Say you’re sorry. Ask her how you can help.”
Now I’m wondering why I didn’t take my own advice. It would certainly have prevented the problems I see ahead for me.
“I never thought about that.”
Tom pats me on the shoulder.
“Thanks, buddy. Say hello to Dianne for me when you get home.”
But I know I won’t.
Once I get home, I’ll have to untie the scarf from around her neck, and dispose of the body.
John Blair is a fiction writer from Toronto, Canada where he teaches high school English. He has written several short stories and two novels. John enjoys hockey and cats.