Steven Arvide’s day was about to get worse.
It started off with his usual bowl of honey-nut cheerios with banana slices on top. Orange juice and coffee on the side. He felt some pain in the hip that was replaced a year ago. It was irksome, but he could bear it.
He looked across the table and saw Arlene staring into her coffee cup. She was not a pretty woman, but she was very lively for her age. He could have done worse. Careful to get a bite of banana with each spoonful of cereal, Steven sighed. He suspected life could be better, but he had grown accustomed to life as it was.
“Steven,” Arlene said abruptly, looking up from her coffee mug.
“Yes.” He replied. A banana fell from his spoon.
“Steven, I’m leaving you.”
“How long will you be gone?” Steven asked, fishing for the banana he had lost.
“I’m leaving you for good.”
“For good?” he asked. It seemed a strange expression. “Leaving… for good.” Like an oxymoron.
“I’m not happy, Steven. I want to be happy.” Arlene stood up and poured the rest of her coffee, which had grown cold, down the drain.
“Of course you’re happy,” said Steven. “You’re a happy person. That’s one thing I’ve always admired about you.”
“No, Steven. I used to be a happy person. I’m not anymore. At least not with you.”
“What do you mean, not with me?” Steven put his spoon down. His cheerios had grown soggy.
“You’re not a happy person, Steven. You’ve never been happy. You’ve stopped even pursuing happiness. You’ve settled for less. I want more.”
“Where are you going to find more?” he asked, tentatively.
Arlene took a deep breath.
“I didn’t want to tell you this, but I’m moving in with Saul Linford.”
“SAUL LINFORD? That dolt!”
“Saul is not a dolt.”
“How will you live? He has nothing. He lives in an apartment with his daughter. His grandson lives in the basement.”
“If you must know, Saul won the lottery. We’re moving to Vegas. We’re going to pursue happiness while we still can. Unlike you.”
A sharp pain shot from Steven’s hips to his heart. Arlene was right. He was not a happy person. He never had been. He didn’t consider it necessary. Arlene had always been happy enough for the two of them.
“I’d better get dressed.” he said.
“I’m sorry, Steven.” said Arlene.
“You, um… ” He stood up as if to make a pronouncement. Or a plea. Something to convince her to stay. Or, something to bless her on her way. Reaching out to her with one hand, he bowed his head and said –
“I’ll do the dishes.”
* * *
(inspired by a writing prompt from Today’s Authors)