Flip for it

Monday, July 8, 2013 3:44 PM By crosswaysnet , In


WRITERS DIGEST "Your Story Competition #51.


Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following line of dialogue: “Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”


*****

Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”

Bill observed the silver dollar through rheumy eyes. The 1899 Lady L stared blankly off to his left, betraying none of her feelings. The only hint, her lips - slightly taciturn, maybe disapproving. Still, she didn't argue or object. A stoic, unwilling to face him. A face that would decide Bill's fate, whether she cared or not.

The skirt across the table from him was much more lively. Practically dancing in anticipation of the answer. A betting soul, sure to win.

Not so fast, old girl,” Bill mumbled. “Just because it's come up heads before doesn't mean you get me for good.” He set aside the warm, worn round and picked up the letter, reading it slowly three more times. His companion simply waited, annoying him with that same smirk Bill always resented but couldn't resist.


Bill,

It's time. You really can't put it off any longer. And we don't want to wait, either. It was Dad's last wish, brother, and it's time you dealt with it. I know it hasn't been easy for you. You know Dad didn't mean what he said about Delany last time. You can do this. We'll be here until next Saturday, when Susan needs to leave for Chicago. It won't take long and Father Reilly has already agreed to preside at a little family service. We'll spread Dad's ashes over the lake like he wanted. And when you come, we need all of you – you know what I mean. NO surprises, OK? Just because we weren't there for you when your marriage ended doesn't mean you have to shun us for good. We loved Delany, too.

Love,

Carol.”



Those eyes across the table continued to bore into him as he read. Could he do it? Could he make the leap? Bill wiped his tired eyes.

Carol, Carol... do you know how long it's been? You have no idea how it hurt me. Look where I am now.”

Those blazing, smiling dancing eyes across the table hadn't changed in the time Bill had fallen for them, still youthful and lively as the day they'd met. He knew his own had lost the gleam years ago. He knew what those younger eyes saw, and refused to admit. The unspoken accusation hung heavy in the air.

I know you think it's not your fault,” Bill began. He pushed at the small trickle making its way down his stubbled lip. “Perhaps not. But damn you, anyway. You get me in trouble every time. So – you still want to get married?”

Bill stared across the table, not really expecting an answer. He already knew what it was.

If I go alone, I've got to face them, alone. Don't think I can do that. It has always been ugly, and they won't be able to keep their mouths shut about everything I've ever done wrong – everything they hate about me. I'll say something stupid – again. And it'll be the last time. Forever. I'm never going through that family hell again.”

Bill could sense his partner didn't know how to respond.

If I go with you, we really are married for good. Father Reilly will see to it that everyone knows. I won't be able to hide you any longer. Susan and Carol won't be able to ignore you anymore. I'll be stuck with you and you won't care. Hell of a marriage, Bill. No better than the last one...”

As the tears started to flow he knew what a lie that was. His wife had always been better than this. All the bitterness couldn't banish the memory of Delany's cheek, always soft against his younger stubble. The smell of coffee kisses and a warm neck pressed against his nose. Before the bitch across the table stole him away. This one never left. At least not for long. Bill flung the snot from his face and picked up the silver coin again.

So – they want me there to read Dad's will. What about you? You still want to get married? Heads you win – tails I...”

Bill's right hand flipped the coin up. He stared hard at the eyes on the bottle of Dewars White Label – those blazing blues over that swishing kilt. A flash of silver came between them. The coin clattered and began its whirling spiral down. Bill continued his staring contest.


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