Short Story The Waiting
Art Photo by Savatore Vuono
waits for him as she twists her wedding ring up and down her finger. She wants to try one more time for her family, one more time for her youth slipping away.
She look at the town—bars in place of department stores, run down apartments, where lovers conceive when their cable televisions are shut off for non-payment.
She paces, squinting at the sluggish fog moving towards her, its gray paws licking at her tear-parched eyes, her sweaty palms and tingling toes pained with each movement she takes. She looks down at the cracked pavement, trying not to trip as she listens for his footsteps. His footsteps still excite her.
He is supposed to meet her here in front of the theater, with its old movie posters hanging sideways in haphazard dilapidation. She remembers going to the show with him, her hands clasped in his, their heat blocking the movie from their back row, as they surrendered to flaming skin meltdowns, the same flames that erupted into explosive heat-searing fights, jealousy, agonizing jealousy.
He is still hers –he is still her claim to his family –his sisters, his mother, his nephews and nieces. Losing him will be a torn link breaking ties, wounding their confused children, betraying her family.
She can, she must, let the past go.
She hears the roar of a bus moving towards her. She sees the destination in large lit up lights above the driver’s window. Los Angeles. Sunshine, beaches, movie stars. As she looks up, she sees him waving to her.
She runs after the bus. She screams for him. The bus lurches into lower gear and slows down, as it turns a corner. She knows what is around the turn. The road leading out of town, no stops, no gas stations for miles –only a highway like a long, thin needle pointing towards distant hills and cactus. She knows she cannot catch him. Stretches of empty miles will free him from chains of whatever it is –that makes him leave.
He will pass by dirt roads where they went for evening picnics and all night lovemaking. He will pass the racetrack where she sat on bleachers watching breathlessly, as he raced heroically in dust-defying figure eights. Later, he will pass the Desert Inn where they spent their honeymoon.
She stops. She gathers her strength. She thinks of what she will tell their children. He went to another job. Like the other make-believe jobs he went on, while she crawls on her knees cleaning their neighbors’ floors.
She turns and walks towards home, the dismal trailer he promised to make repairs on—broken screens, faulty plumbing, broken latches, broken lives. He, the father of her sister’s baby nesting in the womb, he the albatross taking flight. She, the peacemaker gone astray, cease fire over again.