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Today's Story by Wayne Scheer

I don't hate you. Of course, I don't hate you.

The Long Drive Home

Carol had lain awake the past few nights thinking of ways to tell her new husband that she wasn’t happy. Instead, while driving home from dinner with friends, she just blurted it out.

Jason tightened his grip on the steering wheel. Somewhere in the distance cicadas chirped, making the strained silence inside the car all the more ominous

“What do you mean you’re not happy?” He turned towards his wife and saw a stranger staring back at him, a pretty twenty year-old stranger he had been married to for almost a year. They had spent less time as husband and wife than at planning the wedding.

“What are you unhappy with? Me? Our life?”


“Do I never make you happy?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

He could hear her sniffling, trying to hold back tears.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” After a long silence, he said, “I love you.”

She sighed. “Are you really happy?”

“It depends what you mean by happy?”

“Isn’t that the problem? You should know when you’re happy, shouldn’t you?” This wasn’t where she wanted the conversation to go. The issue wasn’t really happiness. There was something else.

In the distance, Jason saw the headlights from an oncoming car. He turned off his brights and the driver of the other car did the same.

“Well, shouldn’t you?” She shouted.

“Do you mean happy, like laughing at a funny joke–the way we did tonight when Tom told the one about the tightrope walker and the clown? If that’s what you mean, then most of the time I’m not happy. I’m just going through my day.”

” Is that enough for you?”

“Of course it isn’t enough. But we have more than that. We have good moments, too. Don’t we?”

She said nothing.

“Like when we watch TV at night and we just sit next to each other and hold hands. Isn’t that a good moment? Or when I hold you in the morning and kiss you before we get out of bed. Aren’t you happy then?”

“I guess, but…it’s just that–I don’t know. Shouldn’t there be more?”

“Sometimes. Sure. Like when we were hiking at that park, the Nachahooch whatever. You remember? And we found that waterfall. We just held each other without saying a word because we were so glad we saw it together.” He slowed as he went around a bend in the road. “But you can’t expect moments like that all the time.”

“I know we have good times, it’s just…Her voice trailed off.

“Do you hate me? Do you hate our life?” He waited a moment before continuing. “That you’d know, believe me.”

“I don’t hate you. Of course, I don’t hate you.”

He wanted to stop talking, but the words poured out anyway. “Are you so unhappy you want a divorce?”

“No. Maybe. I don’t know.” She tried holding her breath to keep from crying, but it was too late.

Jason slowed the car, looking for a place he could stop, but the driver in a car in back of him flashed his lights. Annoyed, he increased his speed until he could turn off the road safely. Small, unassuming houses with neat front lawns dotted the unassuming street. The gray blinking light from televisions could be seen in some of the houses, but most were dark. It was nearly midnight and Jason felt tired.

He pulled over and put his arm around Carol’s shoulder, kissing her cheek and tasting a salty tear. Somehow, the tear stirred a passion and he kissed her lips with more ardor than either of them had expected.

“No,” she said, pushing at his chest. “It’s always sex with you, isn’t it?”

“What the hell’s wrong with you? It’s not like I was going to jump you.” He stared at her, watching her run her fingers through her hair. “I just want you to know how I feel.” He buckled himself in and U-turned back onto the highway.

“Is that the only way you can show me? Why does it always come to that?” After a long silence, she added, “Maybe I don’t want it as much as I used to. Maybe that’s the problem.”

A traffic light up ahead showed yellow. Jason slowed down. “Don’t you still enjoy it when we…I mean…Don’t you–”

“Of course. We’ve always been good together, especially the sex. I still love you, Jason.” She took a deep breath. “I just don’t want you the way I used to.”

The light changed and he slowed as they neared home. It took a while before he spoke again.

“It’s different once you’re married,” he said. “Things can’t ever be the way they were before. We know each other too much.” He managed a laugh. “You know what I sound like after I eat a bean burrito and I know you snore.”

“I do not.” She raised her head and tightened her lips in mock disdain.

“Before we married, we’d sneak off to make love whenever we could. Now I have to learn to pace myself.” He smiled. “I have to remember we’re in this for the long haul.”

“Long haul? You’re so romantic.” Now she was laughing. “I don’t really want you to pace yourself. I love that you desire me. It’s just that…”


“Last night. When I said I was tired and you–

“I’m sorry, Carol. I really felt bad about that afterwards. But…you look so damn sexy in that pink nightgown. Maybe you need to wear something in flannel.” They both laughed.

She patted his knee as he turned into their driveway. “Is it always going to be like this?”

“Probably,” he answered. “But at least we made it home tonight.” Before he got out of the car, he added, “We need to keep talking.”

Carol wiped her eyes and tried to smile.


Wayne Scheer has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net. He’s published stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments, a collection of flash stories published by Thumbscrews Press, (http://issuu.com/pearnoir/docs/revealing_moments.) Wayne lives in Atlanta with his wife and can be contacted at wvscheer@aol.com.

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