This week’s flash fiction challenge at Terrible Minds was to click “shuffle” on your music player and use the song name as your title (and possibly as inspiration) for your story. 1000 words, as usual. I got All Apologies by Nirvana. So, I hope you enjoy!
The sky resembled a bruise; black, navy, and purple, with just a hint of green lining the lower clouds. They’d been issuing tornado warnings on the radio all afternoon.
A low rumble of thunder rolled in from the north, growing as it drew nearer. The growl that it became swallowed Dane on all sides, pressing against him as forcefully as the humid air.
He ducked back inside.
Only one beer, a tall boy of Alexander Keith’s, sat chilling in the fridge. He grabbed it. He would need it for what he planned to do. The can began to condensate at once, drops trickling down the sides like tears or rain on a window pane. He popped the tab and took a swig. The ale was better than it had ever tasted, possibly because the flavour complimented that of the adrenaline that was surging through him.
Clutching the can, Dane slipped on his shoes and grabbed his keys. If it were possible, the air seemed to have grown more pressurized in the two minutes he had been inside. This made it slightly difficult to breathe. Or maybe that was just his common sense waking up.
“Casey!” Dane called as he stepped out onto the deck. The golden retriever, who had been sniffing around in the garden, dashed to his side, expecting a hearty rub. Dane obliged as he traipsed across the driveway to the drive shed.
A bolt of lightning stretched across the sky some distance to the south. Dane tensed in anticipation of the resulting sound waves. The crack didn’t come until the keys were in the lock.
For now, Casey did not seem to be afraid of the storm. He was young, hadn’t weathered many, but Dane knew that he could not leave the dog inside on its own, or it would panic. He did not like the alternative, but his options were limited.
Just inside the shop door leaned a folding lawn chair. He grabbed it, turned back around, and, juggling his keys, the beer, and the chair, managed to lock the door again.
Casey looked up at him with curious eyes.
“It’s okay, buddy. This is the only way.”
The driveway seemed longer than usual. Casey trailed him closely.
The sky was beginning to light up in all directions and, if possible, seemed to grow darker. The wind was beginning to pick up, just enough to cause a rustle in the leaves of the two maples at the end of the driveway.
Dane crossed the front lawn and opened the chair, then sat down next to the rusted flag pole that he had been meaning to take down for three years. Now he was glad he hadn’t. He glanced at his watch. Five minutes.
His heart thundered as he sat in that chair, Casey by his side, and watched the sky. The storm was almost overhead. When tires crunched on gravel and headlights come into view, the first drops of rain began to spatter his face. The beer was almost gone.
By the time the car pulled into the driveway, the rain was coming down in sheets. Casey ran back to the house to cower on the front porch, out of the elements.
The car stopped mid-driveway, the squeak of its breaks audible even above the storm. The driver’s door clicked open and light poured from the vehicle from behind a silhouette.
“Dane?” she called. Her voice was a godsend. Now, everything could be okay again. It would have to be.
Dane didn’t reply, but instead stared at the sky.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
He could hear her coming towards him, but he had to hold firm.
“Dane! I said what the hell are you doing here?” She shook his shoulders.
Now he turned to look at Jill. “Sorry. This was the only way to get your attention.”
“You’re insane! What are you thinking?”
“You won’t let me tell you how sorry I am, so what else am I supposed to do? Without you, I don’t want to live.”
“Don’t dare lay that pressure on me, Dane!” A crack of thunder. Now Jill shouted, “How can I forgive you after what you’ve done?” Her beautiful dark blonde hair was matted to her face now, and she glanced warily up at the sky. “This is dangerous! You could be killed!”
“So could you if you keep standing here,” Dane replied. “We have to go inside and talk.”
“There’s nothing to talk about!” Jill cried. “You lied to me for three months about having lost your job! We’re on the verge of losing our house and you didn’t even tell me! And you still pretended to go to work!”
“What self-respecting man wants to tell his wife he’s been laid off when he has not only her to support but a baby on the way? Huh?”
“I can support myself, Dane, at least for a little while! We would have been okay if you had just gone out looking—”
“I was looking for jobs! When you left for work, I’d come back home and send out resumes. I didn’t have the heart to tell you! I love you too much to hurt you. Don’t you get it? How many times do I have to apologize?”
Jill dropped her arms to her side, defeated. “All these apologies don’t make up for lying to your wife, Dane. You can tell me anything! I married you because I loved you, not because you were my meal ticket!”
The rain pelting Dane’s face was beginning to sting, no doubt biting that precious skin of his wife’s face was well. “Let me inside. I can’t live without you. I want to make this right, even if it means groveling for a hundred years.”
Jill shielded her face from the rain with her hand and sighed. Another crack of thunder caused them both to jump. “Fine,” she shouted. “Come inside and we’ll talk.”
Fifteen seconds later, as they stepped onto the front porch, a bolt of lightning struck the flag pole.
© Lindsay Mawson 2012