Chapter 1: Transition
‘Well, this fucking sucks’ — the thought reverberated through my head as I pulled over to the side of the highway, with a flat tire. A sigh of exasperation pushed through my mouth, as I stopped the car. This sigh represented all the exhaustion, all the turmoil, all the upheaval that had been the story of my life over the last seven months. The flat tire was just the icing on the shit cake I had been served since finding out she left me for her old high school boyfriend. Undoing the seatbelt and opening the door in a single motion, I got out and walked to the back of the car. As I opened the hatch to get the jack and spare tire out, I felt the rendition of the memory of that night intruding, as if to reinforce the frustration of the damned tire…
Almost like a scary dream, the evening was dreary and cold when I pulled into our driveway. I wondered if I really wanted to find out what she wanted to discuss. Her earlier phone call had been vaguely ominous and the night greatly reinforced that sentiment as thunder crackled. I grabbed my jacket as I walked to the front entrance of the house we had bought over 10 years ago. We had not been very intimate with one another in a long time and our conversations were so mundane, they seemed to occur as a mere formality. I assumed she wanted to discuss the future of our marriage, but I had no idea she had already made that decision…
I had finished jacking the car up at this point and was removing the lug nuts of the tire. “Damned nail!” I exclaimed, as if I had any control over what existed on the highway. I knew it was a pipe dream, but after the divorce decree in court earlier today, it just felt like something should go my way at this point. I pulled the flat tire off, and began to put the spare on. I had assumed I could just take the car to the tire shop, since my exit was just a couple of miles away, but as I looked up and noticed the sky beginning to show signs of the sun lowering, I thought again. It was fall and the days were getting shorter, but maybe I could make it to the tire shop before it closed for the evening. Hopefully, I would be able to find someone to give me a ride home. It was difficult living in a new city and not knowing too many people, but Sara had always been a good friend and I’m sure I could call her for a ride. I wasn’t too close to my neighbors, but they would probably help, if I asked. I didn’t really know anyone here, so Sara and her boyfriend Max had been great support. I was happy that I took Sara’s suggestion to move to Seattle after the break-up.
The break-up. Calling it that, seemed to make it something concrete, something I could just shove in the trash, but my mind kept going back to that night. Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s final now; the legal decree saying what it does brings me back to that night…
I opened the door and her suitcase and purse were sitting in the hallway, waiting for her to pick them up. I called out, “Where are you?” and she responded to me, “I’m in the dining room, Shawn.” I walked to the entrance of the dining room from the hallway and went in and found her sitting down with a glass of wine and looking solemn. Her red hair, perfectly styled as always, was draped across her shoulders. It looked like she had not been home long, since she was still wearing the dress suit I bought her this previous Christmas. Her jewelry all seemed to be in order, except she was not wearing her wedding ring. ‘Is this it?’ I thought to myself as I pulled the chair out across from her and sat down.
She raised her eyes from her glass of wine, which was stained with the remnants of her favorite shade of pink lipstick where she had sipped. “Where’s your car?” I asked, realizing I did not see it in the driveway. “It’s at the office. I left it there and took a taxi home, because I met Greg for dinner after work,” she said and looked down again. ‘So, she’s still seeing Greg? I should have assumed,’ I thought to myself as she began to speak again. “Look, I told you we needed to talk and I have to be honest – I’ve fallen in love with Greg again…” She looked me in the eyes, almost as if she was accusing me for not being the object of her affections and love…
I tightened the last lug nut on the spare and quickly threw the jack and damaged tire into the hatch of the car. “Crap! I gotta hurry and get to the tire shop before they close,” I said under my breath. I knew I would have to leave my car overnight and pick it up when they were finished.
After I climbed back into the driver’s seat and pulled back onto the highway, I asked Siri, from my iPhone, to call Sara. I only had a couple miles to go to get to the exit for the tire shop. She answered and I told her what happened with the tire and asked if there was any way she could pick me up on her way home from the hospital where she worked.
“Of course, but did you forget we had plans tonight, goof?” she replied.
“Um…yes, I did forget. I’m sorry, today has just been a little stressful. Any chance we can re-schedule?” I requested, feeling like all I wanted to do was go back to my apartment and enjoy a beer with some dinner after the day I’d had.
“No! Absolutely not! You’re starting a new life Mister, and I will NOT have my best friend sitting at home in the dark and drinking a beer all alone! We’re going to celebrate, because you have been miserable too long!” Sara declared, obviously irritated with me.
I chuckled and said, “Fine, but there will be no-setting me up with anyone like the last one you attempted. I’m scarred for life, thanks to your terrifying match-making skills!”
“You’re the one that said you wanted some excitement!” Sara said defensively. “How was I supposed to know she was like that? Look, I’m almost there, maybe five more minutes. Get ready for a New life buddy!”
“A new life, huh?” I asked.
“Yes, Shawn, it is time you started a new life and I’m going to make sure you do it!” she said almost gleefully.
“Fine, a new life it is!” I said, as I turned into the parking lot of the tire shop and the last ray of sun disappeared over the horizon. I hung up the phone and smiled at the idea of a new life.
For the next chapter, click Chapter 2