A Kaleidoscope & Mirror, Both Darkened | {story#3}

This is an original fiction piece written for StoryADay September. Read more & follow here.

Yes, I am.


I am.


Karen. From the office.

How long?

To what degree?

To what degree?” What the hell is that supposed to mean?

I mean, “How long since what?” Since it became physical? Since we started talking? Since the idea popped in my head? Since I contemplated opening myself up to the possibility in the first place? To what degree are you referring when you ask me “how long”?

Why are you talking so calmly about this?

Because we’re adults.

No, “we” are not.

* * * * * * * *

I do.

I do.

I now pronounce you…

I can’t believe we made it.

We definitely made it through some shit.

But now we’re here.

We’re here.

Just you and me.

I couldn’t be happier.

Me neither.

I love you.

Right back at you.

* * * * * * * *

Did you pick him up?


What about the laundry?


You wrote up the list, like I asked you?


You picked up your underwear off the floor like I asked you to this morning, right?

I think so.

What do you mean, “you think so”?

Yes, yes, I did.

And you called the plumber? You called the plumber, right?

I can do it right now.

What? I asked you to do that! You knew how important that was to me; how difficult it has been to use the boys’ bathroom down the hall. Why would you do that to me?

I wasn’t thinking-

Yes, yes, I know. You weren’t thinking.

* * * * * * * *

I love it when you make that face at me. I didn’t know your face could contort like that.

You know, before we were married, I only made this face in the mirror when I was alone in the bathroom.

Doesn’t surprise me. I’d keep that goofy look to myself as well!

Haha. (Bitch.) God, I’ve never felt more comfortable with anyone. You’re my best friend, you know that, right?

Of course I do. I couldn’t imagine life next to anyone else.

* * * * * * * *

So, you take all the girls here, right?

No, not really. Robert told me about this spot a few days ago when I was trying to figure out where to take you.

Really? You asked around?

Yeah. I wanted to impress you.

It really is beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here. Wait. I just remembered. Did you wash your hands when you went to the bathroom at the restaurant?

Uh… Yeah, I think so. I don’t know why I wouldn’t. Why?

No reason, I’m just a little germ-a-phobic.

* * * * * * * *

God fucking damn it, John. I swear to God I’m staying at my mother’s again this weekend if you don’t fucking say something!

What is there to say?

Oh I don’t know. Maybe how you’re going to stop being the same fuck-up you’ve always been? When you’re going to help raise your children or help your wife or find a better job so you can support your family like the man you claim to be?

I’m trying…

No, you’re not! That’s what you always say! If you were, I’d see some progress; some real, measurable progress. But I don’t. Why would you say something like that?!

Damn it… I don’t know. To say something? It seemed important to you that I say something.

Say something intelligent, you idiot! Holy fuck! Do I have to do all the thinking in this marriage?

* * * * * * * *

Can I tell you something?

Uh… yeah. What?

I kind of like it when you miss shaving a couple of days. I know I complain about the scruff now and then, but honestly, on certain nights, when I look over at you I just want to tear your clothes off.

Good to know…

A little like I’m feeling tonight…

Susan, you know that Thursdays are my early day.

* * * * * * * *

What are we going to do about him? I can’t believe he would do this to us! John, I’m telling you, if we don’t do something about him now, he is going to end up throwing away his life. We can’t let him do that. But what do we do? Boarding school? Can we afford it? We need to. But what can we cut back on? I’m sure other mothers feel the same way about their troubled children. They also send their kids to those places. What if Christopher goes there and winds up spending time with real troubled kids? Would we be sending him into even more bad influences? What else can we do? He hasn’t been to school in weeks. He’s failing all of his classes. What do we do? John?

I don’t know.

Well, what’s the next step? Boarding school? Another meeting with his teachers? Sitting him down? Threatening him? What would we threaten him with? What could we take away? If we ground him, he would just leave anyway. What would make a boy that willing to just defy his parents. We weren’t like that growing up, were we, John? I mean, admittedly, they were different times. And our parents raised us differently. Oh God, is this all my fault? Did I raise him like this? Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. This is my fault. I can’t fucking believe it. I did this to him. How could I do that to my son? What could I have done differently? Was I ready for a child in the first place? Should we have waited longer? Where did I learn how to parent? I’m certainly not doing it like my mother did (I swore I never would). Although, I turned out okay, right? Well, apparently not, judging by my children. Is this really how this is going to happen? Is he really going to go down this path? How far will he go? At what point is it his fault and not mine? Does it ever stop being my fault? God fucking damn it, John, fucking say something!

… Like what?

Like what you’re thinking? What you’re feeling? Whether you think it’s my fault? If you hate me for making our son like this? What we should do? Anything?

Susan, I genuinely don’t know what you’re looking for.

* * * * * * * *

Guess what I did today?


Well, when I was taking out the trash yesterday (I still can’t believe I did this–you’re going to die! Simply die!), as soon as I got out the door with the trash can, I found myself turning around and locking the door behind me even though I was just rolling the can to the bottom of the driveway and coming right back. I’d even brought the keys with me to get back inside! And I did it all without even thinking!  It was completely automatic. Oh, the things you’ve got me doing now. You’ve trained me well, dear.

* * * * * * * *

You know I won’t divorce you.

I didn’t ask you to.

Did you expect me to?


Why not?

You can’t fail.

* * * * * * * *

Hey, are you awake?

Are you kidding me? I can’t sleep.

Me neither. What’s keeping you up?

The same thing that’s keeping you up.

I know! I can’t believe it’s happening.

We’re just a few hours away.



Are you really going to mean it? You know: every word?

You worried?

No, it’s not that. It’s just a big deal, you know? It’s more than just saying “I love you”. And it’s in front of everyone.

I’ll mean every word–every syllable, even.

What do you think marriage is like? Will we feel any different tomorrow than we do right now?

I don’t know. I’m guessing it’ll at least feel weird. But no, probably not much different that right now.

Really? Not much different? You really think that?

You don’t? What do you think magically changes? I’ll feel the same way about you then as I do now. The only difference will be an extra piece of jewelry for us to wear, an extra piece of paper to sign, and an extra credit card bill to pay each month.

You don’t think that kind of takes the romance out of it?

Honey, you know I don’t get caught up in that stuff. I’m here. I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere. Isn’t that good enough for you?

I guess…



Susan, don’t do that.

Well, I hear you say that and I just start thinking about what it may mean for you to not think this is a big deal. If it’s not a big deal now then how do I know that the marriage itself will be a big deal to you five, ten, twenty years down the line? I don’t want to fail at this. I want us to succeed, and I want to be confident about that as I walk down the aisle in front of everyone. How will I know that if you don’t think something changes after we say those words to each other?

Susan, you can’t “know” anything in this life.

I have to know you’re not going anywhere. I have to.

I’m going to sleep.




* * * * * * * *

It’s really not a big deal to you?

John, I know you love me, and I know I love you.



I mean, I’ve just never known what it would feel like to… I don’t know. Be myself? No, that’s not it. Feel the freedom to be myself? Maybe that’s more right. You’re such a breath of air. I feel like every weight comes off my chest when I’m with you.

I’m glad. Do you think she’ll be mad?


Really? Why wouldn’t she be?

I think she feels more anger about not knowing for sure. It’s the uncertainty that kills her. I actually think she’ll be relieved to know she’s been right all along. Sometimes justification tastes better than anger.

How long do you think she’s known?

Oh, she’s known your smell since the first time.

Really? That long? And she hasn’t said anything? You’re joking.

I’d never lie to you.


Creative Commons License
This work by Paul Burkhart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

One thought on “A Kaleidoscope & Mirror, Both Darkened | {story#3}

  1. Pingback: Just a Minute (StoryADay blog post) | Stories in 5 Minutes

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.