Liz pushed the door open and stepped into the cool silence. The walk, meant to give her some time to regroup and relax, had lasted longer than she’d meant it to.
The house felt empty and still. A quick glance through the kitchen window confirmed that Sam’s car was gone. She knew his suitcase would be gone too, and the empty space in their closet mirrored the void in her heart.
“I love you, Liz, but I don’t know how much longer I can keep trying to prove it!” His words replayed in her head until they squeezed the air out of her lungs.
“I know. I’m sorry,” she whispered the words she wished she’d said, hoping they’d chase away the memory of his frustration, but her stifling fear remained.
She loved him…more than she’d ever thought possible. But it wasn’t enough. Her walls were just too high, too thick, to deeply rooted to be torn down.
Liz knew the distance those walls created hurt him. They’d served a purpose, once—something she’d never thought she’d be able to share with anyone, until him. He’d made her feel safe.
Her fear of losing him, losing the miracle that was his love, would drive him away just like it had this afternoon. She wondered if this business trip would be the one he decided not to come home from.
She sat on the couch and rubbed her arms, chasing a chill that resisted the warm sunlight dancing through the windows. Her words and his repeated in her head, each iteration magnifying the misery that squeezed her heart but wouldn’t let tears fall.
It was instinct that had her turning to the stereo, hoping to drown out both their voices. The yellow sticky note took her by surprise, freezing her hand in midair.
“PUSH PLAY” written in his familiar, blocky hand.
The CD player whirred to life, the first strums of a guitar flowed through the room, and Jimmy Buffett’s husky voice followed.
From the bottom of my heart
Off the coast of Carolina
After one or two false starts
I believe we found our stride
And the walls that won’t come down
We can decorate or climb
Or find some way to get around
‘Cause I’m still on your side
Joy and relief soothed the ache in her heart. The walls weren’t gone, but if he wasn’t giving up, neither was she.
This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write about how a character reacts to music. Jimmy Buffett is one of my all-time favorite artists. I have very diverse musical tastes, but Jimmy is the only person or group I’ve ever waited in line to see live. His music – the lyrics, harmony, everything – can inspire an incredible range of emotions. And, he’s just plain fun. As always, please let me know what you think of this short story in the comments!