New short-longish story. The first two chapters.
Kenny was fucking stressed. He sat in the train wishing he had just killed himself as planned, but that bitch of a monitor sat across from him constantly asking questions without moving a muscle like he was her son or something. The sun was a bright orange color, on her way out for the day. Apron thrown over her shoulder, she sank down into the horizon. Kenny tried not to look around or make contact with any of the other passengers. He was pretty sure he looked like shit. There was no getting ready this morning. No wash basin in his room. Or toilet. Just a bed, blaring alarm, and some slippers. The monitor walked him outside and pushed a ticket into his hand. Finally, an end to her gazing.
No one told him where he was going, or who to talk to once he got there. At this point, it didn’t matter. He hadn’t slept in days. May not sleep anymore. Every time he closed his eyes, it was there waiting for him. More menacing than a plate of cold green peas that your mom was harassing you to eat before you could get up from the table. As the train droned on, Kenny looked up, inwardly hoping that no one would make eye contact with him. Thankfully, no one did. Most people were facing the opposite direction. The ones who weren’t must have been reading books, because their eyes were glued to their laps.
He wanted to avoid people at all costs.
Kenny took out his own book, and as he brought it to his face, he remembered that he hadn’t brushed his teeth for the day. “Bad breath might come in handy,” he thought. His copy of Native Son was in perfect condition aside from the brown clouds of dried blood on the back. No one in his present company would care. He didn’t either. This was his truth, and if his grandma was right, then God would forgive him and let him into heaven with the rest of the sinners. He had made a mistake. Nothing new under the sun, right? David, Cain, Moses. He was in good company.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before starting at the first page yet again. Native Son was his favorite book, and now his only book, so he was looking forward to reading it. Nothing else to do on this train to nowhere. The windows were blacked out, so even if Kenny cared to know where he was being carted off to, there were no clues/indicators. The words on the page floated across his mind, but he wasn’t reading them. All he could see was her. Her floppy body across the bed with bruises on her arms, and knots on her forehead. The lips he used to play a million games with were swollen and purple. And it was because of him.
When Kenny walked into Daphne’s house that day, he didn’t know what he was going to say. Everyone had been talking about them. They knew she was seeing someone new, and that she had been showing up to different events wearing these huge dark glasses, hiding her perfect almond shaped eyes that rose even higher on the corners when she smiled, although she hadn’t been doing too much of that lately. He wanted to talk to her. That’s it. Make sure she was okay. They had been divorced now for a few months, and didn’t really talk much, but he thought that in some way, he was still responsible for her. Her entire family was in Phoenix, and they didn’t come see her very much, because they were still bitter about the move, especially her mother. She thought Kenny and Daphne were to young to be married, let alone move across the country together without any support. He almost called her when people started telling him that Daphne was in trouble, but he decided against it, and just went to see if he could get a better read of the situation. Kenny knew there was a great chance Daphne would just think he was coming to get her back. She was slightly right about that.
Kenny put his tongue up in front of his teeth and licked his lips before knocking on the door. Her car was outside, but he didn’t hear any stirring behind the door. Maybe she was asleep. He turned around to make sure no one from the neighborhood saw him. The street was clear. Almost strangely quiet. Usually there were kids riding up and down the street. They had been renting the house for a couple years before the split, and most times there was something going on. Since the house was at the end of the street, bikes and scooters topped with eager youngsters were a common occurrence. Not today. Just wind whistling.
Kenny knocked a second time. Nothing. He shifted his weight from right to left, and reached into his pocket for his cell phone. He went to his favorites, and hit “X.” Daphne’s line rang a few times before going to voicemail. Kenny turned around to look at the street again. Nothing. He put his hand on the doorknob and turned it. The door was open. His hands immediately began to sweat, but he pushed the door and went inside. He closed the door behind him. He had a right to be there. She was his wife. Ex-wife. If that even means anything. According to Corinthians, that is the only wife that God will recognize, if you ask Auntie Jackie.
Kenny felt a little strange being back in the house he used to share with Daphne. He called out to her.
He thought he should just go. Maybe she went somewhere with a friend. Just because her car was there didn’t actually mean that she was at home. His inner man told him to go. He didn’t. He walked to the bedroom, and that is where he saw her. And him.
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