At the End of the World, Be Sure to Pick Up Some Milk

Sometimes a phrase gets stuck in your head and you ponder on it. In this case, the phrase was something that my husband says, ‘the sacrificial male’. The story was born from taking that phrase literally.

suburbiaToo Late
by Casie Blevins
Word count: 1628

Dave Lindy survived. That was the good news.

The bad news?

He was too late to fix all of the wrongs in his marriage.

 

Dave shuffled around his kitchen, filling a bowl with some of her leftover Cheerios. It was the best he could do for dinner without her; she’d always been the cook. He’d had to use a can of evaporated milk, because there was no more milk. Or ever would be again as far as Dave was concerned. He didn’t have a cow in the backyard after all. He glanced out the window  squinting in the evening light.  The grass, once a point of pride to him, was now long and weedy but it didn’t matter anymore. He scooped his dinner off the counter, running his finger around the rim of the bowl, shifting the bowl around to look at it–it was hers, her favorite. The one with the Santa face on the side of it that he’d put in her stocking their first Christmas together. He’d meant it as a gag gift but she’d ended up loving it, had used it every morning of the last fifteen or so years. He plopped a spoon into the middle of it, winced at the loud clang, gave a loud sigh then made his way down to the basement.

The room was spectacular, their favorite place and had been their final project together. Carpeted, the walls painted a burgundy red, they had just hung the last of the old monster movie posters on the wall, the final step in their movie room when the world had gone to shit. It wasn’t three days later that old Mr. Cafferty next door had died, and the rest of the block had soon followed. The rest of the whole world for all Dave knew, when he’d last called his parents they hadn’t picked up. The streets of his neighborhood hadn’t produced a car in at least four days. It would just figure that at the end of it all, when after he’d had a change of heart, there was no one left to talk to.

Except Lindsay.

 

He sat down on the newly unwrapped sofa–beige leather, Lindsay’s choice, not his and stretched out his legs in front of him. His cereal bowl set nicely on his round belly, inches from his mouth. He began spooning it into his mouth with one hand and with the other grabbed the remote.

Just another night in the Lindy household.

So far Netflix still worked and he flipped through the screen to the latest of one of their favorite shows. He and Lindsay were half way through the season.

“How’s that, Linds? Wanna watch another House of Cards? Huh?”

Part of him felt awkward talking like this, he wasn’t a big talker, more like the silent, morose type. Lindsay had been the big talker. He never liked a lot of foolish talk, thought it was a waste of time. He was a doer, not a talker. If it was worth doing, do it, he always said, don’t just natter on about it.

He sighed.

“Or we could watch something else. A documentary? A movie?”

He didn’t look at her, couldn’t bear to look at her. Looking at her made it real. She didn’t answer him but he could feel, rather than see her movements. Hard choppy movements.

He’d never let her pick out the show before, preferring to take control of that particular duty himself. She hadn’t minded, really. She’d joked that it was one of his man of the house duties. Even if they didn’t have children, she said, he was still King of the Castle. Lindsay had always deferred to him. She said that she didn’t care so much about that stuff but sometimes he’d wondered. A twitch in her eye, stiff posture, belied otherwise. These were the silent words of Lindsay. He’d always made all of the decisions, big and little, all the day to day stuff. If he were to admit it, he was kind of a my way or the highway kind of guy. But she’d married him, right? She’d known who he was from the beginning.

Nowadays he couldn’t seem to make a decision. His mother, the psychologist, would have a field day with that one, he knew. Good thing she wasn’t around to berate him about it.

Lindsay had wanted to leave for the country, but he’d said no, they’d ride it out at home.

“How about Top Gun, huh? You always had a thing for that Tom Cruise guy.” He snuck a glance at her direction. She sat swaying in her matching beige leather chair.  He didn’t look at her eyes. “Yeah, let’s go with Top Gun tonight.”

I’m tired of it, but as long as you like it, he thought.

He’d long since finished his bowl of cheerios when the credits rolled. He scooped his bowl off the coffee table, and headed upstairs.

“I’ll do the dishes tonight, Linds. Don’t worry about it, okay?”

He didn’t get a response, hadn’t expected one. Doing dishes was her job, but what the heck? He could help out. He washed the single bowl and spoon along with the single fork and plate from his mishmash of lunch, wondering all the while how long he would have hot water. So far, so good, but who knew about tomorrow. Who knew about anything anymore?

Afterwards, he went to bed, being sure to lock the basement door before heading upstairs. The lock was new and turned stiffly in his hand. Pausing inside his bedroom, he locked the bedroom door too, just in case.key-in-door

 

He and Lindsay had met in college their junior year. They’d gone on a few dates before she’d thought to ask his last name and when he’d told her, she’d laughed herself so silly he’d felt hurt, then angry. At least until she’d clarified by saying, “Lindsay Lindy. That’s a riot.”

That’s when the heat of anger had exploded into the heat of love. They’d gone to bed together that night, and the rest as they say, was history. Dave and Lindsay, an unconquerable pair.

They’d married, started their lives together in another city, failed to produce any kids, and finally settled by buying this too-large house just for themselves. Two thirty-somethings filling their lives with stuff instead of babies. Silence, instead of the noise of laughter.

It could have been worse.

 

Dave got up the next morning and headed straight for the basement, skipping a shower, skipping breakfast, even skipping putting his clothes on. HIs belly protruded over his pajama bottoms, his feet were bare. He’d woken from a dream about Lindsay and he just wanted to be in her presence. He ached, empty and sick and tears dried on his cheeks, unnoticed. He found he needed her right away, maybe even desperately.

“Linds, Lindsay, I was just thinking–” He stopped on the stairs suddenly, the room was too still. “Linds?” Then a shuffling and scraping sound and he breathed a deep sigh of relief. “So, I thought maybe I could read one of your magazines to you. One came for you last week.” It had been more like three weeks since the last mail delivery but Lindsay didn’t need to know that.

He sat on the couch in his spot, reading the magazine from cover to cover to his wife who had remained in her spot. He read the style articles, lifting the pages to show her the pictures. He read articles on nutrition, celebrities, exercises guaranteed to promote better sex. When finally he closed the cover, he sat with her for a few hours more not heeding his aching empty stomach, just talking.

“I always liked your mom, she was such a fiery lady. Not like my own mother. I know she meant well, well, I guess she did–

“Do you remember the first time we watched Netflix. I mean, it was crazy how cool that was to us. We couldn’t get enough–

“I wish that we had actually travelled to Australia. I can’t even remember anymore why we didn’t–

“I wish I’d let you get that dog. Remember that little white pup? You loved it so much, right away. I was so stubborn. I don’t even know why, Linds. It was so stupid–

“I wish things had been better. You know? Little stuff I could have done–”

Never once did he look in her direction while he bared his soul.

Finally, when every last word had left his lips, every last thought had left his mind, only then did he turn to her and look her in her agitated feral yellow eyes, at her snapping teeth, and clawing hands. The rope loosely wound around her torso and her chair, pinioning her in place..

“I love you, Lindsay,” he mouthed and then leaned forward and pulled the drawer out from the coffee table.  “I give myself to you. For always and ever.”

He pulled out the pistol, cocked it, checked that the safety was off and then got down on his knees in front of her, just out of her reach. He looked at her one last time, trying to see the beautiful woman he had married all those years before. “Always and forever,” he whispered then took one deep breath, set the pistol to the back of his neck and pulled the trigger.

The gun blasted in the silent room, spraying his blood all over his wife and his naked body fell forward into her lap. Within reach at last, she feasted on his flesh, her hands clawing at the remains of his face, her teeth gnashing and in this there was something like joy on her face.rings oad

 

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