I said I might have something new for the blog around this time and I found and oldie I wrote somewhere around 2000-2001. A group of us all wrote stories with the same title, “Keepsakes”. I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but I think it was one of my first stories after “Night of the Loving Dead”. There’s an story that goes along with that one I’ll share sometime about the whole submission process and the ensuing 9 month waiting game with Cemetery Dance, but just enjoy this first part for now and the second part will be up sometime later today- let’s say… 8:30ish?
George sat and stared at that stupid potted plant. He plucked his thumb out of his mouth and fresh beads of red immediately sprouted up. The pain was unbelievable when he’d tried to pull that thing from the windowsill.
He stood and approached it, tentatively, wondering how it had rooted to that one spot. Carol would have enjoyed seeing this. Running off the way she had, she hadn’t meant to do anything but hurt him. She was always so selfish.
George had gotten his revenge, though. Carol had left everything behind. Her clothes, jewelry, her cat, Gus- everything. He’d taken his time, destroying it all. George relished the pain of Gus’ claws raking his arms for the last time right before he’d gone into the dishwasher. The platinum pendant went on top of the pyre of her clothes he’d set fire to in an abandoned parking lot.
“Friggin’ Robby Keller,” he muttered to himself as he examined the potted plant. “What he have I don’t?” There were tiny razor thin barbs edging all the way around the saucer underneath the pot. George sucked on his thumb again, carefully circling his other hand around the top of the pot. Those barbs had hurt so much he’d stumbled over his own feet trying to get away from them.
“‘He listens to me’,” George mocked. “‘He cares about me as a person.'” He tugged on the pot but it didn’t budge.
“What the hell?” he said. He gave it two more tugs, wrapping his wounded hand around the other and put his knee onto the cabinet face for leverage.
The plant had been his special project. He’d been ready to chuck it as far as he could when he decided to do something different. Instead, he poured everything in it he could find. Bleach, mouthwash, spoiled milk and beer when he was home alone drunk- anything, so long as it wasn’t water.
The damn thing hadn’t died, though. It didn’t grow, either. It was always looking like it was ready to bud, but that was exactly how it looked the day Carol had brought it home.
“What is it?” he asked her, annoyed.
“I don’t know, but it’s exotic!” she said, looking excited. Carol was always into ‘exotic’. That’s why George had to waste so much money on jewelry. She was so inconsiderate she’d even waited until he’d slipped the engagement ring on her finger before telling him no. Before telling him she was leaving him for Robby Keller. He could take care of her the way she deserved to be taken care of, she’d said. He knew how to treat a woman, she’d said. He was a real man, she’d said. Her bags were already packed- when George had seen them he had assumed she was going to visit her mother again.
The things she’d said to him then. George knew he wasn’t the brightest man or the best looking, but he didn’t deserve how she’d made him feel. He didn’t even want to think the words she’d said, they burned him so.
George was aware of his imposing size, his mother always said how he had to be careful with people and Carol being as small as she was, he knew better, but… there’s only so far a guy could be pushed. He immediately regretted it after, wanted to run after her when she fled the room, but was too afraid of what he might still do.
He heard her screaming and knocking around in the kitchen, probably destroying it, but as soon as the anger rose up in him to run downstairs he would see that wounded face again. He couldn’t take that face again. George sat and began to weep.
It wasn’t long before the noise stopped. George didn’t have his watch on, but he didn’t think it’d been that long, anyway. He could have blacked out for a little while. He did that sometimes when he got angry.
“Carol?” he called. “Carol?” He crept downstairs, afraid to face her. “Carol, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I understand if you want to leave me.” He didn’t understand, but you were supposed to say stuff like that to get people to forgive you.
Of course, she was gone.