Disheveled and brokenhearted, he looked down at the small box of things in his hands, and choked back the tears welling behind his eyes. These things had for so long filled the office that he was told he must now vacate, after so many years of service and dedication. He knew now that he had underestimated the power of the greed that drove his partner; a greed that had at one point not been so.
It was so beautiful when it all began, he thought to himself. With that, he walked solemnly through those doors for the very last time.
Upon pulling into the dusty gravel drive, he slowly halted the vehicle and contemplated the conversation he would soon have with his wife.
He gazed for a long time at all that lie before him. There was not much, but this, at least, was still his. This could not be ripped from beneath him. He shifted into gear and approached the house. Slowly he walked through the door and greeted his beloved wife, gently kissing her round belly.
After hearing what he had to say, she wept. After a long silence, she spoke.
“Perhaps this could be a healthy change.”
Nearly a week had passed, and he had almost no luck finding a job to stay afloat. After twenty-seven applications he had received a mere four phone calls; one of these was his buddy that managed the gas station down the street, informing him that his request for a gas station points card had been denied and that they had open interviews on Tuesdays.
After hanging up, he sat motionless in that old leather chair by the window, watching the steady rain wash away the topsoil around his wife’s flowerbed. He felt overwhelmingly lost, cast adrift in the tides of life.
When did everything begin to head south? What could I have done differently?
He knew the answer to both, and he knew that what he could have done would not have been the right thing at all. His now ex-partner, who had for so long been his most reliable confidant, had become corrupt with power and greed. Together they had defied all expectations and built something wonderful – and now apart, he thought, they would both watch it crumble. He from afar, and his old friend from within.
One had allowed greed to consume him; the other felt only sorrowful pity.
As young men growing up in a small rural town, nobody ever imagined they would create the kind of change that they did. These two had no experience, no money and no business in the business world. All that they possessed were their fast friendship, a desire for change and an immovable passion to see others flourish.
It had seemed immovable, at least, for the first decade. After several bad deals, the threat of losing more than they could imagine, and the temptation to make even more, something changed in his dear old friend. A deep, incurable lust for more.
Several years and thousands of changed lives later, he noticed a hiccup in the numbers. At first they seemed like simple accounting mistakes; they were negligible, fixable. With time they grew to a point he could no longer ignore.
All of the evidence pointed one direction. Mind racing and heart beating out of his chest, he scrambled to find another solution. There had to be some mistake. Had his partner fallen that far?
After a brief and estranged discussion, each knew they could not change the other’s mind. In pensive silence, he left the board room to gather his things.
As the pounding rain relented, the contrast of the fire crackling in the nearby fireplace drew his attention back to the present. The power within those bright embers, kept in check only by a single layer of brick, had always invoked in him a sense of awe.
Suddenly he noticed her across the room, and their eyes met, a warm smile gracing her lips as she quietly observed. Just to look upon her gave him hope. Together they had already overcome so much. Surely, this would be no different.
She was all that he needed.
If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you reading my short story! I recently started following a blog which posts one word prompts each day, and decided to write a short story, roughly 100 words at a time, using those words. I found this to be very challenging, not knowing what tomorrow’s prompt would be or how to direct the story, but this was a lot of fun to work on and really stretched me.
I hope it was a good read, and I always appreciate feedback. As always;
Much Love and Many Blessings my friends,
Brady J. L. Smith