2nd Place – May 2018

      The Breakup

      By Cherie Fruehan


            Lace sheers billowed in the soft breeze shushing through the apartment’s open window. The patter of car tires could be heard from the street below as autos shuttled eager suitors and their bashful dates on a Saturday night. It was nine in the evening. Carol sat alone, in the dark, her face awash in the glow of her iPhone, as she messaged Jeremy. Breaking up was never easy to do.
            “Look, I just need to move on. I’m so sorry,” she typed, suddenly feeling disloyal. Earlier in the day she was certain she made the right choice. She had been mulling over her decision for weeks.
            “But it’s been twelve years, Carol, how can you leave after all that time?”
            “I hate to sound cold, but I’m just ready for a change,” she confessed.
            “Can I call?” he asked. His three typed words sounded so desperate to her. Carol wasn’t sure she was up for a phone call, but she reluctantly agreed.
            Maybe she just wanted to hear Jeremy’s voice. She would soon enough as the phone immediately rang. She pressed the green button, accepting the call.
            “Hello, Carol?”
            “Hey, Jeremy.”
            “Hey,” he paused slightly, “I just don’t understand.” His confusion was palpable.
            “I’m not asking you to understand, Jeremy.”
            Jeremy was nice enough. He was patient and kind. But Carol knew there were just some things about her he would never understand.
            “Twelve years, Carol,” he repeated. “A lot of great memories. I’m looking back on them now.”
            Why was he doing this to her? Yes, it had been twelve years. Carol couldn’t believe it herself, how time had flown by so quickly. “Yes, Jeremy, there have been some amazing memories.”
            Jeremy proceeded to list them. “The five star dinner reservations, and the flights to far off places…” his voice drifted off. Was he trying to imagine the scenes?
            “Good times,” she said. “But, it’s just not enough.”
            “Remember the Pink concert?” he asked. “The awesome front row seats?” “I do.” She thought back on how the sweat from Pink’s body actually rained on her as the artist spun from the harness above the stage. “Those were really great seats.” She considered herself fortunate to have had such an experience.
            “You would never have gotten those seats without my help.” Jeremy tried to sound confident but, to Carol, it was a bit arrogant, bringing her back to the reason for leaving in the first place.
            “Jeremy, I am grateful for each of the five star reservations, and the flights, and the concert tickets.” Carol knew he couldn’t buy her loyalty. “But I have made up my mind, and I just want to end it.”
            “Are you sure, Carol? Are you really sure this is what you want to do?” Jeremy tried one more time to convince Carol otherwise.
            “I’m sure,” she replied with confidence. Certain, once and for all, she was making the right choice.
            “Very well then,” Jeremy conceded. “I will close your account. You can cut up your credit card. Thank you for being a loyal member of American Express. If there is anything more we can do for you, you can find us online.”
            Carol quickly hung up the phone without saying goodbye. She knew if she stayed on the line, Jeremy would try to bribe her with added extras. She spent the rest of her evening sipping a nice red blend as she shopped online, with her new Citibank credit card. She had twenty-four hours left to earn triple points and a free tote.


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