I rushed to the door with the feverish hope that Aidan had come to whisk me away to a romantic breakfast or something. As I approached the front door, I suddenly became very aware that I had just woke up, which meant he would have seen me with no makeup, my hair messy, and not in the cutest pajamas I owned. I felt tempted to use my magic to make myself appear more appealing, but I worried that if I made him wait too long, he’d lose interest and leave. Ideally, if he ever saw me in the morning, I wanted it to have followed a night of passion, but I decided to take what I could get. I figured that he must have guessed I wouldn’t look my finest at this hour, and I did wish he had given me more warning, but then again, I thought, maybe he didn’t have my number and couldn’t relay any notice. My heart soared just savoring the concept that he couldn’t wait another minute without contacting me, and with that in mind, I took a deep breath and gladly swung the door open…
It was Travis. As quickly as my hopes went up, they deflated even quicker. I felt foolish for making the assumption that I would have the luck of receiving such a sweet gesture! I reminded myself that he got a nighttime text from another woman and that he probably orchestrated the chain of murders in a grim effort to express his anti-human tendencies, and even though it disappointed me, I assured myself that I was better off not hearing from him. Once I pushed that notion aside, I wondered why Travis had come, and it irritated me that he woke me up for a, most likely, nonsensical reason. “What do you want?”
“Have you seen my bike?” he queried.
“Why do you keep asking me that?” I shot back. “Don’t you think if I had found it that I would tell you?”
He shrugged. “Probably not. Mom said police don’t care about bike cases. She says you probably stooped looking a long time ago.” A twinge of guilt surged through me because his accusation had a grain of truth to it. Bicycle theft tended not to get put on a high priority list, but not from disinterest in looking for them. We usually put our resources into higher crimes, so minor cases like that mostly got permanently shelved if we didn’t solve them immediately. That didn’t happen with Travis’s bike though! Obviously, he lost a possession that had significant value to him, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that a hooker stole it so a serial killer could use it to display an ominous message! Someday, I’d have to tell him, but I couldn’t think of how to break the news to him in a gentle way. He went on, “I figured if I kept asking, maybe you-.”
From the vicinity of her truck, Travis’s mother hollered, “Travis! Quit bugging the neighbors! You’re gonna be late for school! Now, come on!”
“Yes, Mom!” He turned to leave, but we both heard a small crunch from something that he had apparently stepped on. He glanced down and then apologized, “Oh, sorry! I stepped on your flowers!”
“Flowers?” As he ran off, his words confused me a bit. The only plants we had were on the side of the house, and yet he clearly had stepped on something! When I checked out the small set of stairs leading up to the porch, I gasped. Enveloped in a pink, plastic wrap and slightly damaged from Travis’s footprints were a dozen long-stemmed roses! My pulse raced as I reached down for them, and I crossed my fingers that they came from Aidan and not some hillbilly neighbor who developed a crush on me! I found a little, white card with a purple trim, and my anticipation mounted at its peak to see who left these flowers. To my relief and my delight, Aidan had left them for me! The note just read: “Call me sometime,” but it had a heart next to his phone number, so I got the gist of what he meant to say. He really liked me! I almost cried as I stood there holding them like a beauty pageant queen, and I counted my blessings that he had taken the time to do this!
At first, I wanted to text him right away, but then I realized that I had left my phone on my nightstand. It actually surprised me that I didn’t check my phone already since usually I did that as my first act of the day when I woke up, and I now grew curious if my work had called me in for a case. Aidan had obviously been out and about sometime between last night and early in the morning, and the suspect in my case tended to strike in those hours, so my stomach soured at the idea that maybe Aidan wanted to play with my emotions so I wouldn’t suspect him when I discovered whatever he had done last night. I began to wonder if I should bring the bouquet inside or if I should save them as evidence. I dropped them on the porch and decided to make that decision later.
My job hadn’t messaged me at all, but you know who did? Ben! I answered so many of his questions yesterday, and I kept telling him that we could discuss it when we met up at our house. He still insisted on planning it out before we got there, and I don’t think he understood that this rendez-vous didn’t excite me whatsoever. I ignored him as I got ready for the day. I knew he would whine about it later, but I didn’t care. He needed to comprehend that we weren’t taking this task on as a married couple who had to make new living arrangements after getting evicted, this was the first phase of our impending divorce!
I waited until the last minute to head out the door, which I didn’t have a practical reason for except that I didn’t want to run the risk of arriving early and having to spend even more time with Ben! As I ran outside, I almost tripped and fell off the porch! When I examined the cause of the near accident, I saw that the perpetrator had been Aidan’s flowers! In my dread of the unpleasantness ahead of me, I had forgotten about them! I still hadn’t decided how I should have felt about them, but I didn’t want anyone else to trip on them, so I brought them into the car. As I tossed them into the backseat, I thought perhaps after I had a day to mull it over, I’d know whether or not they belonged in the trash or in a vase.
I pulled up to our old address, and I almost didn’t recognize it! I mean, nothing physically
had changed, but it somehow looked different. Perhaps the overcast clouds colored an unfriendly shadow on it, or it could have felt unfamiliar after staying away from it for so long. It had only been days, really, but so much had happened in that small span of time that it seemed as though I had been away longer than that! It may also have stemmed from the bankers waiting on the front yard so they could conduct their business after we finished up. Regardless of the case, I walked up to it as though I were approaching a stranger’s home! I expected Ben to have already situated himself inside to ascertain what valuables he could get his paws on to redeem for the cash that fed his prostitution habit, but to my rotten surprise, he popped out of his car in the driveway and merrily greeted me, “Hello, beautiful!”
He tried to kiss me, but I turned my head away and reminded him, “We’re not together anymore!”
“But we’re still married!” he argued.
“in name only,” I countered. “If you touch me again, I’ll have you arrested for harassment!”
Ben’s face squirmed as though I had just slapped it. “Okay, you’re still mad! Fine, I’ll give you more time!”
I gritted my teeth at the idiocy of his statement, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to perform a melodrama for the bankers camped out on the lawn, but mainly, I didn’t want to prolong this tedium any longer than I had to, so I held my tongue as we went inside.
I drew out my wand and sent back the items that meant the most to me while he packed his favorite belongings into a box. It surprised me that he wouldn’t even use his magic for something important to him! “Might as well be a Fay!” I muttered to myself.
“What’d you say, Babe?” He paused his project to gaze up at me with hopeful eyes.
“Don’t call me babe!” I snapped. “And never mind what I said!”
He returned to his activities with a doleful expression, and I returned to retrieving my keepsakes. I had no idea where I would store all of the photo albums and the like, but I did feel grateful to get some of my treasures back. After I sent all I could to my mom’s house, I headed to the living room to work on the next phase of this expedition. Before I could get there, Ben called after me, “Hey! You forgot our wedding pictures!”
I coolly told him, “No, I didn’t!” as I exited the room.
He followed me, and after he observed me taking snapshots of our old furniture, he questioned, “What are you doing?”
“Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. “We went over this all day yesterday! We agreed that I could take the furniture if you got to keep all the crap in the garage! How could you forget?”
“I thought you wanted to actually keep it. I didn’t know you were gonna make money off it!” he pouted.
As I listed the items on a selling app, I informed him, “If you feel wronged, go ahead and add it to the divorce suit! But just so you know, even if the judge decided you were entitled to half of what I earn from this, it’ll be nothing compared to what you owe me after draining our bank accounts!”
He denied that allegation, “I didn’t drain our bank accounts!”
“Uh, yeah, you did!” one of the bankers outside put in.
“He would know!” I remarked. Other than giving me a defeated look, he didn’t say anything else to me as he went to the garage. I paid him no mind as I went back to listing all I could and inwardly praying that I could get it sold before we had to leave.
To my relief, I actually did get a decent amount of buyers. I felt grateful that I had enough magical skills to move it into people’s homes instantly! If I had waited for them to come here and move it by hand, I probably wouldn’t have gotten rid of much! I didn’t make a whole lot of money, but I did lift a weight off my shoulders to have a little bit more more money in my account! And with Ben not being in the room with me, it didn’t feel quite as cumbersome to do this chore! I had no idea how Ben expected to get the lawn mower and all of his tools into his compact car without magic, but I could care less! If he left anything behind today, it would become property of the bank, and it didn’t bother me if he couldn’t bring what he wanted to his parents’ house or wherever he resurfaced nowadays! Towards the end, it did make me feel a little sad to leave some of my stuff behind, but I didn’t need constant reminders of what transpired between Ben and me, so the nostalgia didn’t last long! When it came time to leave, I felt more than ready to go!
Before I could get out, Ben stood in the doorway with his eyes blazing from anger. He seethed, “Shannon, would you mind telling me what the hell that is?” He pointed outside, and I peered in that direction curiously…