Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Flashfic: What she wanted

Sex was never Andrea’s thing. She didn’t really enjoy it, but sex was the only way to have a baby and the thought of being a mother was appealing. So, she went out, met Bob, got married and had sex.

Wedded life, she decided, was okay. It was nice to have someone around to do the heavy lifting.

Ten months after the wedding, Andrea gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. Bob named her Shayna. Andrea didn’t really care.

The doctors said her apathy was most likely postpartum depression. They assured her it would pass.

It didn’t.

She saw to Shayna’s needs. Fed her, bathed her and kept her clean. But motherhood, Andrea decided, had been a mistake. A year after Shayna’s birth, Andrea packed a suitcase and left.

"How can you just abandon your family?" Andrea’s mother raged at her.

"Because they’re not what I thought I wanted."

Andrea’s mother was apoplectic. Her friends were mostly confused.

"Was Bob a bad husband?" Margie asked.

"No," said Andrea. "He was very nice. You should go out with him."

Margie thought that was funny as hell. "Are you pimping out your husband, Andrea?"

"He’s not my husband anymore."

The divorce had been quick and bitter. Bob felt used and abandoned. Andrea didn’t blame him. After all, she had used and abandoned him.

Afterwards, Andrea packed up her car and left town. She drove south and settled in Florida. There, among groves of orange trees, Andrea grew old.

One afternoon, years later, Andrea received a large envelope in the mail. There was no return address. Opening it, she found several photos. She recognized some of the faces: Bob, her parents, Margie. With them was a girl with Andrea’s eyes.

The pictures were a record of her daughter’s life. In this one, Shayna was a toddler taking her first steps. Further along, there was Shayna with her first bike. There were birthday pictures, prom pictures, a graduation photo. Near the back was a wedding photo. Shayna wore a simple white dress. The groom had a nice smile.

More pictures. A pretty little house surrounded by pink rose bushes. Shayna, hugely pregnant. Her daughter with a fat baby on her lap.

At the bottom of the photo was a note. On it, written in a clear, precise hand, were the words: See what you’ve missed? It was signed by her daughter.

Andrea gathered up the photos, the note and the envelope. She walked outside, to her barbecue, and burned them.

As the pictures burned, Andrea looked around her. Her gaze swept over her home, the fragrant orange trees surrounding it.

"See what I have," she told the flawless blue sky.

Andrea closed the lid on the barbecue, so the breeze wouldn’t scatter the ashes, and went inside the house. She remained content unto herself.

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