It was lunch time. Stephen sat down at the table. Same table he always sat at. Same place he always ate lunch. The local Subway. Right down the road from the office where he worked. He picked up his sub. Took a big bite. Chewed it. Swallowed it. Grabbed his soda. Took a big gulp of that.
Then he stopped. He just started out the window, watching the cars on the road outside as they drove by. As he did, he closed his eyes. The image was still there. The image of Diane. Sitting at her desk. In tears. Hurt. Alone. And he’d walked away. Left her sitting there. In tears. Alone.
He stared out the window, and watched the cars. No one in those cars even knew his name. No one knew Diane. No one knew that he’s walked away. No one cared. He tore his eyes from the window. Resumed eating his sub. Silently assaulting it with his teeth. Draining his soda too quickly. Stephen had to get up, and get a refill.
When he sat back down, to finish his sub, his eyes drifted to the window again. And once more, he just stared out the window, watching the cars as they rolled by. Only this time, he didn’t see the cars. He saw Diane face. Painted on the window. She was crying. Hurt. And he heard her voice as she said to him, “You abandoned me.”
Angrily, he got up. Threw out the remains of his sub. Took his soda with him to his car. Drained it on the way back to the office. Once there, he buried himself in his work. Whatever had happened with Diane, it wasn’t his problem. It wasn’t his job. He wasn’t supposed to take care of her. He had to take care of his family. Do his job. Keep the money coming in. Be dependable. Reliable. Let Diane deal with her own problems. They weren’t his. There was nothing he could do for her.
And with each hour that ticked by on that day, Stephen’s heart grew a little colder. A little harder. A touch less alive. A touch less human. Until he’d convinced himself he’d done nothing wrong at all when he’d walked away and left Diane, hurt and all alone, crying at her desk. And that was all it took for Stephen to take one more step down the path of turning the heart within his chest to ice. Frozen hard as any stone. Unable to feel anything for anyone any more.
This piece was written in response to the prompt for the 37th Thursday Threads flash fiction challenge hosted by Siobhan Muir. This piece clearly ignores the limit of 250 words, and no more, for the challenge. But for now, I need to ignore those word limit rules. I’m searching for something. And I’m slowly finding it.
Feel free to go read the entries in the Thursday Threads challenge. They are all well written, creative, artistically rendered and crafted pieces of flash fiction. I certainly have enjoyed reading them. I think you would too.
You should also know that this piece is a continuation of a piece I first wrote 22 months ago, titled, Cold As Ice And Hard As Stone. That piece was revised in December of 2011. You may find the revised version here.