Un-Finished (1.1)

A woman, who had resigned herself to a life of routine smoke screens, faces a fateful accident that puts her on a path of second chances and forgotten dreams.  Now she must choose to embrace the love that she thought lost and the man that she could never forget.

Take the journey with her:

Chapter 1: LIKE A BOLT OF LIGHTNING    

Chapter 1: LIKE A BOLT OF LIGHTNING – On a quiet, sparsely traveled coastal highway, the full moon is the only illumination for miles.  Tall reeds sway along the marshland that borders it.  A faint whistle escapes as the gentle night breeze pushes the reeds in synchronized harmony.

Small but numerous sets of eyes in the low-lying brush flash intermittently from the moon’s reflection…  And then without warning, a rabbit hops out, only to quickly return to the safety of the marsh. 

In the distance, what first appear to be yet another pair of critter-eyes, grow larger and reveal themselves as approaching headlights.  The low hum of the newer model BMW engine wisps past the reeds and just slightly disturbs the peaceful silence.

Dax, an attractive chestnut-haired man in his late thirties drives, while diffusing a conversation with his wife, Beth, also in her thirties.  Neither seem aware of the silent beauty they pass. 

They both wear T-shirts, sandals and a sun-kissed color to their cheeks; evidence of their recent road trip to visit his parents in Florida. His parents relocated to the Sunshine State shortly after his Dad retired from a lifetime of sales in the city.  They bought a ranch style home with a screened-in veranda and a lap dog.  Perhaps it was too much of a glimpse of reality, and what Dax and Beth’s life would be like in forty years.

Beth pulls the long strands of her ebony hair to tighten her ponytail as she continues with her rant. “I don’t understand how you can be so cavalier about it.”

The blue light of the console casts a broody glow on Dax’s face.  “Stop making a bigger deal out of this than it is.”

She turns abruptly to look at him with hurt in her eyes. “How can you pretend that this is not a big deal?”

Dax sighs with his eyes still on the road.  “Beth, we’ve been over this.”

The gentle night breeze picks up and storm clouds hover in the distance.

Beth swallows the lump growing in her throat.  She realizes that it might be an even bigger deal than she had originally estimated.  “But you just said that your life wasn’t what you thought it would be.”

Dax turns to face her briefly.  “Whose is?”

Beth meets his gaze, but then with a tear in her eye turns to stare out the passenger window.  She answers almost in a whisper, “Well, I thought mine was.”

Dax turns to face the road again in silence.  He lets the reality of the pain he’s causing her sink in.  But he just can’t bring himself to feel the same way.  He’s always been left with the lingering question of what if.   Of course, he loves her.  She’s a terrific person and a good companion… but he just never envisioned that his life would be so mundane.  He wants to tell her the truth, but he knows the truth will be painful… so he resists.  He doesn’t respond.  Beth finally wipes the lone tear from her cheek.

Intermittent raindrops hit the windshield and Dax flips on the wipers.  He’s happy to let this conversation die in the sound of their competing rhythm.

But Beth has had enough of the silence.  “Aren’t you going to say anything?”

He steals a glance at Beth and softens.  “Be honest with yourself.  We are content, and that’s not necessarily bad.  I just understand what my parents meant about living in cruise control.”

An enormous flash of lightning briefly ignites the horizon, followed by a clap of thunder.  The moon disappears behind the dark clouds, and the rain pours down.  Dax flips the windshield wipers on high.

Beth turns to face him again.  “It’s more than that.  At least for me it is.”

Dax turns to her with a weak smile and places one hand over hers in her lap.  “Maybe there isn’t more than that.  Maybe this is life’s rhythm.”

            Beth’s emotions and words jumble together.  “What more do you want?  Tell me.”

            Dax considers telling her everything; every lost opportunity, every regret, every bottled emotion… but quickly he realizes it will only hurt her.  So, he broadens his reassuring smile and gently squeezes her hand.  “We’re okay.”  She smiles and closes her eyes to drink in those two words.

The rain pounds the windshield in a sudden fury.  A flash of light is followed by a thunderous clap.  Dax and Beth’s attention is quickly drawn out the front windshield.  Lightning strikes again.  The jagged etch of light touches ground in the near-distance, instantly illuminating the blackness that stretches in front of them and a fallen tree in their immediate path. 

They both gasp, but it’s too late.

Copyrighted 2020 – by Janet Arlotta

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