28 Days of Flash — Fiction 12 of 28 — a study in first person POV (trigger warning: narcissistic abuse)
I sat at the flashing yellow light waiting to turn left. A never-ending stream of cars roared by me, and their fumes fused to the stagnant air in my car. The A/C died at the end of the last summer and I still hadn’t gotten around to getting it fixed.
Daisy would have hounded me to fix it. Daisy would have called the shop for me when I didn’t do it because she wouldn’t have let me drive around in a car without A/C in the summer with the girls. But Daisy absolved herself of that responsibility when she told me to get the fuck out of my own house five months ago. She said it just like that, in front of our youngest daughter. She was still holding my phone when she said it, staring at the screen. She had no right to invade my privacy like that.
A nondescript pop song ended just in time for a DJ to narrate my mid-intersection delay.
“It’s quarter to three in the City of Trees, and the heat is not gonna let up, folks, so let’s hear from Glenn Frey, The Heat is On.
I didn’t appreciate the DJ’s sense of humor.
I looked at Waze. 23 minutes until I would get to the attorney’s office. In sixteen minutes I would officially be late. I would never hear the end of it. I always made her wait. I made her life hell. She’s going to bill me for the cost of the attorney.
I’m the one who got the raw deal. I never did anything to anyone but myself.
The light turned yellow and I was still in the intersection. I gave the full back of my hand and a disgusted shake of my head to the two cars that ran the light, leaving me stuck in the middle even as the other light turned green. A driver in the car to my right blasted their horn.
“Yah, yah, I’m the jerk, sure,” I said as I rolled my eyes. What I did was perfectly legal and it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t turn. I had every right to be in that intersection. Just like I had every right to do what I wanted as a husband. To use my phone in the manner in which I determined.
She was the one who sinned by asking me for a divorce. She was supposed to stay married to me no matter what. That’s what the pastor said. No. Matter. What. I didn’t go out and find anyone else. And I never did anything to her. She found that silly victims group after going to a counselor. That’s when she decided she had grounds. All those women getting together every week. Deciding they were abused. Deciding they hadn’t done anything wrong. Deciding God was on their side.
Another red light. I looked at Waze. Now I was going to be nine minutes late. Thanks, Traffic.
I slowed to a stop and sat in the heat, breathing fumes. I should’ve bought a new car when she still had the good job. She was driving a good car. I got stuck with the same car I always had. I always got a different one — never a new one — when the engine stopped working in the other cars. She always got what she wanted. I always got what could get me by. That was responsible.
I took a long drink of water from a bottle in the console. I’m not so stupid to forget water. She sometimes forgot those details, but I never do.
The light turned green and traffic lurched forward after two cars ran the light. A hot wind came through the window. A drop of condensation from the water bottle lingered on my finger and then fell. I swear I saw it evaporate before it hit the floor.
I cruised onto the connector and was just coming up over the curve when the digital billboard came into sight. I didn’t want to look but I had to. Surely the ad would be gone by now. Surely with the news of my divorce, I thought, the church would realize it was a mistake to make all this noise. None of this was my fault. I’m the one who’s sweating it out, hurting from the sin of my soon-to-be-ex-wife.
Then, after advertising a jewelry store, the lights flashed bright white and the red letters burned onto the display.
Struggling with porn? You’re not alone. 65% of Christian Men struggle. We can help.
The photo of my support group was still on the ad. I was smiling and holding a Bible and gesturing in a way that looked confident, like the photographer asked.
Help with what, I wondered. I didn’t hurt anyone. I never made her watch it. I never did anything to her. I never strayed from God. I prayed for Him to heal me. He just didn’t do it yet. It wasn’t my fault.
I was officially late to the meeting with the attorney. It wasn’t my fault. It was traffic.