Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Split Endings

What?” His word caught in his throat as he caught a tear from falling to his cheek. “Wait. I’m in the car. Let me pull over.” Her words had caught him off guard. He pulled to the side of the road and put the car in park.

“You okay?”

“No. I’m not okay.” He took his hand off of the steering wheel and pulled the sweat from his cheeks and skied it off of his chin. “Give me a minute.”

Brady's voice was as small as his earpiece. “I’m sorry Mark. I‘m just going to hang up.”

“No. Wait.” He staid his fa├žade and steadied the stream of his voice. “Okay say it again.”

“I’m getting married.”

His pride swallowed his gasp. “When?”

“Next summer.”

“Why are you calling me?”

“I wanted you to hear it from me.”

“Why?” He pushed his breath through his word, pressed his back against the seat, and stretched his legs until his shoes smashed against the floorboard.

“I thought you’d rather to hear it from me than find out from someone else.”

“No. No. Jesus no.” He squinted his brows to his cheeks. “No. This is something I really just don’t want to know at all. Okay. No. I want to know it. I mean I’m not stupid. I knew it would happen. But ...” He took his nails and scratched the skin on his scalp. “I just didn’t consider when.” His tongue wiped over his lips to wet them; the windshield wipers wiped the slush from the scene. “Fuck! Oh shit. I'm trying not to swear!”

“I thought telling you myself was the right thing to do,” she confessed. Her tone contained contrition.

“Well,” he tonelessly whistled air, “it wasn’t a good plan but I can see you had good intentions.”

“I hope to see you there,” she whispered.

“No.” He dropped his chin to his chest and fisted the wheel. “Um, no.” Sorrow constricted his lungs; a small laugh escaped from his lips. “I can’t. I mean, Christ! There’s just no way I can do that. No. I’m not that good of a man. Christ!”

“Okay.” Awkward moments passed between them.

“Congratulations Brady. I hope you're very happy. I honestly do.”

“Thanks Mark. That means a lot to me. Beth told me you're back in the seminary.”

"Yeah." He dropped his head to the back of his neck. "Ah, when did you talk to her?"

"I talk to her all the time."

"Oh." He lifted his head and slightly shook it. "I have no response to that. I don't know what to say. She never told me."

“I'm sorry I called.”

“It's okay. But I’ve got to hang up now.” He whispered. He blurted the word, “goodbye.”

He hung up his phone and pulled the piece out of his ear and tossed it onto the empty passenger seat. Her words still hung in his ears. The car confined his air yet couldn’t contain his sadness. He yanked his keys from the column, opened the door, and swung himself out of the car. He stepped up to the sidewalk and slipped on the fresh snow. He took a step to the north. He turned and stepped to the south. He tried to orient himself; he felt disorientated. He shoved his fists into his pockets. He shivered with stress. His pride shook the showing spate of his sorrow. He straightened his spine, steadied his face, and stealthed his sorrow. He silently bowed his head and blew the breath from his crushed chest. His tears fell on his face and mingled with the snow surrounding his mouth.

He inhaled, raised his chin, bit his bottom lip and began to pray. “You're not my consolation prize,” he silently told God. “I only ever wanted you. I willfully give Christ The King of The Roman Catholic Church my heart, my soul, my mind, my body, and my whole being.” Mark prayed the mantra until his heartbeat calmed and his mind contained his emotions. He dried his pride, straightened his spine, and returned toward his car. “God please make her happy.” He slid into his seat. He put his key into the column and turned his cheek to check for traffic as he merged into the street.