He stepped out of the car in to an unforgiving heat. It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the thick layer of
dust on his black Ford 500 was testament to the wretched weather. It was as if the earth mirrored the
man he had become.
It had become ritual to be there in the parking lot every Saturday afternoon. He would always arrive a few minutes early to allow for a moment
of reflection on the life that had brought him here. It had been five years since his wife had left him and thoughts of love and the hope of
yesterday had long since left his mind. He glanced down at his phone to check the time.
“Three o’clock” he muttered.
He considered for a moment why he insisted on being early knowing she would be another
fifteen minutes and cursed himself for this bad habit. He didn’t have time for sentiment anymore.
After the divorce he threw himself into his work. Determined to avoid the thoughts of love that had
long plagued him he let his passion for logic consume him. Constantly thinking and focusing on his
research he convinced himself that love was just a chemical addiction and could serve no real purpose
outside of the reproductive paradigm.
A large 1980’s olds moblie rumbles up to the pumps, as he turns to walk inside the gas station, and
several teenagers pile into the parking lot two laughing obnoxiously loud and two obviously a couple
holding hands and French kissing as they walked inside. How simple it had been he thought to himself.
To be young and in love, completely carefree, unaware of what the world would do to that
love. Recollections of his own youth snuck up on him as old ghosts tend to do and before he would
allow a smile to cross his face he brushed the thought aside and strode into the gas station.
Being a mathematician by trade it was his tendency to try to evaluate everything. It had started as
just a way to deal with the stresses of everyday life. Assigning probabilities and blaming them for the
pain and strife in the world and his life was what made it bearable. He found comfort in blaming
everything on chance. He could boil it all down to statistics. His marriage had been destined to fail. He
could blame the random chaos of the universe for his grievances. Only a cold calculated mechanical
world could allow for so much suffering. If love and kindness were truly a mark of consciousness then
no one could bare the pains we do.
He had come to believe that there was no reason to hope for anything in this life. The dice will either
fall for you or against you and they had fallen against him more times than he cared to recount. As he
stepped across the threshold into the station a display of fresh roses for sale catches his eye. They are
beautifully formed in size and color. He pauses a moment looking closely at the flowers. Smelling the
sweet attar letting the scent fill his nose. She never cared much for flowers he thought to himself. He
quickly moved on wondering to himself why that thought had come to him. He had given up on her
ages ago. He had committed abuses against the trust she had given him and life had dictated that she
leave him. He had accepted his failures and resented the thoughts he now found himself having. He
had tried to save his marriage and could not regain her trust. She had walked away when he had tried
so hard. He didn’t blame her he knew what he had done to her heart and how many times he had let
her down. She had blamed him and rightly so. He added the odd lines of thought up to his rapidly
diminishing blood sugar and continued toward the case holding the sodas.
It wasn’t like him anymore to let emotion into his mind. He had cast that part of life out with his love.
He found himself flustered at his moment of weakness and was irritated that he had even thought of
her. He didn’t care what she liked anymore. There was no sense in considering the flowers. He
grabbed two Mountain Dews from the cooler and turned towards the counter to see the raucous group
of teenagers trying to convince the clerk to sell them a pack of cigarettes. The young couple stood to
the side staring affectionately at each other . He hadn’t noticed her distended belly in the parking lot.
She was pregnant and well along it appeared. The fellow looked at his young girlfriend with
complete admiration. The young man reached out and touched her belly with a caress full of passion.
He felt the familiar warmth of a tear in the corner of his eye as the young woman smiled into her
young hero’s eyes. He had felt as they did before. Somewhere a lifetime ago that had been him. He
couldn’t help but wonder if the boy knew what he would have to do to keep her smiling. If he knew the
world would try everything to separate them. He wondered if the kid would have the strength he had
not, if their lives and love would fall to ruin because of the temptations and carnal pleasures of youth.
A great feeling of worry boiled up inside him. He hadn’t thought this way in years. Why was this
happening to him today? Why was his mind trying to sway his thought to the past and to her so much?
Why was he struck so hard by some irresponsible kids? He had let his demons go so long ago. Why the
sudden interruption to his thoughts why the rush of memories… The small mob of kids made their way
back out as he began walking towards the counter.
For reasons he would never fully understand he plucked a rose he had taken a particular interest in
from the display as he passed back by. He placed the flower and sodas on the counter and requested his
daily pack of camel filter cigarettes. The elderly clerk gave a hollow smile and turned to get the
smokes. He braced himself for the undoubted exchange of empty pleasantries these types of
situations demand as the woman began to ring up the items.
“How are you?” she asked.
“Pretty good.” he replied. “Awfully hot out there.”
“I wouldn’t know.” she said with a smile “I’ve been stuck in here all day.”
“Well you aren’t missing much I had to come inside because I was starting to melt out there.” He said
and forced a laugh.
“That’s a very pretty flower. Is that for a special lady?” she inquired.
“Oh no.” he said “They just remind me of better times, and I love the smell.”
“That’s too bad. Surely such a beautiful flower deserves to be given to someone you love.”
“I don’t believe in love anymore ma’am. Only math,” he joked dryly.
“Oh that is a shame. Love is what makes the world go round.” She smiled and handed him his
He walked out of the store and back into the sun. He felt the weight of the heat hit him immediately.
He checked his phone again for the time and was slightly dismayed to find that his pocket had
manipulated his phone to display a picture of his ex-wife and two children. He frowned at this freak
streak of coincidences forcing him to think about her. He walked back to his car and glanced up to see
her truck coming down the road to deliver his children to him for the weekend.
“Great” he mumbled. Not wanting at all to see her now that she had crept back into his thoughts so
slyly. He realized he had the flower in his hand and quickly tossed it into the passenger seat of the car.
“Damn it” he thought. “Why did I buy that.”
edit on 28-6-2013 by constantwonder because: (no reason given)