River held tight to the end of her rope. He'd left her for the last time, he’d said. He'd left her every Valentine’s Day. But this time he’d packed his favorite shirt, his socks, and his dog.
Piney’s words echoed off peeling walls and cardboard ceiling tiles. "Cain’t do it anymore. I cain’t pretend this is where I'm supposed to be."
River could hear his Dodge, as eager to get out of town as her husband. The truck’s muffler rumbled and spit behind foggy windowpanes. She sat in tense silence and stared at the faded green carpet, averting her eyes from the conflict. Slumped down into the old, overstuffed couch, venturing sheepish glances as she clutched her mama’s throw pillows, this time felt different.
Wiping tears from swollen eyes, River whispered to her daughter who straddled the arm of the couch as if sitting atop her horse. "Sit by me, Kip."
But the nine-year-old, transfixed by her daddy’s fit, licked at her own tears while her parents bludgeoned each other with words.
"You know where you can find me," said Piney. His mouth was set in its distinctive smile, but his eyes were hollow.
"Go then!" River shouted. He’d worn her down with authoritative edicts that made no sense. Every time she presented a logical explanation, Piney shot back with something asinine wrapped in his typical theological and patronizing tone. His agitation bubbled under the surface of his reasons for flight, but his face bore no sign of fire. It only grew more rugged and redder by the second.
This is the first part of my new short story, River Song.
Blessings to you and yours.