OBSESSION

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


Flash fiction inspired by picture prompt


June stared out of the window at the familiar sight of her husband carrying out his daily ritual with meticulous attention to detail. She took in his rapt expression, the way his fingers caressed the shining curves, how he stood back to admire the satisfying effect of his handiwork… the gleaming bodywork, the chrome bumper glinting in the sunlight, the luxurious leather upholstery so lovingly restored. 

It had been twelve months since Gordon had reluctantly retired from a demanding job that had consumed him. At sixty eight years old, he had found retirement hard to adjust to… his purpose in life had been replaced with a yawning void that stretched before him into infinity. He had lost his identity, his status and the kudos that gave him immense satisfaction.

Unlike her husband, June had counted down the days to retirement, which she saw as an opportunity rather than a threat. That had been four years ago and she had not looked back. She found having more leisure time liberating… she joined a gym, an art class and a book club. She rescued a puppy and went for long walks with a community of dog walkers. She enjoyed pottering in the garden and discovered a dormant talent for writing poetry.

When Gordon retired, she had found his general loss of interest in life bewildering. She had tried her best to help him. “Gordon, you need to take up some new interests… join some clubs. You used to be so interested photography, and you always vowed to take up golf when you retired. We haven’t even been on holiday since you left work, and this aimless existence is doing you no good at all.”

Of course, Gordon knew she was right, but he did not possess the interest or initiative to do anything about it. Then one day, while idly flicking through a Classic Car magazine in the dentist’s waiting room, a spark of interest ignited. It was definitely in need of some restoration, but he now had the time to devote to it. It would be a new project to focus on, give him a purpose. Yes, this is just what I need,” he had vowed.

And so his project soon became an obsession, to which he devoted an inordinate amount of time, to the exclusion of everything else.

As June stood at the window with faithful Merlin at her side, that bitter resentment again began to rise inside her. She was married to a man she no longer recognised. Yes, they lived together, but with every day, they had drifted further and further apart, until one day, Gordon announced he would be sleeping in the spare room. It was this final act that, for June, had sounded the death knell on their marriage.

She watched him take the chamois leather and with long strokes, caressed the windscreen until it shone. With anger boiling inside her, she opened the window. “You might as well be married to that car, you sure have more feelings for it than you have for me.  Why don’t you just bugger off with it and don’t come back.”

June began to shake violently, and poured herself a large schooner of sherry to help calm herself.

“I think you’ve finally taken leave of your senses,” Gordon accused, wielding a tin of car wax like a weapon.

“Oh, there you go again, it’s always my fault. Well let me tell you this… the love of your life won’t put a hot meal on the table or iron your shirts, but I hope you will both be very happy, because I’ve had enough. It’s not me who’s crazy, it’s you! You’re in love with that bloody car, I’ve seen the adoration in your eyes… the way you fondle and caress it… it’s a car for heaven’s sake. You’re mad Gordon, stark raving mad.

Gordon picked up the whiskey bottle, poured himself a generous measure and gulped it down. “You’ve got a nerve… you’ve only got eyes for that damn dog, it follows you everywhere. You should hear yourself… you talk to it in this silly la-la language, it’s pathetic.”

Well at least I know Merlin loves me, he has feelings, unlike that car. You’ve changed, Gordon, and as far as I’m concerned our ‘marriage’, if you can call it that, is over.”

June stomped from the room with Merlin at her heels, opened the front door and stood in front of the car. “Gordon!” she yelled. “I’ll show you what I think of the love of your life.” She picked up a garden spade and smashed it against the shiny chrome bumper.

Gordon jumped into the driver’s seat, reversed furiously off the drive, and drove off like a maniac sending nosy neighbours diving behind their thick privet hedges.

“Show’s over folks.” June yelled. “Come on Merlin, we’re better off without him.”

Fired up with rage and whiskey, Gordon drove with reckless abandon. He misjudged a bend, and plummeted down a grassy bank. In a daze he pushed hard on the accelerator, hoping to find a way back on to the road, but found himself driving deeper and deeper into woodland… negotiating trees, bushes and ruts. He told himself to keep going that he would eventually come to a track. That was Gordon’s last thought, as he crashed headlong into the sturdy trunk of a gnarled tree.

That evening, June settled herself on the sofa in front of the television, with Merlin cuddled up beside her. After a while she glanced at her watch, guilt beginning to tug at her. He’d been gone for hours with no contact. She picked up her phone and sent him a curt text, asking him to get in touch.

Days turned into weeks and still no contact. She toyed with contacting the police to report him as a missing person, but thought better of it. Without him, she was happier than she had been in a long time. Her face broke into a wry smile. “Come on boy, looks like it’s just you and me from now on.”

 

 


Submitted: August 12, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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Comments

jaylisbeth

My, my, Sue, brilliant Flash fiction. Very well done, my good friend :)

Sun, August 12th, 2018 4:50pm

Author
Reply

Aw, thanks JB. You're always so kind... so pleased you enjoyed it. As always I really appreciate your support and friendship.












Sun, August 12th, 2018 10:50am

hullabaloo22

Oh, Sue, how often does that happen, I wonder. Not the ending but the obsession with a vehicle to the exclusion of all else. Judging by the amount of magazines and stuff, I'd say a lot! An excellent picture-inspired read!

Sun, August 12th, 2018 7:22pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Hully. When I looked at the picture, the idea suddenly came to me when I remembered a former neighbour who spent all his time cleaning and polishing his car... if it was raining, they would even take the bus so it didn't get wet! So yes, I'd say it happens a lot. My car is actually like a skip on wheels,what with the dog and the grand-kids, but that's fine by me! So pleased you enjoyed it, and thanks again for commenting.


Sun, August 12th, 2018 1:16pm

KathrynAcacia

I don't quite understand the utter obsession some people have with cars, but I guess that's probably because all of the cars I've been in look like a tornado has swept through them- food smashed into the floorboards, questionable stains on the seats, toys everywhere... there are too many people in my family for an obsession to be possible, haha!

This was a very interesting story- how something that starts so small can grow so big and damaging... I'm with June all the way, she's much better off with the dog! Great story!

Tue, August 14th, 2018 4:17am

Author
Reply

I'm with you there... a car is just a means of travel, getting from one place to another. I just can't understand people who seem to covet and worship them. Thanks so much reading and commenting, so pleased you enjoyed it... and yes, she's is certainly better off with the dog!

Tue, August 14th, 2018 11:36am

Jeff Bezaire

Oh, the peril of retirement. An all too real hazard for many people. It's something I'm happy I know I'll never have to worry about, but for some people their job is their life, and there's nothing else but TV to fill it. That's not good. Everyone should have a hobby for their own sake.
This is a great look at how retirement affects people. For some couples, they find out they haven't really known each other or don't realize their spark has fizzled out until they're both home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Some passions don't live forever and some can't stand to be neglected.
I must say, the ending is rather good, Sue. A grim ending, but well written. Poor decisions and brash action get you to the grave sooner than a shouting match with your spouse. I like the subtle inclusion of alcohol that had at least a little influence over both of them. Nicely done. A very real message in this story, one you illustrate superbly.

Wed, August 29th, 2018 12:54am

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for your insightful comment, Jeff. So pleased you enjoyed it.

Wed, August 29th, 2018 1:04am

Joy Shaw

Wow. I didn’t expect that ending! Honestly, I was a little upset with June for not caring but then again if she had found out that he had died, she would’ve blamed herself. Sometimes what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Really well written.

Fri, September 7th, 2018 4:48am

Author
Reply

Thank you, Joy, for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

Fri, September 7th, 2018 12:36am

r futrell

Wow, They both went crazy. Great writing.

Sun, September 23rd, 2018 11:35pm

Author
Reply

They certainly did! Thanks for giving it a read, much appreciated.

Mon, September 24th, 2018 12:33am

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