The Importance of Insignificance

Flash Fiction

The El thunders by; this is his train. He should get on, but he doesn’t. Twix candy wrapped in a caramel gold package sits in his lap; his hands fiddle with it. They used to split the Twix; even though it was already divided into halves, they’d split it into fourths and share. Her fingers unfailingly dwindled atop his when she passed it to him, and she’d smirk. God damn that smirk! Then they’d chew it fast, to share in a delectable chocolate caramel kiss.

           The next train whizzes by; it stops, he stands. He should get on, but he doesn’t. A polka dot dress. They used to go dancing, and she’d wear flowing, flowery dresses in all sorts of colors. His favorite was red with white polka dots. The woman at the station wore a dress, a dress she would have twirled around in, giddy as she watched it fly away from her body in an elegant circle. And maybe now she was wearing it, somewhere. The woman scolds him, “Do you mind?” His concentration is hardly broken; she struts away, mumbling about perverts.

           Another train passes- it’s getting late. He should get on, but he doesn’t. The bright lights form a halo around the city she loved so fiercely. She would prance down Michigan Avenue, depriving his wallet of money that he didn’t have to waste. But, even with dollar signs in her eyes, he couldn’t say no to the way her lips parted to make way to her smile or the way her hands clasped together, begging without words. She would kiss his nose and beam up at him; “thank you,” and it made him feel like a hero. No, a god. He turns away from the city, but that won’t erase the memories nor change the feelings.

           A person starts playing a beat-up guitar across from him. It’s slightly out of tune. His foot starts to tap, but he quickly realizes it’s a cover of one pretentious love song or another. As the guy sings, he wonders if he can pay the man to stop playing. He decides it better not to cause a scene.

            It had been something minor, like the way his hand was too high up on her leg in public or that he hadn’t bought her flowers in too long. It had been something so insignificant he’d forgotten, so insignificant that it still slips his mind. He should have expected nothing less; she had always lived for insignificance. It had been a huff of her breath that escalated into poisoned words and raised voices. Which ended in a slamming door that she never opened again.

           He throws the two remaining halves of the Twix onto the El tracks. If she wants them, she can go down there and get them. Another train screeches to a stop in front of him, and he boards triumphantly while the speaker announces that “this is a red line train to Howard.”

            Who needs handwritten letters when there’s instant messenger? What kind of sadist constantly needs flowers dying on their dining room table? Who expects “thinking of you” gifts when they’re continually draining you of every last dollar? She had been the selfish one. Hell, when did she ever do any of those things for him? He stood, firmly assured that he was not at fault; clearly, he’d gotten the better end of the deal out of the whole affair.

           The train rolls into motion. She used to stand, even when there were plenty of seats. She would grab one of the poles and let the nauseating rhythm of the train swing her to-and-fro, giggling the whole time. He would shake his head with a smile.

           He sighs and plays with the ring on his finger, one that she’d given him, promising she’d love him forever. Forever was shorter than intended. The ring felt like it was a part of his skin, something that would be a part of him forever. Then again, so had she. It’s going to be a long ride.