Written by Erin Nust
The idea which wandered in his mind and tortured him day and night was that he had to face every single one of them under a new light. What was more, he had just been burdened by accusations for her death and that made his guilt even more unbearable.
Although one might believe that his daily routine would probably change, the truth is none of the things he did while Janet was still alive ceased their flow. He woke up at the same time (7:30 in the morning), he washed his teeth, and he drank his coffee by the window. The difference was that there was no one to keep him out from the toilet or the kitchen where she made breakfast. Since she was gone, breakfast was just a luxury to him and he skipped it. Then, he had to do the hardest thing for the day: go to his office, sit down, and write.
Writer’s block hit him harder after his wife’s death (death, you make it sound like it was something natural, like something that would happen anyway) and going to the office and actually sitting on his comfy red chair was literally harder than breaking an egg without dropping any shells. He decided to go out that day and skip the writing session, as he did with his breakfast. What’s the point in trying anyway, nothing good will come out of it.
He put on his black coat and he took Apple Street. It was his favourite route because it was a small road, all covered with grey stones and a pavement which was stacked with, as the name pointed out, apple trees. Now that the summer was fading out and September took over, the leaves had already started to lose their green brightness. He anticipated the October weather when they fall off and the red colour of the apples pops out in the midst of naked branches. Following that road, he would end up in Greystone, the main street in North Crennal that was always busy but never in the kind of car jam that happens in the centre of Astus. Moving here was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. And it wasn’t even my idea.
He walked along the street until he reached the crossing. He pushed the button and in seconds, the light turned green. A happy green man that paced appeared. George passed Greystone and took the second alley to his left hand. A big label appeared that exhibited the brand of the local bakery shop, CRENNAL’S BREAD AND TOFFEE. He entered and the smell of hot bread and the cookies made his empty stomach rumble. George cursed himself for not having breakfast.
“Good morning,” he said and smiled at the little fat guy (George tried to remember his name. Leo or Louis, he wasn’t sure). The baker smiled until he realized the man standing in front of him was George Frazer. He didn’t reply.
“Two loaves of bread and a box of these wonderful cookies, please,” he said and stood witnessing Leo or Louis moving in curt ways and staring at George impolitely. Of course, they do, they all know who I am, what I did. The smile disappeared from his face, adapting to the situation.
The man outstretched his arm to give George the bread and the box and he looked at him coldly. “Two forty.” His voice was that of the executioner.
George put his free hand to his right pocket and fiddled in clanking coins until he felt the right ones. “Thank you.”
“She was a good woman, your wife,” the man said when George reached the back of the store. “Why’d you do something like that to her?”
George turned around and looked at the man, glad that he had the chance to explain to someone. Even convicts had the right to one last wish.
“I didn’t know, I would cause such harm, mister. Things were completely out of hand lately and…” he didn’t know what else to say. How could he explain the situation in his marriage, in his house to a stranger? He couldn’t, so he decided to spill the raw truth to him. “I’m sorry, for everything that happened.”
He liked the small, fat man–even now. Before his nightmare would begin, he used to welcome him with a friendly smile and he always offered a cookie or two just because. Now things didn’t work that way.
“Sorry is not enough most of the time,” he said with a tone of wisdom and George knew he was right.
He decided he had enough interaction with the world outside and he took the route back home. Suddenly, the idea of sitting behind his blank page was not so terrifying. On his way back he noticed nature around him and he firmly believed that even the apple trees treated him differently. He imagined how they turned their backs on him, how from beautiful and welcoming they became terrifying and apathetic.
A couple of women started chatting when they saw him passing by the road and George lowered his head. He knew these women. It wasn’t much time ago that the one with the brown coat called him and Janet on her birthday. It seemed like he deserved the good behaviour and the warmth of his neighbours as long as he had Janet by his side. Gone, and the smiles were gone with her. Is this really who I am now? Or was I this man all along but Janet made me better?
A cold breeze made his eyes wet and he rushed to find his keys and enter his home. In his solitude, he could define better who he was and who he wasn’t. When he put his foot in the house, an idea electrocuted him and made him stop. It was as if a Muse was waiting for him by the door and hit him with an idea at the moment he entered like a homeowner would do to a burglar.
He put the bread on the table, grabbed his coffee and the box of cookies, and rushed into his office. He opened a blank file and typed like crazy. He would write a story inspired by his life. It was a story about a writer that had an affair with a woman twenty-five years younger than him. His wife had depression and clawed to their relationship when she caught him with that younger woman, she fell off a cliff near their district. He was left to face the consequences and himself.