My friend Viola Bleu at Ideas Become Words started a story, “The Parrot Flew West”, and challenged me and several other Bloggers to take it and run with it. I did. I am including Viola’s part 1 here for convenience’s sake, but please mosey over and take a look at her lovely, inspiring, creative blog after you finish here. Thank you, Viola, I hope you like it!
(Uncredited image taken from Viola’s blog)
Part 1 by Viola Bleu
We were driving the route through the Keys when he first mentioned it.
Thinking back now, I recall the sun had almost gone, sinking into a tomato-red horizon, and a faint silver line separated it from the ocean.
‘I don’t think I can go on.’
I spun my sunburnt neck to face him as we crossed the final expanse of water, Key West stretching out in front of us after the long but beautiful drive down from Miami. Did he mean the road ahead, or perhaps he was tired from last night’s escapades in the bar along the main strip. Surely he didn’t mean his life? I hadn’t known him to be the deep, depressive type in the five years I’d known him.
‘I’m sorry?’ I watched his profile. Straight nose highlighted by the remnants of sunlight, his eye – the one I could see right now – hazel, concentrating on overtaking yet another pickup laden with boxes of papaya.
‘Living a lie. I’m not happy and I keep trying to ignore it.’ His face gave away nothing further, no movement, only that eye sometimes zigzagging back and forth from the rear view mirror and the windscreen.
His hand reached down to change gear and as my stomach filled with the fire of panic, I noted the tendons of his fingers. How they had betrayed me when only this morning I had kissed them and they had gone on to touch me gently, then more frantically and ultimately nipping the skin around my nipples in the way only he knew how to do. Those fingers were attached to his hand, arm, body, mind. The same mind which was now informing me he’d been living a lie. I wasn’t sure when I last breathed out, but when a new breath came it brought with it an involuntary gulp of disbelief.
‘What do you mean?’ my question a squeak.
‘I’m sorry. You can do better than me, I know it.’
‘I don’t want better than you.’ My confusion strangled my words.
‘You will when I tell you about the last two months.’
‘Oh God. What are you saying? This was meant to be a celebration trip; our five year anniversary. And you are leaving me?’ The view through the passenger window was spinning. The edge of land mass to Key West disappeared beneath the bridge, the tarmac rolled away behind us as the yards of progress suddenly represented distance from what had seemed so safe, so perfect. He pulled over to the side of the road, where rough ground provided a make-shift layby.
‘It’s not you darling.’ He continued to stare ahead at the traffic whooshing past us, including the old pickup we had just overtaken. ‘I haven’t been honest with you. Those work trips I was taking last month?’ I nodded in silence ‘They were interviews. To set up an office in Los Angeles. And I’ve been offered the job. I accepted last week over the phone. I start next month.’
A parrot flew across the road, green flashes and a surprising wingspan. An hour ago, I’d have been so excited to see it, but now? It was all I could do to breathe. In, out. In, out.
Part 2 by Denny McBride
When I felt I could stand, I pushed the door open and got out of the car, a dozen questions rising in my throat like bile. I leaned my butt against the rear fender, legs bent, hands on knees to prop myself up. My head was still spinning, but I managed to keep from puking by focusing on my two most important questions, the answers to which would determine not only the course of the next few days but also the direction of not two, but now three lives. Seagulls wheeled and called above me. I straightened and watched them riding the warm currents in the fading light, hands interlaced across my abdomen. I inhaled deeply, pressed my lips together, and exhaled slowly then re-entered the car.
Kurt turned toward me, his attractive Crows’ feet crinkled by an embarrassed half-smile, and clasped my left hand in both of his. His hands were soft and surprisingly warm. He chuckled, and locked eyes with me, opened his mouth, and inhaled. “Lura—“
“Do you want me to go with you?” I blurted. “And have you taken another lover?” My throat opened and closed as I fought to keep from crying. My heart was pounding, and I could feel my pulse hammering against his palm.
“Of course I—.” He laughed, harder this time, then covered his mouth. We both just sat there a few moments, breathing and looking at each other. He turned to look out the windscreen again and clapped his hand to his forehead. “What an ass I must sound! ‘Living a lie’, ‘you deserve better than me,’ was there ever a faithless lover who didn’t utter those words?”
I gazed ahead and laughed tentatively, feeling as if I would float right through the roof of the car to join the birds above. “Well, I…”
Kurt turned toward me. His right hand cupped my cheek, and he gently pulled me forward until our foreheads touched. “Lura, love, you are the singular light of my life. I can hardly bear to be apart from you for a week much less the thought of living the rest of it without you.”
I pulled him into an embrace and kissed him. I raised my left hand to cradle his neck and pulled back a bit. “Then why would you suggest that I can do better than you? You ought to know by now that you’re my life, my future.”
“I do know,” he sighed, “but I couldn’t bear to ask you to make that choice. Your family, your career, your friends, hell your whole life is back in Miami. I’ve been sick at the thought of asking you to give it all up.”
I reached out to Kurt, smiled, and clasped both his hands. “That isn’t any choice at all, love. And if it was a month ago, it damn sure isn’t now. I’ve been keeping something from you, too.”
Kurt’s eyebrows shot up, and his eyes widened. “What do you mean?”
“I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure. While you’ve been away, though, I’ve paid my gynecologist a couple of visits. We’re going to be parents soon!”
Kurt embraced me and squeezed. His chest started to hitch, and he began to sniffle. After a few moments, he turned, buckled his seat belt, and faced forward. Two trails down his right cheek gleamed silver in the dashboard lights and curved chinward past his beaming grin. He activated his left turn signal, dropped the car into drive, and waited for a break in traffic then merged into the westward flow.