By David J. Montgomery
I hit reload to see if she’d posted a response to my comment. Not yet. It had been exactly sixteen minutes since my comment appeared. Maybe she wasn’t online, although she wasn’t due to leave for work for twenty-four minutes. I knew she wouldn’t deliberately ignore me. She’s not like that.
Five minutes later, I hit reload again. There it was! She’d finally replied.
LOL. You know me too well, SteveBlack. I wish you’d talk to my husband!
Smiling, I leaned back in my chair. I did know her. I knew her better than anyone. Especially Mark, that piece of shit husband of hers. She’d made it clear on her blog that he didn’t get her at all. Didn’t love her or respect her. Not like I did.
And I’d seen it with my own eyes. Seen the way he treated her. The way his face creased with anger and spit flew from his mouth. I usually couldn’t hear the words he said, but I could imagine them.
I looked at the clock. Fourteen minutes to go. It was time to finish getting ready. I hit reload one more time, but there was nothing new.
I first met AmberSki77 a little over two years ago. That was just her internet handle, of course. Her real name was Amber Marie Jackson. I should say, that was her married name. Her real name was Bronson, like Charles Bronson, the actor. She was born in Bakersfield, California and would turn thirty years old on August 17th.
Even though she called herself AmberSki, she hadn’t been skiing the whole time I’d known her. Mammoth was only a five hour drive, but I don’t think Mark liked skiing. He never seemed to like much of anything, except watching the NBA on his big screen TV and drinking Rolling Rock.
I looked at the clock and saw that it was time to go. I liked to think of it as escort duty. Kind of like the Secret Service or something. You never knew when her car might break down or she might run out of gas. If that happened, I wouldn’t want her to have to worry. I could take care of things. I’d be good at taking care of things for her.
After I got home I checked the blog, but of course she hadn’t posted anything. She’d been in her car the whole time. I decided to get some sleep before I went for my run. Our lunchtime wasn’t until noon, so I had a good four hours to kill.
When I woke up ninety minutes later, I checked the blog by reflex, but the only thing new was a stupid comment from one of her friends.
When I checked my email, though, I couldn’t believe what leaped out at me from the screen. There in the sender list was the name firstname.lastname@example.org. Had she finally written? I couldn’t believe it. I opened the message.
I meant what I said this morning. You do know me so well. As for Mark…Well, you know how that goes. I just wish there was some way to make him understand.
Know what I mean?
I closed the browser and headed out for my run. I never ran far; just a mile out and a mile back. But it helped me think. Helped me clear my head, get control of things.
I couldn’t clear my head today, though. I kept thinking about Amber’s email. I couldn’t believe she finally wrote. We’d only ever talked on the blog before. Not in person like this and it felt strange. Great, but strange.
I wasn’t sure what she meant. Make him understand what? Mark never understood anything. I’m not sure he was capable of it. He was a lost cause.
Or was she saying something else? Was she really saying what I thought she was saying?
I’d been dreaming about that for the past two years, but I didn’t know she felt the same way. I mean, I thought she did. I was pretty sure she did. But she’d never come right out and said it before.
Now, just to think that there was a chance for us. I got her. I really got her, deep down. And she knew it. If only Mark weren’t in the way.
That night, he sat there in his recliner, watching as Kobe dropped forty on the Knicks. Amber was at Lucy’s house and would be there until at least ten. She never came home early when the Lakers were on. She hated basketball, just like me.
It would be so easy. Mark had already drunk a six pack of beer and was half-asleep as it was. Who said he had to wake up? Where was that written?
Who would even miss him? Not Amber. She’d said so. He was the only thing left standing in our way.
I slipped in the back door and did what I had to do. It wasn’t as hard as I thought. He only struggled a little bit, but even that seemed half-hearted. It was like he knew it was coming and that he deserved it. By the end, it was almost like he gave me his blessing. I didn’t think he had it in him, but I’ll give him credit for that.
As I stepped onto the front lawn, a bright light shined in my eyes. A voice called out from behind the light: “Police! Don’t move!”
I was too surprised to move or do anything else. A moment later, two dark shapes knocked me to the ground and wrenched my arms around behind my back. The same voice from before was saying something, but I didn’t understand.
I still wasn’t sure what was happening. I sat there on the lumpy seat in the back of the car as it started up and pulled away. The last thing I saw was Amber, standing on the sidewalk.
She was smiling.
(Written as part of Blog Short Story Project 3.)