Am still using the Flash! book by John Dufresne for ideas to spark flash fiction. This morning I had not one idea. My mind was a blank slate. I read on in Dufresne until I found a prompt that interested me. Two people talking to each other, both having totally different conversations. That got my fingers typing…
“It was just one of those Facebook things,” I tell my husband, knowing my excuse is lame and too late.
He doesn’t use Facebook, thinks it’s a waste of time. I can tell you this about the man I married: he doesn’t hardly like to talk to me, so why would he want to talk to almost everyone he’s ever known?
“You always do that,” he says.
“I’m talking about our future and you bring up the past. That’s your problem.”
But I didn’t bring it up. He picked up my phone when it pinged and read my private messages and saw what he saw. Pictures, old ones, from when my Facebook love and I dated in high school. It was more than pictures, it was the whole crazy thing of me thinking I was not in love with my husband but with a guy I hadn’t seen in forty years.
“There will be penalties if we draw from the 401K now,” he says.
“We were in love once. A long time ago.” As I say it, I realize I could be talking about my husband or the Facebook guy or any number of men I had loved. Too many, too often, to ill effect. Is love like that for everyone? Is anybody happy?
“On the other hand, Florida has no state tax.”
We are sitting at the table in the dining room. There’s a whirring sound as pages spit from the printer in the corner. “We’re gonna need a new file,” he says.
I pick up the pages. The history of Facebook friend’s messages from first to last. Here’s one from the middle: It feels so good to finally say I love you and mean it. The pages pile up even though we have not communicated in months. Today his text is brief. You okay?
I’m not sure but it seems I am supposed to add these little love notes to our files of financial information. Unlike the shiny clean sheets in the printer, each page of our financial history has been worn thin by many readings.
I like to buy pretty new file folders for the old abused papers. There are white ones with little gold stars, pink ones with gold hearts, pink and gold striped ones. I put the texts from my Facebook love in one of the gold heart files.
I don’t touch the other papers. I’m not a finance person, but I know that on paper we have wealth, just the wrong kind. The kind that can disappear overnight.
“I just, I don’t know, it was like I went crazy for a minute. Like I was sixteen again.” I was over it, whatever it had been, because I’d spent the last few months in bed in a sugar coma. “I’ll never be over it.”
“If we use the Roth IRA’s first, that should see us through until social security kicks in.” Also on the table: his busy calculator.
“Did you ever think that when we got old we’d still care about things like love?”
“I think we’re done here,” he said, gathering the remaining papers and putting them in their proper files. “What’s for dinner?”