4:46am

4:46am is a story that dwells into the mind of a Young husband name Hank...Who is trying to accept the realities of his relationship with his wife. Denial is a sad thing.

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1. 4:46 am (short story)

                                                  4:46 AM

                                By: Renee Hines

4:46am….that’s the time the clock shows me by my bedside. 4:46 is what ticks away in my ears.  Second after second and tick after tick… No need to set the alarm no; 4:46am is the time She and I both slowly erect ourselves every morning, groggy…and begrudgingly; every Monday for the past year. Out of this frumpy old bed of ours we go, as I sluggishly head towards the bathroom, and Ronda pulls herself quietly down the hall towards the kitchen. We begin our Monday morning rituals.

       “She will Fry up my eggs” I thought to myself while brushing my teeth.

“She will grab that old iron skillet, that she always complains is too old. And despite that I bought her the brand new Rachel ray set, that she pretty much blackmailed me to purchase. Only to ignore all 8 pots and pans each morning, to use Ole… Faithful.”

  I shake my head and laugh a little.

“Yeah I’ll never understand Women and their million kitchen appliances. And she has nerve to talk about us men and ours love for cars. Don’t see the difference I’m afraid.”

I continue to laugh as I rinse out my mouth and splash my face with some water.  I then reach for the Pink Decorative Towel, now a bit dull and worn thanks to me; but stopped just inches from it touching my face. And I laugh some more thinking:

   “If she walks pass me now and see me with this…flimsy thing; She’d kill me with only her eyes that I even dare use this thing.  She will go on and on in her squeaky voice:

Out of All the towels I got stocked in that linen closet! All the towels fresh and clean, smelling of tide waiting just for you! And still you chose the ones that you know! Are not for your face!”

   “Well what the hell are they here for if we can’t bloody use them Ronda?” I’d ask as I look over towards my wife.

 Staring into her Hazel eyes…puffing but still charming under the bathroom light. And slowly trace down her small frame, hidden under the fabric of my favorite thick Class Hoodie. The one that’s too big for her, but still love that she faithfully wears to bed every night. Even though I faithfully give her slack about how she just took it upon herself, to take ownership of my favorite College school Monument. She didn’t even go to Temple…and she says hates the color burgundy. I’ll never understand women. No…I will never understand that crazy Woman.

    Anyways…I’d continue to look into those bedroom eyes…waiting sarcastically but patiently for her answer.  And She will just roll her wonderful jewels of gold and green at me and go…

“Really…we say Bloody now?” As she’d snatch the flimsy thing out of my hand and toss a clean white towel my way.

“Please don’t go all Duke of Buckingham on me Darling. It is after all…..  only a decorative item sweetheart.”

I’d roll my eyes and chuckle at her terrible impression of an old 50’s Hollywood starlet, and chirp

“ I won’t go all Prince Harry on you…if you promise not to turn into Bette Davis before my eyes Dear. Honestly You should really stick to your day job Love…Acting is not for you.”

   Her eyes would widen up as she playful hits my arm in laughter as I flash her a snippy little side my smile. She hated when I teased her love for old movies…but secretly I think she loves it. Cause then she’d place her hands on her hips dramatically and recite her favorite line from all about eve:

   “Fasten your seatbelts…it’s going to be a bumpy night” then exits stage left.  Then I shout to remind her

   “It’s morning actually!”

“Shut up!” she shout!  Then I’d hear her snatch out that heavy iron pan from the pantry. Its old interior scraping against the stove top, listening to her mumble “This old thing…need to throw it away.” And I just laugh.

   Yup I held that flimsy towel remembering what awaited me and just did myself a favor…and reached in the linen closet and grabbed one of the magnificently white towels out and folded the frumpy old “decorative towel” back into its original shape.   I then proceed to Hop in the shower and ready myself for work.

       I enjoyed the hot water running through my hair and down my body. The heat wakes me up quicker then the sugary cups of coffee my wife chooses to fix for me. She does it to wake herself and feels I need the same. I can imagine her in their now. Frying some eggs for me and fixing some chia Pudding for herself. Turning on the coffee maker only to see we are out of filters….as is tradition on Mondays. She’s probably potting in frustation……she…..*thump Thump* Yup she is definitely doing this right now….I can hear little perfect feet, tramping down the wood floors towards our bedroom. She is probably throwing on some pants, socks and shoes. Pulling her curly hair into a ponytail and grabbing her coat

   “Hey I’m running to the store we are out of Filters. I’ll be back!”  And  there go the jingle of my keys and out the door she goes. As always on Monday…

   I turn off the water quickly and grab my robe in a hurry into the kitchen. Dripping wet or not, I know she forgot to turn off the stove as always. Two hairs of turning my Fuffy eggs…into yellow chewy burnt rubber. Yes this is what she does all the time….

    I stopped in my tracks stunned….not only was the stove turned off…but my eggs were already cooked. And the coffee is finished brewing….and she didn’t use the Iron skillet like I thought she did. She used the new pan. My god she finally didn’t burn Mondays breakfast. I’m proud of her. Just when I thought she was stuck in her ways….I laughed to myself and then weirdly looked at the coffee again.

“But wait…she said she ran to get a filter. But the coffee.” I opened up to see a filter was already in there. Fresh and brand new… In fact… opening up the pantry…there it was…filters were already here.

  I walked back to our bedroom to text her about the filters. Did she think we didn’t have any? Or maybe I heard her wrong? Maybe. So I dried off my hair and grabbed my phone and text her:

   “Babe come back we already have Filters….love you”. And I send it I waited to see if she would reply….a few mins go by….nothing. Oh well I thought. Good she shouldn’t answer anyway she is driving my Mercedes after all.

  “Pay attention to the road Sweetie” I chimed as I went into my closet to reach for a shirt. Just then I noticed something odd….Her Hoodie…Why is sitting in our lounge chair….folded up?

She wouldn’t take it off just to go to the Store…she didn’t wash yet, she wouldn’t put on clean clothes before a shower…just some pajamas pants at best. That’s very odd of her to do…

   I thought about texting her again, but she might be driving still. I don’t want to call or text again. Not over something so novel. But it is out of her nature…shoot. This morning is out of her nature. Breakfast and coffee already made. Heading to the store for filters, when the cabinet is already stocked with them. My favorite, HER favorite Hoodie folded up in a chair. What a odd Monday morning I thought to myself. And shrugged and proceeded to fully dress and ready for work.

 I Moved a bit slower dressing since I didn’t have to be out the door as early as Ronda…It was 6am now…and Ronda didn’t have to leave for work for another hour. I looked over at the bed and noticed something else odd…she didn’t have her nurse attire out for work. Is she off today and forgot to tell me? Is she running late?....for once? Noooo….My Ronda might have been quirky, forgetful and easily flustered by things out of order; she was always on time. Never late for a class…and never late for work. 7am the clock will chime and out the door she will go. With her hair neatly pinned up in a bun and her bookbag packed and Jacket on.

She grab her small mason jar of Chia pudding out the fridge as I slowly sip my over sweet black coffee and feel her sweet kiss on my cheek and here her chirp “Bye sweetie.” And proceed to take it upon herself to grab my car keys from in front of me; and chime “You don’t mind If I drive right?”

 And I’d smile and say “You know I don’t know mind sweetie…I’ll take regional rail to campus today.” And she’ll smile once more and say “I love you…” and run out the door before I can fully finish my “Love you too.” So on cue of us…so sweet…and timely for Monday.

But this Monday…this Monday was different…it is now 6:15 and she still is not back from the store. I am fully dressed and she still is not back. Her clothes are not out, My hoodie not on her lovely body. Breakfast cooked! Coffee made! What the hell is going on today? I thought to myself as I straightened out my button up suite shirt and grabbed a tie that was just lying around.

I quickly tied it on as I reenter the kitchen…the sun now slightly shining through our kitchen window. My breakfast of eggs on the table….and the dishes…..where? Where are my dishes?! I shouted as I looked at silver sink…clear of the old iron skillet….not even dishes from last nights dinner of lasagna. I know I didn’t do them. What gives with this woman?! She has done the same thing every Monday for over a year that we’ve lived in this apartment and now she wants to change up? The nerve of her! I joked!

I charged into the bedroom and text her sarcastically “OHHHH so you changing up on me now huh? What’s the gag? Is there a surprise you are planning for me? Or a anniversary of some sort! A “This is day we first kissed” anniversary that I forgot? Is that it??”

 I waited for her reply…her smart and snappy little texts she would clap back on. She loved nick picking with me…and it wasn’t like her to back down during a text war. And I know she knows this is a text war!

 Mins go by nothing….nothing. I look at are clock 6:30….half hr before work and still not home. Something is up!

Wait!

The sound of the door and keys could be heard coming in the door and small perfect feet entering the kitchen. I rush into the kitchen with a smirk on my face…burning to say my piece to the time and organize geek.

 “Uh huh…Going to the store for filters huh? Breakfast already cooked, coffee made yeah you slipped there. No clothes on the bed. And my hoodie…not on your fine little body. All of it gave you away what are you up to Ronda?”

As I walked in the kitchen to lay eyes on my beautiful wife, I quickly saw something was wrong. It was all in her frame. Even with her back turned from me, Her tiny little frame…was more hippy than before. Her usually either in a bun, or wild and curly in the morning; was now cropped in a short pixie cut. She stood stiff….I stood stiff….She could feel me behind her staring. I whispered… “Ronda…?”

As she turned her head slowly to show me those hazel eyes…those bedroom eyes I adored…she reveal to me eyes….almond….and dark rich brown; full of sadness….”

“Ronda??” I wimpered….

“No….” she answered in a shaky voice…. Fighting back tears “Oh Hank” she whispered turning away again to dig in the bag in front her full of groceries. I could hear her snifling…as she pulled out a carton of milk, pancake mix and sugar.

 As I sat down in front of my plate staring at it… thinking…silent….then she spoke out…

“I saw you were out of a few things so I ran to the store for you. I’d cooked earlier…I don’t have to be at the hospital until 1:30 today….

“ How did you get in here Sammy?”

Sammie began to shake as she continued putting the food items in the fridge.

“ You gave me your spare remember….you gave me her spare key…” Sammy trailed off. She then straightened up her posture and quickly walked past me.

“I see you are dressed….Hank you still have a few more weeks off for leave you don’t have to go back today” I didn’t answer her…she stood in the hall…I could feel her staring at me. I didn’t look…until I heard her move towards a bag of clothes near the living room. I quickly jumped and said

“What are you doing? Sam! What are you doing give me that!”

I quickly rushed and snatched the bag from her, she jumped back a bit and went into the living and got on the phone….I began opening up the bag of clothes…it was Ronda’s clothes….Ronda? Was she leaving me?

Sam was whisperinh on my land line I over heard her say “I think you should…yea its gotten worse.” When I walked into the living she quickly said “ok ok see you shortly.” And hung up my phone.

“Michael…is on his way. Your brother is coming over to see you…do you uh…need anything before I head out?”

“Yeah…call my wife she should have been here by now what time is it?” I looked over at the clock.

Yeah its almost 7. What are you two up to? What’s with the bag of clothes…and why you in our house all times of the morning! She gave you our key? She is not answering her phone! Her clothes! Her clothes are not on the bed they should be on the bed! She dragged out of our room this morning! MADE BREAKFAST NO CONPLAINTS! She didn’t come in the bathroom! To see if I used those towels…..this this!

I ran and grabbed it

“This bloody ugly towel! No don’t touch my towel. NO BETTE DAVIS LINES! NO HAZEL EYES! NO OVER SUGARY COFFEE! And she is not wearing my Temple Hoodie! She left with me car…..she always texts me back she….she….”

I look at my wife’s best friend….and her eyes are full of tears….the whites of her eyes are red and she is shaking and trying not to break into sobs. She then walks over to me and hugs me. She then whimpers out a low groaning and painful

“I am….so….sorry…..I’M SO SORRY HANK! OH GOD.” She then let me go and then sat on the couch and stared at a picture of Ronda and I. Sitting on the coffee table.

I slowly walked to my room and looked at her hoodie….Our Temple hoodie laying neatly folded on our lounge chair. Grabbed it in my hands…and still smelled her scent on it….i held it close to me……And remembered what happened 3 weeks ago.

4:46am….we both erected ourselves from bed. I dragged myself into the bathroom as she pushed her into the kitchen. Where she complained about the iron skillet she hated…but always used. She nagged about me using her decorative towels…and called me the duke of Buckingham and quoted Bette Davis in All about eve. I showered and she rush into our room, to pick up some filters from the store. I finished and dressed and text her to hurry up…I need my car today. She came back and I ate my  breakfast as she dressed and readied herself in the next room.

7am she was always out the door…no sooner…or later…her hair neat in a bun and her book bag packed. I sipped my sugary black coffee and she kissed me on my cheek and said “bye sweetie”

 “You don’t mind if I drive the car do you?” and I say as always “You always take the car on Monday…ill take the regional rail love.”

Then she smiled and grabbed her coat quickly before I could change my mind. Then chimed I love you….and was out the door….way before I could finish my “I love you tooo….”

I love you too...I love you too……I love you too.

I repeated…holding on to my Wife’s…favorite Hoodie…that she hasn’t slept in….in weeks.

 

 

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