Apart From You (Miserable Tales)

Apart From You

Don felt light, free. He hit the button on the radio and danced along with the pop tunes. In the middle of a pirouette, he opened the fridge door but stopped short as he saw a bowl of minced meat. Not even meatloaf could ruin this fine day; it might even make it better. Travis loved meatloaf.

He took out the bowl before glancing at the clock. Where had this day gone? He couldn’t remember doing anything. His heart sped up. Apart from getting up this morning, he couldn’t recall any part of the day.

Don tried to shrug it off, but the lightness in his chest was gone. He forced himself to breathe and went to get the dried bread crumbs out of the pantry.

The handle was sticky in his hand. He pressed it down, ignoring the way the hairs on his neck stood on edge. The light flicked on, and he steeled himself.

His shelves were discoloured. A dark brownish red liquid was everywhere. The pantry resembled a butcher’s shop. Cuts of meat were hanging from the ceiling. The rusty smell made him wrinkle his nose. Don’s eyes fell on Travis wedding ring. It shone brightly in the light of the lamp, still attached to a hand—Travis’ hand.

The sharp taste of bile took over Don’s mouth; he had to swallow it down. What was Travis’ hand doing there?

He took a step back, closed the pantry door, and raised his hand to rub his forehead. His fingers were stained, his nails dirty. Sweat coated his skin. How could he have missed how soggy his clothes were? A splatter of dark red was all over him.

Then he started laughing. What had he been thinking? Meatloaf? There was already a steak in the oven.

 

(First published as part of Discovery: QSF’s Second Annual Flash Fiction Contest in 2015)