Inspired by: Temporary Like Achilles
Veronica woke up to her new normal. She rolled over in bed and remembered that she was alone. She sniffed and recognized the smell of smoke permeating her house.
She ran into the kitchen, terrified that she left a burner on overnight to find Duke, attempting to cook breakfast. It wasn’t something he did before they broke up, and it doesn’t seem he learned anything in the last week.
“What are you doing here?” Veronica asked.
“I just thought that we had a long enough history that we shouldn’t just give it all up suddenly.”
“Uh, huh. Zoe dumped you as soon as you bailed her out?”
“I don’t want to see you anymore.”
“But we love each other.”
“No, I hate you.”
“I love you.”
“You told me yesterday you hate me!”
“That’s because I spent the night in jail! I hate our free week. We rob someone, go crazy for a week, live like a normal couple until we run out of money, and do it all over again. I only like the normal couple part.”
Veronica watched Duke plate his burnt bacon, charred scrambled eggs, and discs that must be pancakes, but like none she’d ever seen. He put the plates on the dining room table and motioned for her to join him.
She reluctantly sat down but at a forty-five-degree angle so that she wasn’t facing him.
“I’ll be honest. I don’t know how much of this is edible.” He said, trying to break the ice.
Veronica picked up a fork and tried to cut into a pancake, and the whole thing crumbled into dust. Duke laughed.
“Listen. I know things have been tense between us, but I just want to be with you. I want to get a regular job. I want to have a savings account. I don’t want to be on the run for the rest of my life.”
“I wanted to be with you too. If you could have used your words instead of finding someone to run off with, maybe. And now, if you hadn’t been dumped, you wouldn’t be here. How am I supposed to feel like the consolation prize?”
“Zoe was the consolation prize. I’ve been trying to have you for a decade. We never even got married. You can’t settle down.”
“We said we didn’t need to be married. It was just a formality. We were supposed to be together forever.”
Duke got down on one knee and removed a ring from his pocket.
“No, dude! Read the room. I’m still furious with you.”
Duke tried to steel himself but still looked disappointed.
“I’m trying Veronica. I’ll leave this here and give you a couple days. I love you.”
Duke stood up and walked out of the apartment. When she heard the door close, Veronica reached for the ring and tried it on. Immediately upset with herself, she tore it off and threw it across the room and had no idea where it landed.