The Instigator

I wrote “The Instigator,” today for Finish That Thought. The thought was “If only I’d gotten her ten minutes earlier,” but I changed up the pronoun. For the special challenge, I had to include a word starting with each letter of the alphabet. Here you go! Once again, I am incapable of writing a happy story.

The Instigator
@laurenegreene
478 words
If only we’d gotten there ten minutes earlier.

“Bear plus food do not mix,” my wife said, when she saw the ravaged campsite.

We’d been watching the sunrise at the top of the peak when the bear attacked. While the sun spread its glorious hues of ultra violet rays over the earth, the bear tore into the freeze-dried packs my wife, unknowingly, had left out beside our packs.

“Rats, I wonder where it came from.”

“Oh, I don’t know, let’s see, the zoo. We’re in the middle of the freaking Appalachian Mountains, Jessica.”

“Jeez, Quint, you don’t have to yell at me.”

We had decided to take this trip, a two week hike in the Appalachians, as a way to repair our marriage, but instead of the bonding experience we had been looking for, the vacation had mirrored our tumultuous relationship.

“Maybe we should call Lyle to come pick us up,” Jessica said. She had the map spread out, sitting cross-legged in the dirt in front of the tent. A torn half empty bag of freeze dried beans stood by her Merrells.

“I’d never get in the car with that guy again, xenophobe that he is.”

“Oh come on, Quint. He’s harmless. What’s our other choice?”

“We stop in the town up the road, buy more food and keep going.”

“Isn’t that what we’ve been doing this whole time, keeping it going, despite a clear lack of sustenance?”

I hated when Jessica got all hoity toity on me and created analogies about our relationship. It was a side effect of her psychological practice. Psychologists have their own disease: know-everything-itis. She was staring through the map instead of at it. I sat down on the dirt next to her, and offered up the comfort of my arm, but she scooted further away from me. The Great Divide. Hurt pride, but I shook it off. I’d gotten so good at doing that.

“Here, this little town. Kunkletown. Funny little name, and not too far.”

“I wonder if they have cell service there,” Jessica said, as she folded the map and stuffed it into her back pack.

“Why?” I asked, but she just shook her head.

We wordlessly took the tent down and packed our bags. Stillness rose between us, like the quiet of the sunrise, only an hour before. In that moment, hope had sprung to me like the dawn of the new day, but the bear had dashed all of that making the tension stand between us like an unwanted lover.

Kunkletown was a nice little town. I stayed there, getting myself together for two days after Jessica left with Lyle. I thought maybe I could move to this little town that housed only a church, a few houses and a general store. Then, maybe I could find the hope I had lost in one moment on the trail.

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