I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a work in progress.
“Will I see you later?”
“I’ll be around.”
He followed her out the door and then watched through rose-colored sclera as her Tucson rolled down the steep asphalt driveway, dotted with pinecones and needles, to the canyon road below. He could hear her SUV accelerate as she rapidly attained highway speed and was gone.
He scratched the emerging stubble on his neck before sitting down on the front steps with his coffee cup. The mug had acquired a crack across the handle he hadn’t noticed before. He set his coffee on the wooden porch and leaned back, cradling his throbbing head in his palms. His gut, empty and jittery, gurgled in protest over the last remnants of tequila and salsa from the night before. He yawned and stretched, popping the cartilage in his elbows. The vibration from his shifting rump created concentric circles in his drink, like the rings on a stump that reveal its years. He felt as if his rings were amassing at an accelerated rate. Another year, another bevy of conquests. Another ring.
Trees retained scars in their rings. Fire, disease, infestation. His rings no longer displayed scars. His impassivity deflected such penetrating injuries.
He thought about the waitress, the one with the octopus tattoo, the one that had chided him about his car. He wondered if that was what he sacrificed, or even more deflating, who he sacrificed, by bagging a plenitude of Tucson-types over the years. Is that what maturing amounted to, finally seeking a meaningful relationship over a bottomless cistern of vapid encounters? Or did aging simply equate to regret toward the choices he had made?