Good-Bye | A Short Story By Sara Ann Comte
Roger stormed up the porch and pounded on the screen door. His face was flushed and his hands clammy, yet he wasn’t going to let that deter him. This had to happen. If he was going to move on, if he was going to rid himself of her, if he couldn’t have her, this was he way it must be.
He waited close to a minute, he was sure, before he pounded a second time. Where was she? She must be home. She’s always home. But no answer. He pounded again.
She was doing this on purpose, he knew it. Her disagreeable character had no bounds. She was always ready to make him feel as uncomfortable and as angry as possible. Well, if she didn’t want closure, that was fine. He did what he could. He must leave, and leave he would.
He started down the steps, stomping harshly on each one. On the last, his foot fell through the wood, which caught the buckle of his boot. He swore under his breath and yanked his foot back. Of course, now there was a great big hole and he was the cause of it. She couldn’t fix that on her own. She had no tools. He’d have to tell Mr. Harley to take care of it tomorrow.
Tomorrow, the day he would be gone. The day he would say good-bye to this place and Abigail forever.
Where was that blasted Abigail?
Roger pulled himself from his reverie and furiously walked down the path to the road. As he approached the small fence that was peeling paint, he heard her sweet, enticing, voice. “Roger!” Abigail called.
Roger froze. Don’t give in, he told himself. Don’t let her pull you back in.
“Roger,” she called again, quietly this time. “Have you come to say good-bye?”
That was it, the dart in his heart to keep his fury in check. He swirled around and stomped back to her. “Good-bye?” he shouted. “Good-bye? Well, of course. Why not? It’s good-bye you want after all.”
“No,” she replied softly, “but it’s ‘good-bye’ that must be said, right?”
“Why?” he roared. “Why must it be ‘good-bye’? Why not ‘hello’ or ‘stay’?” His voice broke on the last word, and all his anxiety and fear and loss and hopelessness bubbled to the surface.
Abigail, with tears in her eyes, met Roger’s gaze. “Because it can’t be anything but ‘good-bye.’ I’m sorry.” Her voice broke as well and she looked away.
Roger reached out a hand and gently touched her shoulder. “It doesn’t though. Just tell me to stay.”
“I can’t.” She wouldn’t look at him but wiped away a tear. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
“But you want to.” It wasn’t a question. He knew. He could see it in her trembling body.
She nodded but still wouldn’t look at him.
“He’s not coming back,” he murmured.
She finally looked at him and tears spilled from her eyes, rushing down her cheeks. “You know?” she queried.
He nodded. He knew. Mr. Harley had spilled the beans to him. It was because she was married, married to a man she had not seen in ten years. Yet, she would remain faithful. Childless, loveless, and faithful. “I know,” he confirmed with words. “It’s been so long. He’s not coming back. Please tell me to stay.”
She shook her head. “I can’t. It’s not right.”
“But he’s not here. He may never be here. File for divorce. Forget him.”
“No,” she cried. “I’m sorry, Roger. I’m sorry.”
He shook his head. “Please,” he begged.
“I can’t.” She squared her shoulders and stepped away. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”
He set his jaw. “Then I guess this is good-bye.”
She nodded, keeping her mouth shut.
He turned to leave.
“Wait!” she called.
He turned around hopeful. But she ran to the porch, grabbed something, and ran back. She held out her hand.
“What is it?” he asked, keeping his hands at his side.
“Please,” she pleaded, “take it.” Another set of tears rushed down her cheeks. “To remember me.”
“What if I don’t want to remember?”
“You will. I will. Take it.” She grabbed his hand and gently pushed something small and smooth in his hands and closed his fingers. “I love you,” she whispered and ran back to the porch and in the house.
He waited for her to come back out, and declare she was wrong, that she had made a mistake. But she didn’t. She stayed inside, away from him.
“Good-bye,” he whispered to the closed door, turned, and walked down the path, away from Abigail forever.
When he was almost to town, he finally opened his palm. It in was a small, metal vase. He was puzzled. How would this help him remember her? It had no significance that he could think of. And then he laughed, just a little, remembering: “If I were to give something to a man, it would bare no significance because then it would be even more intriguing,” she had told him once with a wicked smile.
He grinned as he remembered. He would definitely remember her.