The Smoking Road: Part 1

The day had been hot, his shirt stuck to his back and his jeans burned at his legs. He looked towards the setting sun and squinted at the oncoming traffic. Wiping the sweat away from his eyes he carried on walking. ‘It had to be here somewhere.’ His mind turned the thought over repeatedly. He once again walked along the side of the road looking down at the tar. He had been at the same stretch of road for the past three hours looking for it. He fought off his doubt and bent over reaching his hand out. His fingers wrapped around a piece of paper. ‘Perhaps this was it?’ He wondered as he carefully un-crumpled the bundled paper. Another false hope, he scrunched it up again and shoved it into his pocket with the others. ‘How could she be so cruel?’ He thought again. Then he remembered the look in her eyes and remembered she was hurting. She didn’t mean to be cruel. He tried to convince himself of that.
“Need a ride?” A voice asked from a barely open window of a car that had just pulled up.
“I’m good thanks.” He replied with a small smile and went back to his search. ‘Maybe it had gone down the storm drain?’ His thoughts darkened as his eyes landed on the concrete slabs. Memories he would rather forget raced through his mind. Giving up he walked back to the garage where he had parked his car. The shade from the trees was long gone. The heat enveloped him as he climbed in behind the wheel. He started the engine and held back the swearwords from the burning steering wheel. He made the short trip home and dumped the scraps of paper he had carefully collected onto the dining room table. He turned on the fan and watched the wild rotation of the fan’s blades. The warm stale air started to move. Grateful for some air movement he went to the kitchen and rummaged around for some tape. Once he had found the thin clear tape he grabbed the scissors and sat on the only chair at the dining room table. Meticulously he started piecing back together the torn scraps of paper. Once a section made sense he would tape it in place. Once all the scraps were in place he read the untidy scrawl.
“I’m sorry but I love you.” 
The words darkened his mood. He folded the letter and changed into his running shorts and shoes. He unraveled his head phones and hit play. The music blasted at his brain. He then neatly folded the note and carefully tucked it away in an envelope filled with others that had met the same fate. Once the envelope was put away he left the house. His gate barely open wide enough before his shoes beat at the tar. Matching his pace to the beat of the music he ran. ‘Her words are a lie’. He repeated each time one of his feet made contact with the asphalt. If she loved him she wouldn’t torture him like this. If she loved him she would stay. He knew he was being selfish but he just couldn’t have them still be in limbo like they were. He needed to have her make a decision. It was while he told her this that she shredded the note and threw it out the window of the car. It had become a sort of ritual for them. He would go back and pick up the shredded pieces and put it back together. She didn’t know that he collected the pieces, she didn’t know he had read her secret thoughts. However quite often most of the message was gone with the wind and he was left wondering what had been going through her mind.


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