Saturday, May 2, 2015

Carl Scharwath: Short Fiction

Thrift Store


Thrift stores seem to be everywhere, germinating from the shells of abandoned strip-malls and filling 
the facades of failed businesses with new economic realities.

Today is my turn to visit one. The dawn greets me with a liquid atmosphere releasing droplets of a
cheap paperback novel gray, and I, Sofia the actress, begin to fill the scene.

Gary, my husband of thirty years was laid off from his management job, and two years later, has still
not found a new career. Our home is in foreclosure and our seventeen-year old daughter wants to enter
college.

Today, Gary sleeps late on a weekday, oblivious to our financial fate; my order is to find him a decent
used suit for his job interview. The new thrift store, one block from our house might just fill the need. I
have always been curious what surprises and treasures might present themselves there.

In the parking lot the cracks are already consumed by nature-- the grass attempts to break free of the
confinement and breathe again. The new thrift store contains high end clothing from estate sales, so I
am sure to find a nice suit for my husband. The entrance was designated “Door” which seemed odd.
The window appeared as a dream. Beautiful dresses cloaked in the reflections of kissing clouds. The
prismatic colors beckon me to fly through the molecules of glass and return to my high-school age
where my life could start over with a future mine to decide.

My love for Gary ended two years ago; the first time he hit me. His job loss caused a change in him,
with the drinking and coming home late from god knows where. He made me believe I was to blame
for all of his problems and this culminated in constant physical and emotional abuse   Mom worshiped
Gary, making the choice that her daughter would marry him after college graduation. She concluded
that he would be successful, and a loving husband. I wonder what she would think of him now. Her
own daughter, covering bruises with makeup, her self-esteem a memory, with thoughts about suicide.
Lying to her daughter about the child’s father and what he does.

Everything was always planned for me, and with my subdued personality; I felt my life was never truly mine. The love once held for my husband has turned to hatred and the suit to be bought today I dream to one day bury him in.

The thrift store is amazing, so many things to discover. The collections of used books hold my
attention for more than an hour. I’ve always reveled in the discovery of a new author or great story. I
am an English major who always wanted to be a writer; until household duties, raising a daughter, and
pleasing my husband slowly sucked any creative life from me. The suit hangs alone and is the deepest
black color I could ever imagine. The way it’s silhouetted against the bright yellow wall causes me to
imagine an abstract painting of a man's torso attempting to free itself from captivity. The suit, beautiful
and hardly worn, is now in my possession. I apprehensively viewed the tag and the size was perfect for
my husband. Although my love for Gary is long gone, I still want to do something special for him in
his time of need.

Gary would be home and I wanted to surprise him before taking the outfit to the cleaners. While in
the car at a traffic light, I moved the suit higher against the seat and felt something in the top pocket.
What great mystery would announce itself in my hands? My heartbeat increased as a familiar face
looked back from the graying atmosphere of the picture. It was my high school prom photo, with me wearing a smug Mona-Lisa smile, oblivious to how my future would turn against me. I turned the
picture and a creation of words appeared, smudged and faded into oblivion and forever silent.

Shaking, I had to pull over to the side of the road and ‘Google’ Ames. He was my lover for four years
until my mother coerced me to break up with him. His crime was quitting college after the first
semester. Mom was happy to remind me that my boyfriend would never amount to anything. I started
to cry, the first search result staring at me was an obituary announcing his death at fifty years old. Ames
died three weeks ago and I would never have the chance to say goodbye and that I always loved him.
Through my tears I continued to read that he did not marry and owned five clothing stores.

I began to drive again. I knew what I had to do— drive to my favorite secluded woods overlooking
the town, open the glove box and gently lay the tiny handgun I carried for protection in my lap. My
husband, the failure, the wife beater would have his final message from me. A suicide note placed in
the top pocket of the suit with the bloodstains of his wife who made a wrong decision long ago and now only wanted to be with Ames and die with his picture at her side.

 The gun muzzle sat against my temple, when the horror of my face reflected back in the rear-view
mirror. A younger version of me emerged, so young I seemed to transform into my daughter's
reflection. How could the past continue to make the choice for my future? My daughter needed her
mother's love and Ames would never forgive me. I defiantly placed the gun back to the emptiness of a
near mistake. Today would become my second chance and tomorrow would be mine to control. The

suicide note would be replaced with a letter proclaiming my future and demanding a divorce.

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