He found a place where he wouldn’t be judged when he shouted at her. The only listeners would be birds.

Then he suggested a drive in the country.

‘Are you nuts? I hate the country.’

‘I’ve packed a picnic. Like old times.’

‘Old times. Ha.’ Her lip curled. Her chipped teeth showed. ‘OK. Old times.’

As they drove into the pasturelands she began to relax. ‘You still think everything can be fixed, don’t you?’

‘Between us? No Heddy. But you could be better.’

‘You think I’m sick?’

‘Look at yourself.’ The silence between them hummed with accusation and denial. They never said ‘addict’ or ‘junkie’ any more except when Victor was shouting, and he was determined not to shout today. ‘I want to show you a place. Maybe we can make a go of it.’

In the end she agreed. It was that or keep sliding. Life in their shared patch of green went through every stage of hell before things started feeling right. Heddy rediscovered the dreamy optimism Victor had loved in her. They started planning an organic garden. They bought chickens and a goat.

Then, while Victor was in the town buying supplies, she left on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle. Victor found the plastic syringe cap on their laundry floor. Only birds heard his screams.

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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