This month’s flash fiction song inspiration is God of Ocean Tides by Counting Crows. As much as I love them, I hadn’t heard this song before. I put it on repeat on my drive to work one morning and….bam! Inspiration.
How long had he been driving? Ethan didn’t even know at this point. All he could remember were headlights and gas stations and billboards lining the dark highways. As soon as he had read the note, he’d jumped in the car and started heading south, knowing that’s where she would go. Where Maddie always went. It was sacred to her.
Her note had said only, “I’m leaving, please just let me go.”
As if he could.
Sometime around midnight he crossed through Tennessee, skirting around Memphis, barely noticing when he crossed the state line into Mississippi. Every mile bringing him closer to Maddie.
The sun was coming up when he reached the coast, throwing orange and pink across the shimmering Gulf. Ethan drove to the pier, only recently rebuilt, the one Maddie had shown him on their first trip here, the one she had played on as a child. The one where her grandfather had taken her fishing. The one she had fallen off when she was only three. As he parked the car and climbed out, he saw her standing at the end, a lone figure silhouetted against the rising sun.
Although she must have heard his footsteps in the quiet morning, she didn’t acknowledge him until he was standing next to her, leaning on the railing
“I asked you to just let me go.” Her voice was quiet but resigned. Like she had been anticipating him.
“I don’t know how you expect me to do that, Maddie. No reason, no warning. Three years, and I come home from my dad’s house to a note. What the hell?” Ethan had promised himself he would stay calm, but his voice was steadily rising. “Don’t I at least deserve some kind of explanation? Aren’t I worth that?” The last was yelled, out in the direction of the waves.
Taking a calming breath, he turned back to Maddie to see tears streaming down her face. “Why are you crying? You did this.”
The venom in his voice was almost impossible to stand, but in the end, it would make things easier. Steeling herself, she said, “I never loved you.” Maddie’s heart broke as she told the lie.
“I don’t believe you.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s true. I stayed because it was comfortable, but I can’t do that anymore. Please, Ethan, just go. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.” Refusing to make eye contact, she ignored the glare she could feel heating the side of her face. A few minutes passed in silence before she heard him spin around and stalk back down the pier.
As his car started and he sped off, Maddie’s tears flowed harder, if that was possible. Her hands drifted down to rest lightly on her soon-to-be bump. “It’s okay, baby,” she whispered. “It’s better this way. He never wanted kids. Now he won’t feel obligated and we can go be happy somewhere else.”