Happy Anniversary

by Steven Boswell

Happy Anniversary

He heard her enter the room. “Good morning, honey! Happy anniversary!” No response, just some laborious grunts.

He looked up from his book and bemusedly watched her lugging a heavy suitcase. “I didn’t know we were going on a trip! How thoughtful!”

“No, I’m leaving you,” she announced. “I’ve met someone else.”

He laughed as he closed the book. “Going off to live with Terry, are you?”

Her eyes opened wide. “What the…how’d you know his name? Have you been going through my phone?!”

He shook his head. “Didn’t need to.” He furrowed his brow. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to date your dealer? You’d leave a loving husband for someone like that?”

Her jaw dropped. “You knew about the drugs? Have you been going through my stuff?!”

He sighed. “Didn’t need to.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter,” she huffed. “You’re boring! I need excitement! And Terry gives me that!”

“You could have brought this up sooner,” he reminded her. “Not wait until you’ve built up all this angst. How was I to know?”

“It doesn’t matter if you know!” she roared. “You still bore me to tears!”

“I give you comfort and security!” he declared. “A lot of women would be thrilled to have so much.”

“Not me!” she retorted, grabbing her suitcase and marching to the front door.

His shoulders slumped. “I really don’t know you at all, do I.”

She flung open the front door, then stopped cold. “What the—”

There was nothing past the door but empty space. An odd background glow softened the black to a shade closer to charcoal. No wind blew.

“Where are we?!” she demanded, turning to look through a window, which showed a bucolic garden and a white picket fence. “And how come I can see—”

She flung the window open to reveal the same murkiness. The peaceful image remained on the window.

She turned to face him, eyes full of fear. “What’s going on?”

He smiled sadly. “You’re in Purgatory. I’m in Heaven. You don’t remember anything, do you?”

She stood there, staring at him, not speaking.

“You really destroyed me in the divorce,” he related. “I drank myself to death three months after this day. Terry dumped you for someone younger, and you ended up homeless. I only lived a few days longer than you; they found you overdosed in an alleyway.”

She shivered involuntarily. “So we’re dead?”

He nodded somberly. “I’ve been trying to rescue you ever since. Call me a fool, but I still love you. I try repeatedly to prevent you from moving on to Hell, but it’s been a waste of effort.”

She glared at him in shock. He continued.

“In all that time, you’ve never changed your mind. You just make the same self-destructive decision, over and over.”

She looked around uneasily. “How long has this been going on?”

He sobbed quietly. “One hundred and twenty six years, today.”

She visibly blanched. He looked her straight in the eye.

“Happy anniversary, honey.”

About the author

Steven Boswell

Steven Boswell has been writing fiction since he was three years old, was a regular participant in his high school’s yearly anthologies, and served as a staff writer for his college’s humor periodical. Although choosing a career in the software field, his heart has never been far from the fiction writing he has enjoyed all his life. Steven is the author of two books, “Playtime’s Consequences” and “The Mystery of the Real Live Dead Person.” Presently, he lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and works very hard to keep airplanes from falling out of the sky. Major literary influences include Philip K. Dick, H.P. Lovecraft, and Harlan Ellison.

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