Starbound

 

 by Alex A. Kecskes

 

 

  Chapter 1

 

           Sometimes Jonathan gets a good night’s sleep; other nights, he stares at the ceiling thinking about her. Rooms once alive with her scent, her clothes, her infectious laugh, now seem empty, small and dark. The bathroom still has her toothbrush next to his and the dinner table remains set for two. Always a bone of contention, the TV remote lies in the center of the sectional. Occasionally, he’ll watch a Lifetime movie—she loved them—instead of a hockey game.

            Their New York apartment is high enough to let in the sun at dawn. He’s already awake when the alarm clock goes off. She’d bought it before they were married. Shaped like a dove, its soft, barely audible wind-chime sounds often didn’t wake him, so she would—in many different ways. He reaches for the clock but it slips off the nightstand and rolls under the bed. “Shit.” It’s the word he uses now. She’d weened him off the four-letter word soon after they met.

            Stumbling into the kitchen, he’s feeling the absence of not working out at the gym. They used to go together. She’d push him hard, while she barely broke a sweat, her single-digit BMI, the envy of most girls in the building. There were times when they fought, when she’d lose her temper and start yelling at him in French. It would take roses and a night at the opera to make her smile again.

            He peels and cores an avocado, tosses it into the blender with a handful of blueberries, a raw egg, and, lately, a bit of gin. She’d bought him the blender for their third wedding anniversary. “You need to eat healthier, you’re approaching middle age now,” she’d say, her arms wrapped around him as he opened it.

         

       His finger finds the highest speed button and the blender efficiently emulsifies everything--producing enough decibels to qualify as ear-damaging. It makes him grimace. Not so much because of the noise, but because he’d often used it to shut her out—after she got sick. A mea culpa makes him shake his head.