Exit Denied (3-26-18)

[WP] No exit [Link to post.]

“Yeah, I’ll be there in five minutes,” Fred said to his wife through the cellphone. He left work late, which delayed their dinner plans. She was not happy with him. “I’m turning off no- ah shit.” Orange and white barrels blocked the freeway exit. “I’m gonna be a bit longer. Yes EVEN LONGER! It’s not my fault they closed the exit. Big sign said ‘No Exit’. Yes, I KNOW they weren’t doing construction this morning, but what do you want me to do? It’s blocked off. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Fred hung up the phone and tossed it to the passenger seat. He shook his head and chuckled to himself for consolation. “When did she get so bad?” He asked himself, then turned the radio up for company. 

Half a mile later, more orange and white barrels interfered with his escape. “No Exit” displayed on a flashing yellow and black sign. His cellphone rang. He glanced to the passenger seat for a second to see his wife’s face, with the text “Honeybun” as her contact name. 

“It’d serve her right if I kept driving for a few more exits,” he said with slight grin. He reached for the phone and flipped it over to avoid the guilt. When they first met, he’d have done anything for her. They were a pair of clueless college freshman, new to the real world and brimming with hope. One week after their first meeting they kissed. Two weeks after their first meeting they discussed marriage. 

“No Exit.” Fred drove past another blocked exit while he reminisced. He kept driving and remembering. 

“I’ll love you forever.” Fred told her three weeks after they met. He wore a powder blue leisure suite, an inside joke for them, in front of a Justice of the Peace. 

“You’d better, or don’t bother coming home,” she said. She wore a black wedding dress while they held hands. She repeated his sentiment of eternal love, then they kissed. He laughed at the memory.

“She used to have a sense of humor. What happened to her?” Fred wondered aloud as he passed another blocked exit. He did not register it, he wasn’t looking to leave the freeway anymore. His phone rang. He flipped it over, saw “Honeybun”, then placed it back on the seat face down.

“I could have stayed and gotten some work done if we weren’t going to dinner,” Fred grumbled at the responsibilities he was shirking to spend time with his wife. He worked hard to get where he was. He quit school to support his new wife, and landed a job as a dishwasher at the fanciest restaurant in town. During the 15 years of their marriage he worked himself up to the top. Now he owned that restaurant, and was considering locations for a second one. 

“Is she unhappy that I work so much?” Fred asked the empty car. “Nah, I make plenty of time for her.” They scheduled date nights monthly and he always asked about her day.  He knew that couldn’t be the reason. 

“No Exit.” Another closed ramp. 

“She hasn’t smiled in years, there must be something else going on,” Fred reasoned. A short single notification chimed from his phone. He recognized it as a calendar notification and reached for the phone.  

“Tomorrow: Investor lunch 12-4. Anniversary Dinner 5-6. White roses. Be back in time for dinner rush.” He swiped the notification away. 

“Shit, I can’t believe I forgot the investors.” Fred tossed the phone on the seat and kept driving.

“No Exit.” Another escape blocked off. Fred didn’t notice. 

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