“If you let another person affect your art in a way you don’t want, you’ll become dead inside and you’ll end up hating them.”
That’s what someone once told me. I learned to live by those words.
When my wife wanted complete control of our finances, I stopped looking at account balances and bills. I just hoped she would let me know if there was a problem. She never mentioned any.
When she wanted control over the layout of the new house, I stepped back and hoped she would put my office in a quiet place. She did not. She put it in her craft room. I didn’t complain. I just wore my headphones while I worked, and that was enough to block out the sound of her moving in and out and almost enough to block out the sound of her sewing machine.
There were other things, many other things, and I always lay down or bent over, whatever the situation called for. Then she demanded, not asked, not suggested, demanded, to be first editor of my fiction.
That meant I couldn’t show anyone else a piece of my fiction before I showed her. When the screaming stopped, I got on the computer, took a few short stories from the cache and sent them out to various people, such as my mom, an old friend, my sister, about anyone who cared a little about me and had a working email address. My wife hadn’t read any of these stories yet. I packed my bags.
I was going down the road with my things, ignoring the cell phone, resolute in my decision, when I noticed I was nearly out of gas. I stopped at a gas station, filled up the tank, and went in to get a pack of smokes. I was in line when I happened to notice a familiar face. She was smiling at me, and I stepped out of line to greet her.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I’m acting,” she responded.
“Yes, I have a lead roll in Tempest.”
My mouth dropped open. Tempest was a big movie production they were filming parts of right there in town.
“You’ve really made it,” I said.
She smiled, luminously, like you only see when someone’s dream has come true. I knew her dream hadn’t come true in that very moment, standing near me in a gas station, but it sure felt like it had.
We talked a little more, embraced again, and went our separate ways. I kept driving, but I wasn’t thinking about the fight I’d just had with my wife anymore. I was thinking about the timing of things, and the strange nature of time.
I still think about it, two years removed from that day, still single and happy. Tam was the one who said it, ten years ago. We were in love. I was working on my masters in creative writing and she wanted to go off to acting school in
Then she left me.
BIO: Joshua Scribner is the author of the novels The Coma Lights and Nescata. His fiction won both second and fifth place in the 2008 Whispering Spirits Flash Fiction contest. Up to date information on his work can be found at joshuascribner.com. Joshua currently lives in
MOTIVATION: Years ago, a girlfriend left me to explore her art, and I didn't understand. I do now.
Photo by: Elke Oerter