Broken cars and broken hearts [short fiction]

Max flipped through the channels. There was nothing good on any of the 200+ channels. He decided to check the fridge to see if there was anything good to each. There wasn’t.

“You want anything while I’m up, Babe?” he asked.

“Nah, I’m good. Hey, it’s Saturday night. Do you want to go out?” replied Sophie.

Max sat back down into his usual chair. His butt impression was now permanent. He picked up the remote and replied without even making eye contact, “Nah, I’m good.”

Sophie pouted. She left the room and returned with a playbill which she dropped in front of Max. He continued to mindlessly flip through channels.

Sophie cleared her throat, “Achem.”

Max huffed in resignation and reluctantly looked at the playbill. It was yellow and crumpled from being stored in Sophie’s purse for so long. This was obviously something Sophie had wanted to see for a long time. He scoffed, dropped it back on the table, and picked up the remote to resume flipping channels.

“Please! Come on!” pleaded Sophie.

Max rolled his eyes.

Sophie waited for him to say more, but he had said his piece. She knew what she had to do, but didn’t want to do it. She grabbed a coat for her and one for him. She threw his coat onto his lap.

“Hey! I already told you I don’t want to go. If you want to go so bad, just go by yourself.”

“Put on your coat or I’m cancelling the cable. C’mon, I’m driving.”

Max’s face went from shock to pensive to frustration. He pressed his lips together and jutted out his chin as he marched to the car.

They drove through the dark of night on the unlit highway to the theater. Static and music alternated over the car’s speakers as Max cycled through the radio stations. They made it 10 miles before, out of nowhere, they drove over a pothole as deep and wide as a baseket ball. There was no time to avoid it. The car jarred them violently. The car shuddered as Sophie pulled over to the edge of the road.

“Damit!” fumed Max. “I knew we should have stayed home.” He got out and kicked the popped tire.

Sophie followed him outside. Immediately the cold air stung her face. She put her arm on Max’s arm. “Babe, it’s going to be fine.”

“Fine? You call this fine?” spat Max. “How are we supposed to get home?”

“A cab, Dear. But we’re not going home. We’ll get an Uber. We’re not far.”

Max was taken aback. “What about the car?”

“It’s not going anywhere. We can call AAA tomorrow.” said Sophie. She pulled out her phone and booked a trip to the theatre.

Max ran a hand through his hair and did everything he could to keep himself from pulling it out. “Do you have any idea how long it could take an Uber driver to get out here? We could be stranded out here in the cold for hours! This is why I hate going out. Stuff like this always happens!” Max shouted. He kicked rocks, cans, and any detritus on the side of the road he could.

“Stuff always happens. That’s just how it is. You just have to roll with the punches.”

“NO!” bellowed Max. The Uber driver arrived and parked behind their car.

“C’mon. Let’s go.” said Sophie in a whisper.

They each sat in the back seat, arms crossed and staring out of opposite windows.

When they arrived, Sophie walked briskly while Max lumbered behind her. The ticket attendant already had her hand on the “Closed” sign by the time Sophie got to the window. “Two tickets, please.” said Sophie breathlessly.

“I’m sorry, the only tickets we have are at the very back of the house. Is that ok?”

“Yes! No problem.” Sophie checked her watch and bit her lip as the ticket attendant processed the payment. The ticket attendant passed the tickets to Sophie who handed one to Max as he approached. Max looked at the ticket and scowled.

“ZZ 25?”

“I have ZZ 24. That means I have the best seat in the house, right next to you.”

Max rolled his eyes. “Listen, I’m going to pass. Tell me how it is.”

“You’re not coming in? Where are you going?”

“I don’t know, a bar I guess.”

“Please, Max. We’ve made it this far.”

“Maybe this is as far as we go…”

“What are you saying Max? What are you talking about?”

“I can’t keep doing this.”

“Doing what? Going with the flow? You’ve done nothing but complain all night!”

“Exactly. That’s just who I am. OK?”

Sophie didn’t respond. She just wiped the tears from her eyes as she watched him walk away.

What do you think? Right? Wrong? Pure poppycock?