Nick and Crystal once talked about everything: their fantasies, their future plans and dreams. Longing and indebtedness and contentment and obligation. Now it is a lazy Sunday morning, both of them wearing boxer shorts and tees. She sits in the lotus position on the floor, near the loveseat, working on the newspaper’s crossword. And he sits at the dining room table, slouching too far forward, shuffling five hundred jigsaw puzzle pieces around like dominos. The jumbled mosaic of color blurs his vision. He wonders how any tabs could possibly fit into any corresponding slots?
Nick looks over at Crystal, at her hand, the quick foxtrot between the pencil and newsprint. He has an idea, picks up his phone and sends her an email. Only a few lines. But it should do the trick. Before Crystal was his wife, they wrote long electronic letters to each other, the thread of sends and replies stacking into the dozens.
“You should check your email,” Nick says. Crystal places the section of newspaper aside. He can’t stop smiling. He says, “You’ve received a special message.”
Crystal rises, smirking, and disappears down the hallway toward their home office.
Soon, Nick peers around the doorjamb. The computer screen over Crystal’s shoulder is filled with a long paragraph, its volume growing with each new sentence. She stops typing, scrolls up and down, and clicks the send button.
Nick hurries to the dining room and checks his email on his phone. Nothing new.
“Did you read my email?” Nick stands at the open doorway, scratching his elbow.
“Mm-hmmm.” Crystal doesn’t bother turning around. An online crossword presently fills the screen.
Nick backs away into the dim-lit hall, rubbing his elbow. Then he realizes Crystal hasn’t sent her email reply yet. What he saw was her saving it as a draft. Sure, she wants to make it perfect before sending it along. Crystal is so adept with words. He will check his phone later.
Nick stares at the puzzle pieces spread out across the tabletop. He knows the edge pieces are easiest. Less tabs and slots to think about.
Dan Crawley is the author of the novella-in-flash, Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction). His writing appears or is forthcoming in a number of journals, including Wigleaf, New Flash Fiction Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Atticus Review. Along with teaching creative writing workshops and literature courses, he is a fiction reader for Little Patuxent Review. Find him at https://twitter.com/danbillyc.