The Illusion of Happiness (Microcosms Flash Fiction)

I have never heard of Rory’s Story Cubes before.  Apparently, you roll nine dice, each with an illustration.  The challenge was to use less than 300 words and tell a story with the nine cubes.  These are the way the nine cubes were rolled.

I wrote this piece while sitting on the beach inspired by a couple I saw when I looked up from my book.  To my delight, it won first runner-up.  The judge said, “Poignant and emotive writing at its best. The introspection of the narrator as she watches the elderly couple in the sort of loving relationship she could only dream about is heart-breaking.”

Lest anyone worry, this is just a story.  I love my husband and my life very much. 🙂

The Illusion of Happiness

It was the last day of vacation. The storms were clearing, and a rainbow spread across the deserted beach. Only a lone couple shuffled along. I watch as he stops and slowly, painfully, gets down on one knee. Like a school-aged child, she sticks out her right foot, balancing on her cane. Ever so gently he fumbles with the laces of her tennis shoe. My eyes well with tears. What tender love.

I had given the key to my heart away many years ago. If I had known what I know now, I would have kept it tucked safely away. Now I wear the masks of joy and happiness, the truth —the pain, hidden. I instinctively rubbed the newest bruise on my shoulder thinking of the excuses I would make.

Eager to keep walking, for the only option was to return to the cottage, I pull my flashlight out of my pocket, thankful for the way it illuminates my path. Little crabs scurry into the sand as my light shines on them. I’m still a little afraid of stepping on one! I fear it would hurt more than a bee sting!

The windows glow warmly across the beach, and my mind wanders back to the couple. Is one of those houses theirs? Will they return home to a bowl of ice cream and snuggles on the couch? Is there a happily ever after? Reaching down, I absently pick up a forgotten horseshoe and toss it onto the dunes. If I take a magnifying glass to anyone else’s life, would they have secrets like me? Do they wear masks like me?