The beginning of regret

‘Let’s stop here so it doesn’t look so creepy,’ she said with too much desperation in her voice.

‘Where we stop or begin is not going to change how creepy this is. Anyway, you said you were down with this, don’t back out now.’

‘I am. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like fun any more.’

She saw the muscles in his jaw tighten. She recognised his habit of restraint, clenching his mouth shut to stop his cruelty.

‘It’s too late to worry about fun now, don’t you think?’ He shoved a black ball of wool into her hand. ‘Put this on.’

She grabbed a handful of her hair and began twirling it into a blonde, contained mass before bundling it into the woolen hat.

She looked at him. His face masked except for two green eyes that glowed luminescent in the fresh autumnal evening. Those two eyes that once bore in them her desired future: three kids, two of them girls; an old, content labrador that shed too much hair; and the mongrel cat that walked with a limp after a hit and run. She had never felt safe in his eyes, always too clingy, too much of a nuisance, too unsure. Her imagined future was the commitment she craved.

‘Roll it down.’

‘I don’t know about this.’

‘Roll it down.’

She succumbed. Slowly, she gripped the thick fold at her forehead and rolled it down until all that could be seen of her face were two frightened, moist eyes.