Fiction under 250 words.
“Happy birthday, honey!”
I tried to smile and accepted the silver, foil-wrapped gift from my husband. I was feeling vulnerable and on edge. I was 30. When exactly did that happen?
“Thanks.” I wasn’t sure what else to say. This was the first year he had actually remembered. Granted, he was four days after the fact, but at least he had finally gotten the month right this time.
I continued to smile at him. I realized that my smile was a cross between painful and hopeful. Perhaps now things would be different. A new job. A new city. There wouldn’t be any more distractions. We could work on starting a family. We deserved a fresh start.
“Open it already,” he said, his voice laced with impatience.
I swallowed my sigh and gingerly opened the gift. It was a beautiful tennis bracelet; the diamonds winked and sparkled at me, as if they were dying to tell me something.
“It’s gorgeous,” I croaked out. And it was. It as by far the nicest gift he had ever given me. In fact, it was the best gift he had given me. I bit my tongue. I wouldn’t start with the paranoia again. It was my birthday. I didn’t want to spoil the tentative truce between us. I managed a smile and carefully pulled it from the box.
I could feel the blood draining from my brain and rushing past my eardrums. I had to ask.
“Did she buy it?”
I braced for his answer.