By The Count

“There, done.” Steve looked at the hedge approvingly. Two hours of patient pruning had paid off. He looked around. The lawn was mowed perfection. “It is finished” he said with a wry smile. Appropriate really, since he too was making a sacrifice. Not to save mankind but to save his family from a future of poverty.

He walked back into the house and straight to the kitchen. As he poured himself some cold pineapple juice, the wall clock chimed. “Almost time” he thought. The house was empty and silent but all around was strewn evidence of an active household. Toys, magazines and the kind of organized chaos that indicates several children lived here with parents barely keeping ahead of them.

His family was out. James and Michael were at soccer practice and the wife was shopping before going to pick them up and bring them home. The peace at this time is something he cherished and would miss more than he would care to admit. He steeled himself and sat at his work desk and wrote his last letter to his wife.

Dear Irene,

I do not know how else to say this. I am sorry I could not face you and tell you face to face but I fear I would not be able to go through with this if I saw you one more time.

I am leaving you and the kids. I have found someone else.  I will not be coming back.

“There. Let her think me a cheat and a bastard. She will be half right.” What he was doing was cruel, he knew, but he saw no other way out of it.

He heard the car roll up the drive. Mr. Black walked into the house exuding that kind of confidence that made him so compelling. He found Steve placing the letter on the dinner table.

“Time to go, Steve.” Mr. Black said, not unkindly.