Last week, chapter one was released, so here's chapter two of my short story, "Apologies Not Given"

Seth (2018)

Lyrics to "Sugar Man" played a constant, vicious loop while I awoke this morning. That alone would be enough to drive anyone mad after a while, but that feeling of insanity comes faster with the realization that it's just another memory tied to you.

Sighing, I kissed my sleeping wife, Suzanne, on the cheek before slipping out to grab a cup of coffee, a taste I have yet to acquire while heading to my decent job while "Sugar Man" plays through the speakers of my two-door Camry. Only Vicki could play this song on repeat without getting sick of it. Why do some of my days consist only of thoughts of you?

Suzanne has lived in this tiny, Midwest town her whole life, and I think that may play one of the most important roles of my love for her – she's never left. Suzanne has no intentions of leaving: no deep-rooted urge to pack up and explore unfamiliar territory; she thinks everything she needs in life can be found somewhere within this town, this justified when she met me, she proclaimed at our wedding at the only church in town.

A big, open, white church nestled on a hill I looked up to quite literally and figuratively. I knew I wanted to get married in this church from the day I first saw it with Vicki five years ago. Suzanne also loved this church, as she has been sitting in these pews every Sunday since she could last remember. I don't think Vicki ever stepped a foot inside the church – "I have no place being somewhere I know I don't belong" became a song I wish I never heard.

With Rodriguez on repeat, and laughing to myself thinking about Vicki going to church, I suddenly craved a bitter warmth I once found in paper cups filled by a young, still hopeful, less experienced barista in a usually empty coffee shop on the corner of Main and 1st Street. The atmosphere of the coffee shop, on this Tuesday morning, mirrored the eerie, unusual feeling I had lying in the pit of my stomach. Standing in this wrapped-around line, I quickly caught a glimpse of the shorter, yet too familiar red hair I last saw standing still on my sidewalk five years ago.

I could walk out – be the one to leave first this time. I could pretend this was just a joke, pretend I never loved her, pretend I learned to live without her, but that's only all partially true. I always dreamed maybe one day we would laugh about the time she left, in this very coffee shop, but now that we're here, I don't feel much like laughing. I watched her order her coffee like she was a movie I didn't want to miss. Our lips moved in harmony, whispering, "Large dark roast – 1 sugar, no cream, 3 shots of espresso, please."