I'm trying something different this time. My chapters are pretty long, and given the short attention span of most readers (including me), I'm thinking a 5000-word blog might be a bit much. Soooo, this is just a part of Chapter 3. Call it 3A.
CHAPTER 3 - APRIL, 2008 CE – SARAH IS MISSING
Paul woke at his usual time, six a.m., sincerely wishing it was still the middle of the night. Despite a full night’s sleep, he felt groggy and grouchy. However, the old-fashioned alarm clock on the dresser was clanging loudly and deliberately out of reach so he couldn’t push the snooze button. He threw the blankets back with a jerk and put his feet on the floor. There, that’s a start, he thought, scratching his head. Standing up and yawning hugely, he stretched to his full six feet, feeling every muscle in his body, then turned off the alarm. He turned and noticed that Sarah wasn’t in the bed. She must already be up. I don’t hear any noise in the house, though. Maybe she went in early again. Just as well, I don’t feel like talking. We haven’t communicated much in several years, anyway, except when necessary.
Sometimes I wonder why we even stay together. That new professor of zoology, Maureen, acts more interested in me than Sarah has in a long time. Sarah seldom even speaks to me if she doesn’t have to. If it hadn’t been for Tamara, we probably would have separated a year ago. If we did separate, I could probably move in with Mom for awhile, till I can find somewhere else to live. Hell, Sarah probably wouldn’t even notice I was gone!
He brewed a cup of coffee for himself, and then headed for the shower. She didn’t even fix the coffee before she left. He felt sorrier for himself by the minute. She probably stopped at Starbucks. She keeps telling me not to get so impatient with her, that she is still grieving. Well, so am I, but at least I make enough coffee for her, too, when I get up in the morning.
I’ll just work a little later this afternoon. Maybe even work past dinnertime, grab a burger at the Burger Shack. That would suit me just fine. Let her wonder where I am and be little inconvenienced, for a switch. Maybe I’ll even have a drink afterwards with Maureen.
Nah, that’s going a bit overboard. I don’t want to get into that scene, even if Sarah and I have been pretty distant. Not unless we separate, anyway. Maybe I’ll talk about that with Dr. Howard, he mused, thinking about his grief therapist. Why hang onto a marriage that’s sinking into the pits? Obviously, this marriage doesn’t mean anything to her either, because she’s not making any effort to improve things. Not that I have, either, he conceded guiltily.
Paul left for work, bemoaning the fact to himself that the commute to work was way too long from Wickenburg, too. Even taking the freeways, it took him two hours to get to work, two hours back—and that was if traffic wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t so far for Sarah, only one hour. If he moved in with his Mom in Chandler, the commute would only be about a half hour.
Paul arrived at the Arizona State University campus at 8:55. Maureen was waiting for him outside his office, he noticed as he turned the corner from the elevator.
“Good morning, Paul,” she greeted him in that throaty voice she used with him. “I thought maybe you’d like to know the latest news. Have you heard that Trish Pettigrew is retiring?”
“Good morning, Maureen. That's an attractive suit you’re wearing—electric blue is really your color. And yes, I did hear about Trish.”
“Thank you, you look pretty hot yourself.” Maureen looked up at him through speculative eyelashes. “Did you also know several of us are going to take Trish out for drinks after work today at TGI Friday’s?”
“No, I hadn’t heard that,” Paul said, unlocking his door and walking into the office, with Maureen following close behind.
“Your tie is a bit crooked. Shall I fix it for you?” she asked as she stepped closer and reached for the offending object. She was standing much too close for Paul’s comfort, and he could smell the sensuous perfume on her long wavy red hair. Paul felt his cheeks burning and the sweat starting in his armpits.
After she had straightened his supposedly crooked tie, Paul backed up a step. “Uh, thanks,” he said. “I have to get to a class now, so I have to leave.”
“So, would you like to go over to help Trish celebrate? I could give you a ride over there and bring you back here to your car later. Maybe much later,” she added.
Paul hesitated, more tempted than he wanted to admit, but refused. “I don’t think I should, as much as I’d like to.”
“Why not? Are you afraid of little ol’ me? I’ve yet to bite anyone. Nibble, maybe.”
“Maureen, I’m scared to death of little ol’ you, and that’s precisely why I can’t go with you,” Paul answered with a grin. “Now I have to go, so out the door with you.”
“Well, then take your own car, but come to the party.”
“Again, no thanks. See you later, Maureen,” Paul said, heading down the hall before she could talk him into changing his mind.
The rest of his day passed rather quickly. He was feeling rather virtuous about declining Maureen’s invitation to have a drink with her after the day was over. Hmm, great minds running in the same channels? Having a drink with her was exactly what I thought about just this morning! Well, if Sarah and I split.... He grinned to himself and speculated on what might happen.