Cole listened to Country Western music while he drove down the highway. Sharon played mindlessly with her phone. This carried on for a half-hour until Sharon attempted to start a conversation.
“I’m sorry about your father,” Sharon said.
“It’s been five years,” Cole said.
“Yeah,” Sharon replied. “But still…”
“People die,” Cole said.
“I wanted to come to the funeral but,” Cole said.
“I know,” Cole said.
There was a brief pause before Sharon finally blurted it out. “Do you hate me?”
Cole’s sigh was long and loud, like air escaping from a hot air balloon. “Let’s not do this.”
“Do what?” Sharon asked.
“Scratch the scab,” Cole said. “Neither of us will like the puss that oozes out, so just leave it alone.”
“We never really talked about it,” Sharon said.
“Not for lack of trying on my part,” Cole said.
“I know,” Sharon said. “That was my fault, but now I…”
“Look,” Cole said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in four decades it’s that everyone thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong. I think you were wrong, you think I’m wrong, let’s just skip the part where we argue about who was right and who was wrong and just think whatever the hell we want because that’s what we’ll end up doing anyway.”
“Wow,” Sharon said. “I guess you really do hate me.”
Up ahead, there was a Tasty Burger rest stop. Cole slowed down and pulled into it.
“What are you doing?” Sharon asked as Cole pulled into a parking spot.
Cole turned off the ignition. “You want to have this out? Fine. Let’s have this out.”
Sharon was quiet. She began to regret her prodding.
“You were my wife,” Cole said. “We both stood up before a minister and promised to love and cherish each other, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health and so on.”
Sharon looked away from Cole and out the passenger’s window. “I know.”
“I held up my end,” Cole said. “I took every last cent out of my paycheck to put you through law school because I loved you and I wanted you to be happy. Out of the two of us, you were the brains, so it seemed like a good investment in what was supposed to be the beginning of a happy life together.”
“I know,” Sharon said.
“And then you left me,” Cole said. “Out of the blue. No warning. No nothing. On the worst day of my life. I was in the hospital, dying. They took my leg. And your first thought wasn’t to come see me but to get the hell out of town because of…what? You were worried you’d have to take care of me?”
Sharon turned to face Cole. “That wasn’t…”
“I’ve got news for you,” Cole said. “I get along just fine without help from anyone.”
“I know,” Sharon said.
“I get along fine without you,” Cole said.
Sharon broke into tears. “I know.”
Cole felt saddened by the sight of his ex crying. “See? This is why I didn’t want to do this. It’s pointless.”
The pair sat there for awhile before Cole started up again. “Look, I don’t see any point in me shitting on you after all these years, so that’s why I think it’s stupid to rehash all of this. I don’t want to cause you any pain but if you’re expecting me to, what? Tell you that you did right by me? That what you did was great? That I was somehow the bad guy and you were the good one? That I forgive you? No. Not happening.”
Sharon wiped the tears from her eyes and sniffed. She opened the door. “You’re right. This is pointless and stupid.”
Cole watched as his ex stepped out of the car and slammed the door. He rolled his eyes as he rolled down his window.
“Sharon!” Cole shouted. “Come on!”
Sharon waved Cole off as she walked toward the Tasty Burger.
“Let me drive you the rest of the way,” Cole said.
Sharon turned and held up her phone. “I’ve got the Mobo Cab app. I’m fine. Take care of yourself, Cole.”
Cole bonked his head against the steering wheel and closed his eyes, realizing he may have just botched his one and only chance to get back together with his lady love.
“Fucking Mobo Cab app,” Cole muttered.