The Best One Yet


Kelley Hunter

Five years.
As Clark trudged through the snow, his wife Mary kept insisting the continuation of their marriage had boiled down to five years and a bunch of damn poinsettias.
It pissed him off.
His whole everything was being concentrated to just these two things: half a decade and some stupid, poisonous plants. It wasn’t right how his entire future with this woman he loved should hinge on these.
Clark groaned and turned to her. “What?” Because of course he had hoped the conversation was over. He should have known better.
“Just promise me you won’t do it this year,” she said. “I won’t bring it up again, if you’ll just promise.”
A lava hot anger swept through him. It was almost as if she’d been reading his mind, and that more than pissed him off. Even if they were married, for now, she had no right to his thoughts.
“Just don’t, okay? I don’t want to get into a long discussion. I just want you to promise me.”
She waded through the snow next to him, powdery flakes settling then, just as quickly, melting in her hair. She turned to him and sighed. “It’s so embarrassing.”
Clark looked away.
“I take that back. Mortifying. It’s completely mortifying.”
He kept plodding down the street. Their two boys raced ahead, pummeling one another with snowballs. Clark frowned at them, wishing he, too, could pound someone.
“Look. I think I- we-this whole neighborhood has tolerated it enough. I know you can’t help yourself. I know you don’t know why. But you need to stop. This isn’t some game, it’s our lives.”
Clark stayed quiet, feeling his boots sinking into the slush.
“I don’t ask a lot, but these are our neighbors. They’re good people, it’s not right to steal from them. Especially at the holidays.”
Clark ducked, as a snowball missed his head by inches.
She reached out and grabbed his arm. “Promise me, Clark. Promise me you won’t sneak out tonight and steal all the neighbors’ poinsettias.”
Clark stopped in the street and sighed. He turned to her and nodded. “Okay.”
“No, say it.”
“Fine. I promise I won’t steal any of the neighbors’ poinsettias.”
Mary smiled and let go of his arm.

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