The Ticket: A Short Story in Seven Parts (Part IV)

Illustration by Emma Crevier

Part Four: Positively Fifth Street 

The Ticket is a work of short fiction written by former Three Rivers resident and local author Charles Thomas. The story has been split into seven parts, all of which will be published on Watershed Voice in the coming days/weeks.

Brittany went back to the Triple Ripple Café to check on Trevor, but when she saw how slow it was and that he had everything under control, she decided to take the rest of the day off to adjust to being a millionaire. Who cared if Trevor snagged a few bucks from the register anyway?

With a smile as big as a grande latte on her face, Brittany drove her Kia back to the house she and Rob were renting on Fifth Street. Rob was home early from work. Again.

Brittany sat in her car, trying to decide if she wanted to even go in the house. Rob had changed so much in the fifteen years they’d been together; it was almost like he was a completely different person now. Back in high school, Rob had been the quarterback of the 2003 state championship Wildcat team. Since he’d been a boy, Rob dreamed of one day playing in the NFL, and winning that championship made him believe it was really possible.

Brittany had always been Rob’s biggest cheering section, both on the field and off. She wasn’t as ambitious as Rob, but she was happy to go along for the ride.

In Rob’s senior year, scouts from both Michigan and Michigan State came to Three Rivers to watch him play, but when neither school offered a scholarship, Rob fell into a depression. Brittany stayed at Rob’s side through it all though. When Western Michigan offered a scholarship, Brittany couldn’t believe it when Rob turned it down.

“I’m better than that,” he told Brittany one evening as they sat in Rob’s convertible in Scidmore Park. Brittany tried to talk Rob into taking Western’s offer just like everyone else did, but Rob refused. Rob was going to play in the BIG 10 or not at all.

After graduation, Brittany enrolled in business courses at Glen Oaks. She was surprised when she really enjoyed her classes and aced every one. Rob coached football at Three Rivers for a couple years, but then quit when his football fame earned him a good paying job at Winnebago down in Indiana. The work was hard, and the commute meant Rob was away from home more hours than he liked, but they were both living at least somewhere in the vicinity of happiness.

After they got married, Brittany wanted to start a family and decided to quit school. Rob made enough to support them both, so there was no reason to finish college, she told herself.

When a year passed with no pregnancy, Rob and Brittany made an appointment with a fertility specialist. Treatment was expensive, and Brittany convinced Rob to sell their new house in Tamarack to pay for treatment. After two miscarriages in two years, they decided that enough was enough.

That was five years ago. Rob now spent most of this time drinking with his high school buddies and recalling their glory days as the rental on Fifth Street fell to Brittany to maintain.

Brittany slammed the door of her Kia and walked into their little bungalow. Rob was sitting in the living room playing Call of Duty.

“You’re home early,” she said dropping her keys on the coffee table in front of him.

“Got my hours in for the week, no sense in doing more,” Rob said not looking up from the battle taking place on the screen. 

“What you making for dinner tonight?” he asked her.

For the last few years, Brittany had stayed quiet and tolerated Rob’s increasingly boorish behavior because he was the breadwinner. But it occurred to Brittany that things were different now. She was free. She could do anything she wanted to.

“You’re on your own tonight, Rob,” Brittany said turning around on a dime and picking her keys back up. “I’ve got some things to do now, and then I’m going to go stay with my sister for a couple of days.”

A bomb exploded on the screen just then, but it wasn’t clear from Rob’s reaction whether he had thrown the bomb or if he was the one getting hit by it.

“Cool,” he said engrossed in his own private war. “See in you a couple days, Babe.”

Brittany walked out the front door of the bungalow on Fifth Street without another word. She would never step foot in that house again, and the next time she would see Rob would be in divorce court. 

Charles D. Thomas is a writer and psychotherapist who made Three Rivers his home for over a decade. Feedback is welcome at Charles@charlesdthomas.com