A Greener Life

Posted: October 7, 2010 in #fridayflash, Short stories

He sat in his favourite armchair, sombre, motionless and a mere being of his former self. The chairs tatty edges and threadbare corners represented his life at this very moment.

A college graduate, Joe had met his life partner at university. They were inseparable. He was five foot seven, with dark brown eyes, wavy mouse coloured hair and an olive complexion. Sue was slightly shorter and fair coloured skin. They became best friends. They studied together, partied together and a year after they had both graduated, married in the summer. They eventually saved enough to buy their own place on the outskirts of town. A place where he could relax in his new luxurious reclining armchair, after a day in the office and where Sue could plant vegetables and trail her ivy around the archway leading up the garden’s path. He felt like a king in his throne. Life was great.

Joe was a clever man and worked his way up in a company, which soon promoted him several times over fifteen years. They had a daughter two years after they were married and Joe adored her. The feeling of being a father was like no other. He was successful at work, but now he was a father, he was ‘a someone’. Like a mother duck swimming proudly with her brood along the river, head held high, Joe felt a huge smile tattooed on his face, walking along pushing his daughter’s pram, with his wife by his side.

The family of three lived happily, until the family grew from three to four, when baby Joe Junior was born and they were ecstatic. His arrival felt like a final piece in the puzzle, slotting in comfortably and with ease. Joe had everything he had ever wanted.   Like a child wishing for the one and only bike he’s seen and had his heart set on all year, with the picture of it pinned to the wall by his bed.  The colours and exact markings and detail memorised with his eyes closed, this was Joe’s perfect gift.

When the faultless life had been so seamless, for nearly ten years, he began to feel there was nothing more he could achieve other than working even harder. The company valued him and his work and offered him a healthy promotion which included a secretary, his own office and a company car. With things going his way at work and home, he began to change. He felt the world owed him something else, something he may have missed along the way.

The secretary was younger than his wife and inevitably the two became a lot closer than a married man should. They had an affair and although he loved his wife and family more than a light bulb loves electricity, he felt the need to have something extra in his life. The thrill of secret rendezvous and meeting out of town in surreptitious locations, made him feel like a school boy and he was indeed a much happier person.

He was renowned for being the best in his line of work across town and was soon head hunted by a bigger and better paying company. He took the job without consulting either of the women in his life.

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side dear,” Sue said to him that weekend. “I know love,” he smiled, whilst texting his secretary a business “I’m sorry” meeting for the following weekend, “but I feel I’ve outgrown my company now, I need to move onto bigger and better things.” And he did.

Having left his old company and secretary behind, he began to feel more than lust for her. Meeting more regularly and wanting more from their relationship, he decided to come clean with Sue, leaving her and the children for his secretary and new job, (with a new sports car included).

Although he’d lost his best friend and home with his children, he kept focusing on what he did have and what more he wanted. Life certainly wasn’t awful. New job; more money; sports car and young beautiful girl on his arm. He could party all weekend and go on luxurious holidays at the company’s expense, without a care in the world.

Sue was so wrong when she said grass isn’t greener on the other side, he thought to himself. The new tattooed smile replaced his old one.

* * *

Five years later and a shell of a man sat in the reclining armchair, he’d owned since buying his first house with his best friend. It’s the only thing he’d wanted from the divorce settlement with Sue.

His sports car was last seen on the back of a tow truck, after being repossessed when the new higher paying company he’d moved to, had gone bust. The girlfriend hadn’t left long after.

His bachelor pad had become a hovel of decaying life and a harsh reality of loneliness and the mistake of always seeking more. His body and brain unable to comprehend his fatal mistakes; he was stunned by his greed.

He’d had everything and gave it up for a different type of everything he felt he’d wanted. He sat there for days, inert, stunned and lifeless.

The neighbour raised the alarm, when the decaying body began to smell.

  1. ganymeder says:

    Very insightful story. Nicely done.

  2. TEC4 says:

    That’s really sad, all the more so because it’s true. Really good story.

  3. Shadow says:

    serves him right.

  4. itallmeanssomething says:

    Ew. I found myself nodding my head knowing this was not going to end well for him and feeling really badly that he kept spiralling. My favorite line was, “The new tattooed smile replaced his old one.” Made me picture something less innocent, less happy, more selfish. Enjoyed your piece.

  5. Deanna Schrayer says:

    You tied the first and last lines together nicely. It is a sad story, an all-too-common one.

  6. adampb says:

    A good insight into the machinations of people’s ambitions and aspirations. The last image was a very fitting one for his selfishness.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  7. ThomG says:

    A sad and tragic tale of not being happy with the things we given – and are most cherished. A cautionary tale, one you’ve done with great insight.

  8. Adamjkeeper says:

    We all want a bit more than we have, but as you say the grass is always greener. Moralistic, but recognising common flaws in everyone.

  9. Mari Juniper says:

    The developments in your character’s life are very nicely done. His ending was sad, but I guess he should have seen it coming, eh? heh

    Since you asked for feedback, I’d suggest you review the first paragraph. With some small changes in punctuation I believe you could achieve a more fluid introduction to match the story’s pace. 😉

  10. Wow that ending was like a punch in the gut. Well done and great characterization of this man. I love character driven stories like this. Excellent work.

  11. Good story. The grass in this story proves, as it usually does in life, not to be greener on the other side. Loved the line, “more than a light bulb loves electricity.”

  12. Crystal says:

    Oh well done. What an excellent telling of how greed can undo anyone.

  13. A common and extremely well-told cautionary tale… Great flash, Brian!!

  14. Laurita says:

    I wonder how often this actually happens? Nice look into a life ruined by self-absorption.

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