Here I post short pieces of mine that I don’t plan to publish elsewhere. They’re just for fun. I’ll post new ones, from time to time. This one is, indeed, a kind of unauthorized sequel to “Little Shop of Horrors” (the musical movie version). I suppose it counts as fanfic.
Mrs. Audrey Krelbourne loved her kids. She loved her husband. She loved her house and her cute little yard and all of her wonderful neighbors. She loved her life. Except…
Why should there be an “except”? Her husband, Seymour, was kind, respectful, even. He was her friend, exactly as he’d said he was. She’d never known what having a man for a friend—or, really, any friend—would be like, but, suddenly, here he was. Dealing with that plant had matured him in some undefinable way, and the insurance money from when the shop blew up had been enough for a down payment on the house. A bad situation had become a perfect one. She was the center of her husband’s world, the center of her kids’ world.
So why did it feel as though she herself, Audrey, had no center?
She tried to be cheerful, but she just felt bad. She had bad dreams. She had assumed, at first, the nightmares were just the lingering effects of her past–the beatings and gropings of past boyfriends; her frighteningly mixed-up feelings when Orin (her mind still added “DDS,” obediently, whenever she thought the name), her last and worst pre-Seymour man, died; the horrid experience of being, however briefly, inside that carnivorous extra-terrestrial plant…but shouldn’t she have gotten over all that already? Those bad experiences were years ago, now.
And sometimes, when she saw Seymour around the house, whistling or singing to himself as he often did, she would envy him his new confidence. A towering rage would build up inside her, at him, at everyone, at no one. Sometimes he would feel her gaze on him, look over at her, and ask her what was wrong.
“Oh, nothing!” she would say, with her best smile.
Seymour had slayed his monster, Audrey realized. He slain his monster and, when she was being honest with herself, she knew he’d slain her monster, too. He had killed Orin. Her sweet husband had killed a man—possibly two, considering how uncharacteristically Mr. Mushnik had vanished. She felt less shame and horror about that than she thought she should. Mostly she just wished she’d done it herself. She thought—maybe—she could do it now, if she had a chance. Maybe she could at least stand up for herself, a little. Being a mother made her stronger, she knew that. Sometimes she practiced talking to Orin in the mirror, saying “no, I don’t want to. No, leave me alone. I will call the police. I will tell my uncle. I will….” But there were no monsters to slay. Not anymore.
There was only Seymour, kind, wonderful Seymour, who loved her.
“I want a separation,” Audrey told Seymour at last.
“You’re leaving me?” he asked, incredulous. “Is this going to become a divorce?”
“I don’t know. I just…I have to do this.” She could see him start to argue, but something stopped him. He sat down on the couch, the plastic covering squeaking. He rested his head in his hands.
“Fine,” he said at last. “I’m not going to tell you what to do. I never have, Audrey, and I never will. I love you.”
“Why do you have to be so Goddamned nice?” she cried, her voice rising at last.
She’d never said NO to a man. Not once.
… … …
Audrey moved out. She had a little money, enough to stay at a motel for a while, and she got a job at the florist’s at the shopping center. After a few weeks she found a room she could rent and she learned to ride a bicycle so she didn’t have to take a cab everywhere. Seymour kept the house. She felt, somehow, that leaving him had to include leaving his money. Not that there was a lot of money, Seymour wasn’t the superstar that plant had somehow made him become, but he had a natural screen presence, he did know an awful lot about plants, and “Seymour’s Gardening Tips” was doing quite well. They were modestly comfortable. But Audrey didn’t want to be comfortable.
She left the kids with their father, since it was less disruptive for them. She and Seymour told them Mommy was going on an adventure and would be away for a while. She called them every night and saw them on weekends.
If she’d really believed the separation would be permanent, she’d have taken the kids with her.
… … …
Audrey got a promotion to lead florist and started to save a little money. She biked to work every day and even took the kids cycling and swimming on the weekends. Her legs were becoming strong. For the first time in her adult life she was living alone without a man to lean on–if part of the reason she didn’t have a boyfriend was that she was still married, the other part was that she didn’t want one. She finally got her GED and was thinking of taking classes at the community college, maybe getting into cosmetology or fashion design.
And then something shifted.
She called up her husband and asked him out on a date. She’d never asked a man out on a date before. She wasn’t sure, really, that a woman could ask a man out, but she asked him anyway, and he met her for coffee. They talked.
“Are you going to divorce me?” he asked.
“No,” she told him, at last. “I love you.”
… … …
Audrey and Seymour Krelbourne got back together and things were different between them. They argued, sometimes, which Audrey had never had the courage to do before. Neither had Seymour, honestly, not with anybody he actually liked, but something about Audrey had changed subtly. She seemed more solid, somehow, less likely to break or to leave him if he wasn’t the nicest guy in the world. She had left him, actually, and she’d come back, and somehow he believed she would not leave again.
Audrey did, indeed, earn an Associate’s Degree in Design. Working out of her home, she built a small business designing and selling children’s clothing and she did very well for herself. With her income, Seymour was able to cut back on his work enough to have time to go to school—unlike Audrey, he’d never been at all and had to study for years to get his GED. Then he took a couple of classes in accounting and marketing and joined Audrey in the family business.
By the time the kids were old enough for college, Audrey and Seymour could send them there—just in time, as it kept the boy out of the war. Instead of going to Vietnam, the he studied history, became a socialist and, briefly, a pothead, before eventually becoming a college professor and a noted expert in the labor movement. The girl did go to Vietnam as a photojournalist and a picture she took made the cover of Life magazine.
Audrey no longer thought her life was perfect. But she did think it was pretty damned good.
There was no “except.”