She left on a Sunday.
Daniel Carmichael sat in his living room alone with the lights out. Anyone casually entering the room would think that Daniel was actually paying attention to the eleven o’clock news that lit up a good portion of the room, but he wasn’t engaged at all. He stared at a small spot on the wall above the television, not blinking, not flinching, barely even breathing. He felt a large gap where his beating heart used to be before his wife, or ex-wife at this point, had cut it out with a dull scalpel.
She hadn’t left for any good reason. She just got tired. Well, Daniel Carmichael was tired, too, and it was time somebody knew it.
He tore out of the house in a daze of rage. He got into his Impala blasted off into town. He broke hard at red lights and stop signs and ignored the speed limits. Before he knew it, he was doing 80 in a 35 mile per hour zone. He reached a long stretch of road with no stop signs or lights and picked up speed, more and more until he neared the edge of the speedometer. He had dropped off from the world. All that mattered now was more speed. Faster, faster, faster.
The Binghamton diner sat on a T-intersection at the dead end of Route 41. It was nearing midnight, and Max Holloway was finishing his last cup of coffee before his night shift at the twenty-four hour CVS Pharmacy. He was a young man who had opted to spend a year in the workforce, trying to figure out what to do with himself before he went off to college. As he turned to the last page of the Binghamton Gazette, Daniel Carmichael’s Impala tore through the front entrance of the diner, about 20 feet away from Max’s booth. He shielded his eyes from the debris with his forearms, which caused a fair amount of glass to get stuck in his skin. He escaped out of the emergency exit towards the back of the diner, but he never quite got to work that night.
Holly Roberts, RN, was assigned the glamorous job of picking the shards of glass out of Max Holloway’s arm later that evening. She was the youngest nurse on the hospital’s staff at 23, but one of the most talented. Her soft but nimble fingers removed all fifty pieces of glass out of Max’s arm in under an hour, and with very little harm to the patient. Max was impressed. Could a girl be this efficient and effortlessly gorgeous all at once? They chatted as she worked, about everything from politics to the Muppets (they were both big fans). Max was discharged soon after Holly had finished her maneuver, but didn’t leave without Holly’s number and the promise of coffee later that week.
A few months passed. Daniel survived the accident, but not entirely in one piece. He spent a few days in the hospital and was forced to attend anger management as part of his sentence for destroying the diner. Of course, this incident further proved to Marcia Roberts that she could not go back to her husband, and she swiftly filed for divorce. Daniel was alone. Very much alone.
Marcia Roberts didn’t quite approve of Max Holloway at first. She didn’t believe in “gap years” or “figuring out what you want”. In her mind, you either know what you want to do with the rest of your life, or you become a leech of society, and Max was definitely close to becoming a bottom-feeder. That philosophy had helped her climb the corporate ladder fast. Of course, the fact that she could pass for 30 at age 56 didn’t hurt either.
The third time he came with Holly to visit, though, something in Marcia shifted. She saw the way that Max cared about Holly, and how Holly lit up whenever he said something particularly witty. It was love, and it wasn’t something she had seen in a while. At least not since she left he husband.
Then again, who the hell were they to be in love?
Why were they allowed to be happy when she had suffered for thirty years in a loveless, sexless marriage? They were just going to end up like she did, disgruntled and alone, or like Holly’s father, smashing his car into diner windows. They were young. They had no idea what they were getting into. It was time to end it.
Marcia called Max later that night, around 3 AM. Luckily for her, he wasn’t working that night. She put on her sexiest voice and told him that she needed him now. He seemed hesitant at first, but his hormones got the best of him. He was only 19, after all. He invited her over.
She had been attracted to Max all along, and he wasn’t one to pass up sex. They both knew it was wrong, but there was only so much Marcia could do to end the happiness of her only daughter. She was saving her. She’d be better off in the long run. Plus, she’d never find out it was her own mother who betrayed her.
She found out.
She found out everything.
She left on a Sunday.