Writing Prompt: Cause of Death – Indifference


Zoe scraped a weary hand across her eyes and then rested her chin against the knuckles of her right hand.  She ran a cynical eye across the landscape of their brightly lit bedroom and documented the evidence of what should have been a happy life, the king-size bed, the plasma screen television, the gaily colored tricycle in the far corner and much ill-used ragdoll.

It was only upon closer inspection that one saw the tattered edges, the spider webs in the ceiling corners, dustbunnies beneath the bed and light layer of dust on the oak chifferobe.


Andrew gunned the motor of his antique Ford F-150.  The roar of the engine was loud enough to be heard throughout the neighborhood.  She’d warned him countless times about the noise pollution, particularly this early in the morning.  But in that instance, as in all the rest, Zoe had never been able to tell Andrew anything.

Most people got it wrong when asked about the number one cause for the destruction of a marriage.  It wasn’t not money, infidelity, or abuse.  If anyone had ever cared to ask Zoe’s opinion, she’d have told them it was indifference.  You have to care about someone to want to make them do right and they have to care about you to want to change.

Change is hard.

Indifference is easy.

Most of the time, people do the best they know how; they get comfortable with a certain way of doing things, entrenched.  Even if their behavior caused the occasional difficulty, with the exception of bloodshed, they did what was familiar to them.

— unless someone very important to them desired a change, then they might be motivated to at least try.  But for most folk, if it works for you, it works for me became the prevailing attitude.

Gunning a motor at five o’clock in the morning in the middle of a residential community worked for Andrew.  Pretending not to hear his wife beg for his time and attention worked for Andrew.

Whoring worked for Andrew.

Zoe tried for the longest time to get Andrew to change his ways.  She’d even suggested therapy.  But all she got for her efforts was the usual sleight-of-hand jive talk –

“ – you’re imagining things.”

“ – ain’t nobody but you, baby.”

“ – stay out of my business, woman.”

No, the number one cause for the destruction of any marriage was indifference.  And for Zoe, time had finally worked its magic and mellowed her red-orange angst and frustration into a kind of beige indifference.

Zoe stood up from the vanity bench and approached the window that overlooked the driveway.  The truck’s motor gunned loudly and blended with the bass-driven tracks of a popular hip-hop anthem.  The vague outline of her husband’s head bobbed in time with the music.  The engine revved once more and then Andrew shifted into reverse.

A deafening “boom” rent the early morning calm. The glass in Zoe’s window imploded, the sonic boom strong enough to knock her off her feet.  She stared dumbfounded as the fireball that was once Andrew’s truck was catapulted into the air, past her window. Interminable seconds later, it landed roof down into the street.

Zoe shook shards of glass from her hair and ran a hand down her body to check for injuries.  She peeked over the broken window ledge and observed the smoking truck.  There was no movement.  Andrew’s arm hung limply across the driver’s side window.

One by one, her neighbors emerged from their homes and surveyed the damage that was once her husband.  Zoe turned from the window and made her way downstairs.  She pulled coffee and filters from the cabinet then set the machine on brew.  The rich hazelnut flavor filled the kitchen and for the first time in months, a genuine smile crossed her lips.

Andrew hated flavored coffee.

She picked up the phone, punched in the well-learned digits and listened as the operator spoke.  “This is the 9-1-1 operator.  What’s your emergency?”

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