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Surprise

"Well, surprise, surprise… Get out of my way you self-centered, contemptible bums!"

Tommy was honking and yelling at a young couple in a Subaru, before realizing they in fact had the right-of-way.

Tommy couldn’t do anything right today. His concentration was shot, and he had been struggling to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Why were his fingers shaking?

Two times two miracles saved him from two fatal accidents – he almost collided with a deer, and then trailer six minutes later. Maybe that would have been better than all this. On the right seat, where his wife rightfully sat for all those years, Tommy eyed the bouncing divorce papers, freshly signed by his attorney. He hadn’t told his wife. It was his inconvenient, unpleasant surprise, just like their marriage.

She was one of the few, the proud, a United States marine, who qualified to specialize in internal medicine. They had only been married a year when she joined, and Tommy really did love the way Debra looked in that uniform. Not the formal one. The combat one. Every so often, she would enter the bedroom, his killer, brunette hair breezing above two stone shoulders, covered in brown-green spotted denim-like material just waiting to be unwrapped like a camouflage present. It was flame resistant, but not in the bedroom.

But she was never the same when she came back from her two-year tour in Afghanistan. Sometimes she yelled in her sleep, while other times she talked to imaginary people. Insomnia soon became common to her, which also meant him. The sleep walking had only just begun a few nights ago. And last night, Tommy swore he could smell something burning. Had she had turned on the oven? Was she trying to light the house on fire? Tommy eventually stormed down the stairs to the kitchen, but he must have just missed her.

Tommy parked the car in the driveway, and waited for a moment. Could he really go through with this? She was a victim of war; it was his turn to be doctor. He knew that, and that feeling of love, or at least guilt, kept him going. But then again, life was so short, and five years was a long time to pretend to be a doctor, especially a sleepless one.

After spending a small eternity in the car, he grudgingly leaned the door open, and walked to the front door.

Why was it unlocked?

The whole house was dark and quiet. A little suspicious, Tommy stealthily pushed the door open like a slight gust of wind, as his fingers tried to feel where the switch was.

“Surprise!”

Tommy jumped back, and nearly threw everything in the air. Despite being nearly blinded by light, he could distinguish from the blurry figures a few familiar faces, smiling widely, wearing red and blue birthday hats. His wife and two of their close friends soon appeared holding a birthday cake with his name written on it.

“Yes, this is a surprise,” Tommy said, dying inside.

This story was written by Teddy Kimathi. Teddy is a Kenyan who writes poetry, fiction stories and letters for local newspapers. He's lucky to have some of his poems and fiction stories published in various journals and magazines. His first poetry book, "The Milky Way In Words," is available on Amazon.
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