Forgotten Eyes

Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Short Fiction
Mallory Johnson lived in the suburbs behind a white picket fence and a dark pine door. Her husband called her "Mal" when he trudged in late on the weekends, drunk and tired. David Smith was a working man. He and Mallory met in 10th grade History and were married soon after high school. A year later came the twins, a boy and a girl. Her life was balanced. Mallory was a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter. Her voice never raised, dinner was always ready when David got home, and she took her mom to lunch once a month.
Mallory Johnson had sad eyes. Not sad in the way that she'd lost something, but sad as if life had abandoned her, as if her youth held so little vitality that hopes and dreams saw her soul's gray coloring and shook their heads and rode on. The twins loved their mother, and David loved his wife. But Mallory felt little. She kissed her children and sang them to sleep, yet she did not lie awake in bed accompanied by worries of their development or future. She smiled in family portraits and framed them next to her desk, but never cried when David lied about his late night at the office. Her indifference was known only to herself, but she understood not the torture that it caused her, ironically unaware of her ignorance.
Mallory Johnson knew the formula. She followed it. Her life was hard, but so was her neighbor Sally's. Her husband cheated, but so did the PTA president's. Her twins forgot her birthday, but her sister forgot her mother's. Mallory just lived.
Then one November night, long after David fell out of love and her children lived beyond the confines of the white fence, when the time came that no one was dependent upon her, Mallory did something she had never done before. She stopped. Mallory drove onto the freeway, parked her car perpendicular to oncoming traffic, and watched as a tall pair of colorless headlights filled her empty, forgotten eyes.