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ENVY—A Short Story

This is a flash fiction piece that I wrote a long time ago. Years ago. I’ve never really known what to do with it. So, I’m sharing it here. I hope you enjoy! This is one of the very few times I’ve tried writing from a man’s perspective.


Pulling into the gas station, I couldn’t help grinning. The stares of envy never got old and always left me satisfied. Not only was this car a beast, but it was gorgeous and I looked good sitting in it.

I climbed out of the car and took a moment to adjust my shirt and sunglasses before closing the door to my convertible and pulling out my wallet, sliding a credit card in the reader before picking up the gas pump.

As the fuel pumped, I leaned against the hood, slipping my hands into my pockets just as an SUV pulled into the spot two lanes over. The guy driving looked over his shoulder to talk with someone in back. A moment later, a woman kneeled on the center console before diving down to retrieve something from the floor in front of the passenger seat. She dragged herself into a sitting position and opened the door, dropping her sandals to the ground before maneuvering to land her feet in them as she practically fell from the car. She didn’t appear embarrassed by her ungraceful exit, just settled her feet into her sandals and squirmed as she adjusted her clothes. She closed her door and I noticed the two braids that barely reached her shoulders and practically screamed road trip. I wondered for a moment why I was staring. She looked a little familiar, probably because she looked like the quintessential soccer mom, minus the game. 

Then she pushed her sunglasses onto the top of her head and her name fell out of my mouth. “Emmy.”

I hadn’t seen her in—what? Nine years, almost ten. We had still been teenagers. Her face was a little more filled out, but her smile was the same.

Emmy turned to open the back door and I stared as her familiar figure coaxed two little girls out of the car. She set one on the ground, then reached in for the other, surprising me when she settled the second child on her hip. She looked four or five, definitely old enough to walk. Then I noticed the lack of shoes on the little girl’s feet. Ah. I wouldn’t let my kid walk into a gas station barefoot either—if I had a kid. When she disappeared inside the gas station, I turned my eyes to the man. Emmy’s husband. He had started the gas pumping and then opened the back door on his side of the car. I moved a little, trying to see through the passenger window and saw a little boy climb into the driver’s seat and sit down, grabbing hold of the steering wheel. The husband closed the back door and opened the driver door to keep an eye and a hand on the toddler.

Three kids. Emmy had three kids, a husband and an SUV that looked ready to spill toys out of each door if given the chance. I didn’t like the husband, probably because I wished it was me. I thought of my own marriage, which had lasted two years and had driven me to my obsessive love of cars. I tried to imagine myself in the SUV with the wife and the kids. Then I realized it was probably good that it wasn’t me. I would have screwed it up, just like I had with my ex-wife. 

The gas pump connected to my car clicked, startling me from my observations. I tried to be casual about finishing my task but kept glancing back at the SUV, wondering when Emmy would come back with the girls.

Her husband pulled the pump from his car while watching the little boy with one eye. Then he stood outside the door making ridiculous faces at the window while the kid pounded on the glass.

My gaze locked onto Emmy as soon as she walked out of the gas station. She was still holding the shoeless child, and holding the other girl by the hand. Arriving at the car, her husband took the little girl from her arms and herded both girls into the car while Emmy opened the driver door and caught the little boy before he crawled into a different seat and out of reach. She kissed his cheek repeatedly as she carried him to his carseat and strapped him in.

A minute later they pulled away and I slipped back into my car. I watched her SUV turn toward the freeway and recalled one of the last things I had said to her, a decade ago. I can’t give you the life you want. I gripped the steering wheel in agitation. 

I had meant it at the time.


What do you think of flash fiction pieces? Do you like them? Are they too short for you? Let me know in the comments!