The Trials and Travails of Caleb Clark . . . Will He or Won’t He? (Short Fiction)

04 Mar


Photo by cohdra on Morgue File.

Tell us about a situation where you’d hoped against all hope, where the odds were completely stacked against you, yet you triumphed. Be sure to describe your situation in full detail. Tell us all about your triumph in all its glory.

Caleb sat motionless in his recliner. Although his body was perfectly still, his mind was racing at the speed of light. At times like these, he felt trapped in his own body, a prisoner beneath his own skin. He imagined it is what a chrysalis experiences shelled in its cocoon. He felt cocooned at the moment. He felt as though he did not properly fit in his own frame. He ached, like feet in a size too small pair of leather shoes.

Making matters worse, this should have been a happy night. It should have been one of the happiest nights of his entire life. It wasn’t.

Caleb’s life had taken a dramatic turn, a turn almost everyone believed for the better. Caleb had met and fallen head over heals in love with a woman named Tabitha, within the past year. The two of them hit it off and seemed to be a natural fit for one another. The romance escalated at a break neck pace, leading to his proposal a couple of months before. Caleb had felt happy and sure this was his destiny. But, Caleb was prone to bouts of doubt, depression and over analyzing even the best of situations.

Caleb, in the last week or so, had begun thinking maybe this was all wrong. Maybe he had been caught up in the euphoria of emotion and had been swept down love’s current. Maybe he was really floundering in a sea of what–ifs and what–might–have–beens. He loved Tabitha, this he knew. He knew it with his whole heart. He knew he loved her; and more, always would.

But, is that enough, Caleb questioned himself, Is that really enough?

When the thoughts of doubt and uncertainty first arose, Caleb chalked them up to cold feet. After all, he had lived as a bachelor for a number of years and he enjoyed his independence. He enjoyed the solidarity of singlehood and the freedom one had. Caleb had not felt he was missing out on much. He felt well-rounded enough. He had good friends. He had even dated a few times, though nothing serious. He wasn’t much for all the stickiness (as he called it) of relationships and dating. He would just soon be left alone with his books and his thoughts, then have to endure boring conversations and the drama of relationships.

It wasn’t that he wasn’t attracted to women, he was. But, he never really met a person that knocked him off his feet. There had been a few, probably no more than five, he had felt a connection with in some way. Some he felt intellectually stimulated with and he very much liked this; though, there tended not to be much physical appeal in these cases. Others he felt more of what would be called lust, a physical attraction, but he did not find in them much substance.

Is there something wrong with me, Caleb had often wondered?

To some, no doubt, if he had confessed all his true feelings, he would have come across as shallow or narcissistic. To others he may have seemed overly private and aloof. Still, others may have found him to be disjointed emotionally, insecure and unsure of who he was or what he wanted in another person.

For Caleb, he felt all the above were true to some degree, and many more things besides. Caleb, though he had many faults, was not delusional. He knew his weaknesses more than anyone else. He understood most of what he was feeling could be attributed to male insecurity and jealous competition. Yet, this did not remove the doubts, it did not change his disposition.

He and Tabitha had the talks of former boy and girlfriends. They had discussed people they had dated and what they did with them. Neither or them was a saint, but neither were they without morals either.

Tabitha, astute as she was, had noticed something of a change in her betrothed. She had noticed he had been more distant the past couple of weeks. She knew he had his bouts of depression from time to time, but this seemed different to her. He was not paying her the same attention he normally did. He wasn’t as affectionate. In fact, he had practically stopped hugging or kissing her altogether.

She had finally confronted him on the matter, just earlier that very day, and he claimed it was the result of fatigue and stress. She knew it was true he had been working more overtime at his job lately. She also knew getting married would be a big adjustment for both of them, but especially Caleb. But, she still felt there was something he wasn’t telling her, something he was hiding.

Caleb wanted to share his feelings, but that was not his strong suit. He felt, in some ways, embarrassed by his insecurities and doubts. He knew, from an objective point of view, it was all silly and nonsense. But, no matter how hard he tried to put it behind him, to move on and drop it, it just would not leave his mind. His imagination was having a field day at his expense.

It was true, Caleb knew very well, that he had been less affectionate toward Tabitha over the course of a few weeks. It seemed, as late, almost every time he held her or kissed her, he would think of Hal or Mike (her former boyfriends) holding and kissing her. It had gotten to the point he could not bear to do it. His imagination tormented him as to what Tabitha felt with them or what she liked about them.

Maybe she liked Hal’s kisses more than yours, Caleb’s imagination would offer, maybe she felt more secure in Mike’s arms than in yours. 

Wonder how she and Hal first kissed, wonder where they were, what were they talking about, what was the mood, his thoughts bombarded his consciousness with such questions?

What made matters worse in his mind, is he knew Hal through a friend. He had been around him a few times. And Caleb could not fathom how Tabitha had found Hal the least bit attractive. Caleb had once read that for a woman the difference between friends and more than friends was sexual attraction.

Are you kidding me, Caleb thought to himself, she found that idiot sexually attractive? What was she thinking? How in the world could she, even for a second, look at him and be sexually attracted to him? 

Caleb’s thoughts had driven him to the point of madness. For Caleb, not knowing, not knowing details was maddening. Tabitha, for her part, preferred to know as little as possible about Caleb’s past romances. She thought the less she knew, the better off she would be. But, Caleb’s mind worked completely opposite than that. Caleb needed specifics, he needed details. He had tried sweeping it all under the rug, but he could no longer pretend this wasn’t an issue. He could no longer go on without knowing. And, if Tabitha was unwilling to share with him, then he would feel betrayed. He would feel she was not being completely honest and open with him. He would feel she was keeping secrets from him.

Caleb had come to a resolution. If Tabitha refused to discuss these matters and get them on the table, he could not go through with their wedding. Though many would find it insane, this is how he felt.

It may not be rational, Caleb mused, it may not even be the right thing to do; but, I can’t help it. I can’t go on like this. I know these thoughts will only get worse and worse and worse if I don’t confront them now. 

Caleb, as he sat in his recliner, in the quiet and darkness, felt an emotional wreck. He had hit a chilling iceberg called jealousy and regret, and it had ripped his starboard side to shreds.

The only question left to Caleb was what would he do. Was this really his only recourse? Would he really confront Tabitha and ask her to tell him about all this? Or, would he just swallow it all and pretend nothing was bothering him? For Caleb, it seemed an impossible situation, it seemed all the odds were against him. No matter which way he chose, there were going to be repercussions and problems. He had tried hard to fight against it, to rise above it. Yet, here he still sat in his recliner without peace of mind.

He felt torn. He felt as though there was an emotional tug-of-war going on inside of him. He felt helpless and confused. What would he do?

Really, the only question left to answer was a simple one . . .

Will he or won’t he?


Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Daily Prompt, Short Fiction


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 responses to “The Trials and Travails of Caleb Clark . . . Will He or Won’t He? (Short Fiction)

  1. Beth Murray

    March 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm



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