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by Bryan Jones

After the collapse of his marriage, Brunson found himself in a low-lit restaurant with pretentious white tablecloths having his first date after fifteen years with a woman about whom he knew hardly anything. Friends had set them up. She ordered a vegetarian dish. Brunson got the baked flounder.

As they were finishing dinner, Brunson tried to say something funny. Funny was good. Women liked funny. Funny was a tactical diversion from the many shortcomings of middle age.

“I heard this story on the radio,” Brunson said. “Seems this ninety-year-old man remarried for the fifth time. The old man said he was overjoyed because now he had found his true love and this marriage was built to last.”

She laughed at that. Success, Brunson thought. Maybe it wasn’t hopeless after all.

Then she stopped smiling and her expression became serious.

“Why would you put yourself through that much heartache five times?” she asked.

She put her fork down at the top of her plate and looked at her wristwatch. She had left most of her butternut squash untouched.

Brunson shrugged and looked down at his plate. He pressed the tines of his fork against the brittle spine of what was left of his main course until the translucent bone snapped in two.

Short fiction by Bryan Jones has appeared recently in MiCrow and Eclectic Flash. He lives and works in Texas.