45 comments

Sad American Contemporary

July 28th 2021. Tomorrow is the day.

I can’t believe it. I knew the day would come eventually but it’s actually here.  

A new chapter, a new last name, the unknown, an end and a beginning.  

I can’t imagine my life without him. 

I’m nervous and a little scared.  

I wonder what he’s thinking now. 

Does he have any regrets or cold feet?  

Will he sleep a wink tonight? I know I won’t. 

I want to call him but I know I shouldn’t. 

True love is rare, more so than I could ever have imagined.  

Will I cry? Probably, I usually do. 

Ok, enough stalling. Lights off, time for bed.  

Tomorrow is almost here. 



July 29th 2020. Alone.

He moved out today.  

We didn’t fight, we even laughed a little. 

I helped him pack, I made him lunch.  

I carried the small boxes to the moving van he rented.  

We have to wait a year for it to be final, it’s the law.

I can’t help feeling so alone. I’ve felt alone for as long as I can remember but not like this.  

I miss him already and yet I’m glad he’s gone.  

I don’t understand all my emotions.  

I have no one to talk to anymore.  

I’m sad.



September 1st 2019. No Joy.

Joy left for college today.  

I cried, so did he. 

He held me close for the first time in years. 

It was wonderful and terrible at the same time.  

It felt as if I was saying goodbye to him as well.  

I’m not in love. He says he is, he’s not.  

He’s just trying to do what he’s always done, be my hero.  

I admire him for trying but it’s too late.  

Today we are a team one last time.  

The end is near.

We rode home in silence.



November 5th 2017. The word.

I used the word tonight. The D word.  

I always wondered how does that conversation start?

How do two people who pledge their lives to each other change their minds?  

It felt true.

I hurt him. I could see it immediately.

I said I was sorry.  

We had make up sex, the electric kind, for the first time in years.  

Is this a turning point or the beginning of the end?  

Does he still love me? Do I still love him? Does it even matter?  

He doesn’t drink anymore but now I do.  

Who am I?



June 7th 2015. Hope.


He surprised me today.

15 years of marriage.

A pearl necklace.

A horse drawn carriage.

A babysitter I didn't have to schedule.

A candlelight dinner for two.

He reminded me why he's my hero.

I felt beautiful and hopeful. I've missed that.



April 21st 2012. What’s wrong with me?

He works late all the time.

When he’s home I don’t know what to say.  

We don’t watch tv together anymore. 

He watches sports in the living room. I watch sitcoms and movies in the bedroom. 

I miss kissing. He used to say our “tongues danced,” now our lips barely touch. 

The other day I flirted with Scott, an old boyfriend on Facebook while he was in bed right beside me.

Maybe he‘s interested in someone else, too. 

I went to his work last night unannounced.  

He was there, all alone, working, just like he said.  

Is this a phase?  

When does marriage get good again?  

I think I’ll reach out to Scott.  

What‘s wrong with me?



May 24th 2010. Lost.

We watched the series finale of Lost last night. What a disappointment.  

We watch a lot of tv now, also a disappointment.  

We used to talk all the time, we still talk but it’s about Joy and his job and the bills.  

I still love the sound of his voice. I just don’t love the reasons I hear it.

I miss the fights. Is that weird.

I miss the make up sex.

Now it’s just on birthdays and anniversaries.  

It’s not his fault at least not all his fault. I’m busy and I’m tired.  

I’m not so sure I want to have sex.

I think I just want to want to have sex.  

We watched the series finale of Lost last night.  

Sometimes I feel lost.



January 1st 2006. The first fight.

He was drinking last night, we all were.  

I could tell he was mad. 

I asked him, he said it was nothing.  

We didn’t talk the whole way home. 

We always talk.  

I asked again and he exploded.  

I thought we had fights before, we haven’t. This was what a fight really feels like.  

I spent too much on Christmas and Joy’s birthday.  

He said yes to everything. He didn’t mean it.  

I was supposed to know.  

I believed him when he said we had enough money.

I want to work, he thinks I should stay home. 

Is this my fault? 

Joy heard, she cried.

My heart is broken for her.

I love him so much I can’t stand the separation.  

I’m so confused I don’t know what to do. 

I can’t call my mom, she’ll hate him if I do.

I’ll call his mom, she’ll know what to do.



December 7th 2002. Joy to the world!


We had the most beautiful birthday party today.

He took care of everything. He's my hero.

Joy stuck her foot in the cake.

He ate that piece, it's what dads do.

I miss my dad, he would have loved my Joy so.

I'm still tired but it's a good tired.

Days go by slowly but this year flew by fast.

I miss working. Maybe this year I'll go back.



December 7th 2001. A new bird in the nest.

It’s a girl!  

We don't have a name yet, we were expecting a boy. 

Maybe Grace or Joy or Hope.  

He says I’ve never been more beautiful, I don’t feel that way.  

He kissed me and then he kissed her too, on the forehead.  

I’m not the only girl in his life anymore. Is that a silly thought? Am I jealous? 

I just breastfed for the first time.  

That was awkward and a little painful.  

She’s sleeping now on my chest.

This is what true joy feels like.  

Yes, we’ll name her Joy. 

I think I’ll sleep while I can. I’m so tired already.



June 6th 2001. One Year.

We made it through the first year.  

It was wonderful and magical and awful. Can I say that?  

Waking up next to him every day is a dream come true.  

The feel of his skin against mine makes my heart race and my mind wander. 

I didn’t expect the fights but I should have and the make up sex is electric. 

He is my best friend, I could talk to him for hours about everything and nothing just to hear the sound of his voice. 

I love him with all my heart. I can’t wait for the rest of my life. 

Oh, and I think I may be pregnant, fingers crossed.



June 6th 2000. Tomorrow is the day.

I can’t believe it. I knew the day would come eventually but it’s actually here.  

A new chapter, a new last name, the unknown, an end and a beginning.  

I can’t imagine my life without him. 

 I’m nervous and a little scared.  

I wonder what he’s thinking now. 

Does he have any regrets or cold feet?  

Will he sleep a wink tonight? I know I won’t. 

I want to call him but I know I shouldn’t. 

True love is rare, more so than I could ever have imagined.  

Will I cry? Probably, I usually do. 

Ok, enough stalling. Lights off, time for bed.  

Tomorrow is almost here. 

April 14, 2021 19:47

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

45 comments

Zilla Babbitt
22:41 Apr 18, 2021

I know I'm late but I don't care. I gave myself a lot of time to read this and I'm glad I did. I just love the format, it was really awesome to get to the fights and "the D word" and know what you were talking about. Love that the end mirrors the beginning. Love the titles of the entries and all the anguish and love mixed in. No critiques, just a typo under April 21st 2021. "What'a" instead of "What's..." This had better get a shortlist at least, I mean it. This deserves a shortlist or a win.

Reply

Thom Brodkin
23:21 Apr 18, 2021

You were the first person I ever read on Reedsy and the person I’ve always looked to for advice. Thank you for being a good friend. It means the world to me when you take time to give such genuine feedback. You’ve helped me become a better writer for sure.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kristin Neubauer
21:48 Apr 14, 2021

Oh my gosh! This is such a cool story! I mean it's sad for sure - the dissolution of a marriage, the ebbing away of love. And yet, I loved how you showed the words of marriage can be the same words of divorce. So clever! I also love how you went way out on a limb here and experimented with something so different from your usual style. It was amazing. No matter what you do, you never disappoint. I'm sorry to say I don't have anything new to post on my page - unless your want to read: "Burnout in Journalists: An Evaluation Proposal of...

Reply

Thom Brodkin
22:52 Apr 14, 2021

Burnout in Journalists: An Evaluation Proposal of a Single System Design Applying Reflective Guided Journaling As an Intervention Is one of my all time favorites. I hope they get Russell Crowe to play the lead in the movie. 😀 Seriously, thanks so much for taking the time to read and give feedback. It helps spur me on to try new stories and new styles.

Reply

Kristin Neubauer
22:59 Apr 14, 2021

Yes - you must keep writing! You would disappoint a lot of people if you stopped. I think I’ve read most of your stories from the beginning and, although you have been an excellent writer from the start, I can see the confidence building in the willingness to take chances on new things and that is super exciting to watch and to follow. I seriously get a giddy-rubbing-my-hands-together-in-anticipation moment when I see you’ve posted because I know there will be something special in whatever you write. Can’t wait for the next!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
The Manticore
22:55 Apr 23, 2021

It is not the commas. You are a brilliant writer.

Reply

Thom Brodkin
23:05 Apr 23, 2021

Manticore, you rock. Thanks.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
17:34 Apr 17, 2021

I wasn't expecting the beginning and end to be the same, and I really like how it becomes circular. When I read the first section, I thought it was going to be about how the narrator met the new fiance, but what followed was much more interesting. I think my favorite section is the one about the 'Lost' finale. I feel like there could be more here about their daughter, but I'm not sure how I'd work that in, so I guess I don't really have any suggestions (sorry!) Good work trying something new - it's very effective!

Reply

Thom Brodkin
20:44 Apr 19, 2021

Thank you so much. I looked up the day of the Lost finale to make sure I was historically accurate. I've written almost all my stories from a male perspective so this was very scary and I'm so glad it seems to have worked. I think you are right about having a little more of Joy in the story but I struggled to find a place to add her in more than I had. I'll probably think of one right after they approve this one. :-)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Claire Lewis
21:23 Apr 16, 2021

Finally getting to this at the end of a long week! I love the style. It’s so sparse and reflective but you manage to tell us a lot about your characters even within the stylistic limitations. I think that the terse statements say a lot more than long, florid descriptions would. Really incredible writing, and I loved the circular nature of some of the themes. Every time I look back there are more details to piece together. I’m glad you’re back, I’ve missed your stories! :)

Reply

Thom Brodkin
00:07 Apr 17, 2021

I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Almost all of what I write is from a male perspective. I challenged myself on this one. Now I have to catch up to you. 😀

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
H L Mc Quaid
18:00 Apr 16, 2021

Hi Thom. Really interesting take on the prompt, journal entries spanning 21 years. The writing was very good, the narrator's voice felt authentic, and the contrast between the wedding day and the finalisation of the divorce was poignant. I think the only comment I have, is that it seemed there were many more bad days than good. And maybe that's okay, but I wondered why she stayed with him for so long (maybe for their daughter's sake?). So I dunno, maybe there could be few more bright points interspersed, because that's also true-to-life. A...

Reply

Thom Brodkin
18:12 Apr 16, 2021

Your critique is spot on. I'm almost embarrassed to say I went back and added another positive entry to kind of balance it but I may take your advice and try to add at least one more. I think it would give it more depth. Thank you for your time and good advice.

Reply

H L Mc Quaid
18:24 Apr 16, 2021

Glad it was helpful. And, I don't know whether this would work with the style you have here, as it's quite lean (which I like), but maybe there's a way to add a few good elements into one or two of the bad days, rather than adding another whole good day? Again, not sure that would work with how you've done it (which is really good), so that may be a crap idea. ;)

Reply

Thom Brodkin
18:44 Apr 16, 2021

Trust me, none of your ideas are crap. 😊 I went back and added a 15th anniversary. A good day in a string of bad ones. It still has more bad than good but I think that's why it ended. I think it's better because of your advice though. Thank you.

Reply

H L Mc Quaid
18:52 Apr 16, 2021

Yeah, agree, it makes sense if there is more shade than light. Nice job. 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Julie Ward
13:30 Apr 16, 2021

This is an incredible piece, Thom. You say it's out of your comfort zone, well, I think that friction has produced a diamond. What a beautiful, honest, bittersweet story. A parting from your usual style for sure - It's simple and clean, yet bursting with the kind of emotion you are so good at conveying. You captured the weight of a long marriage so well, revealing it in such rich layers. The repetitive language you used to describe the couple's routines, the evolution of their little family, their ups and the downs-it all flows, paints a ...

Reply

Thom Brodkin
13:53 Apr 16, 2021

You always say the exact things I need to hear. I have really tried to challenge myself so I can get better. I see the diversity in your writing and it makes me want to develop that skill as well. I hope life lets you write soon. Your fans, myself included, miss it when you don't.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jane Andrews
04:41 Apr 16, 2021

Dear Thom, so many times you tell me you’ve written a story that’s a little outside your comfort zone - and each and every time, you prove that going outside your comfort zone works. The choice of the diary format here enables you to show the slow disintegration of the marriage and the use of repetition is effective (sorry to disagree with you, Karen, but the repetition of ‘make up sex’ becomes a leit-motif here and is really powerful) because using the same words or phrases entries apart highlights the changing emotions of the character. I ...

Reply

Thom Brodkin
12:38 Apr 16, 2021

Have I told you lately how much I missed you while you were away? I missed reading you and I miss being read by you. More than anything I think from the very beginning you got me. You saw what I was trying to do in my writing and helped me to make it better. Both through your feedback and example. I want to thank you for the feedback about the make up sex. It helped me remember what I was trying to do in the first place. Both you and Karen really saw this at a cellular level and now the story is better for it. Thanks so much for ever...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Karen Kinley
01:58 Apr 16, 2021

First of all, I love the risk you took with a piece so different from your other stories (at least the ones I've read so far). It's sweet and sentimental and sad and very real. You've captured the frenetic emotions of a woman very well! Kudos for that! The line "I still love the sound of his voice" really resonated with me, as I've always felt this way about my husband and I've never seen it expressed in writing before! Also, I love the full circle of the story, that it ends where it began..."an end and a beginning." Now for the tough love....

Reply

Thom Brodkin
03:41 Apr 16, 2021

First and foremost you are right so right. I am a fantastic writer. 😀. Just kidding, I agree with all you said. I think there is more there for this story. It’s a good start but it needs a little extra. I’m not sure if I can fix it totally but I’m going to at least clean up the make up sex overuse and try to fix the breastfeeding thing. I’ve never breastfed but my wife did and it was a train wreck at first. I think I romanticized it because it always seems like such a bond between a mother and child. One we dads will never know. Please pro...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Thom Brodkin
12:32 Apr 16, 2021

I changed the part about breastfeeding. You were so right about that. I left the make up sex as it was. Either on purpose or by accident I wanted to show the evolution of fights and sex. It was repetitive but I think appropriate. Hat tip to Jane she helped me with that also. I still have some time before it's approved. I may try to infuse it with little more soul while I still have the chance.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Thom Brodkin
19:20 Apr 16, 2021

Update, I added two more entries and cleaned up some other things. I hope I gave it some of the soul that was missing.

Reply

Karen Kinley
02:33 Apr 17, 2021

I like the added entries! They provide a little more depth for sure! And as for the "make up sex" stuff.....the wonderful part of getting all this good feedback is hearing all those differing opinions and then deciding for yourself how you want the story to unfold. Glad to be part of your posse!

Reply

Thom Brodkin
17:16 Apr 17, 2021

To be a good writer you have to read good writers. When those writers care enough to help you it's extra special. If I have a posse, I'm proud to have you in it and I am also always at your disposal even if it's just to read your stories because I love to read your stories.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Thom Brodkin
23:14 Apr 18, 2021

Ok I may be pushing my luck but I just posted one called “The Promise.” No rush of course but if you want to give it a read I’d be very grateful.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 3 replies
Willow Byrd
22:22 Apr 15, 2021

Gosh, Thom, this was gorgeous from start to finish. The title caught me right from the start, and the story was beautiful and heartbreaking. You have a magical way of writing that pulls the reader into your words so completely. It's real and raw and really wonderful. The highs and lows of love were captured so perfectly here, and I think you used this prompt quite perfectly. Crossing my fingers for a shortlist. You deserve it, my friend. Keep writing!

Reply

Thom Brodkin
23:10 Apr 15, 2021

You can’t know how much I appreciate your time and insight. I always come back to you when I have a new story because you make me want to write more. Thank you.

Reply

Willow Byrd
00:27 Apr 16, 2021

Of course, keep writing always! You truly have a gift.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Anna Mosqueda
22:44 Apr 14, 2021

This was great Thom! I really enjoyed the rollercoaster that the narrator went through and it really showed a raw image of an imperfect marriage. You were very clever and intelligent with this story, I will say that. I cannot wait for more! I finally have a new story out called "Heaven and Back," if you would like to read that at some point. It's in the memory of little moments I had with my grandfather before he passed the other week.

Reply

Thom Brodkin
22:50 Apr 14, 2021

I would be honored to. I will try to tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for the feedback. It was a different kind of story for me and was hard to write.

Reply

Anna Mosqueda
22:52 Apr 14, 2021

Thanks! Well, you handled it very well ;)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Shea West
05:43 Apr 26, 2021

My grandmother kept a very brief daily journal entry every day of her life, from as early as age 10. I often imagine what some of them said, especially when being in a family as a wife and parent can feel so different all the time. What I noticed and like very much about this story is how the initial few an entries are brief, almost matter of fact. As we work our way through there's more detail, more to the story of their life together-as if the effort in the relationship correlated to the effort written in the journal. I dig that a whole ...

Reply

Thom Brodkin
19:19 Apr 28, 2021

Shea, first of all congrats on your win. It makes your kind words even more important. It was a departure from my normal stories but it was good to get outside my box. I hope you get a chance to read some of my other stories. I plan on giving yours a look see as well. Again, thanks for your time and your feedback. It's really what Reedsy is all about.

Reply

Shea West
19:51 Apr 28, 2021

You're so very welcome Thom! You are generous in your flattery, as I'm a novice to this whole writing thing- That is I didn't really sit down until last September and start writing with intention. I am happy to read some more of your stories. If you do head over to my profile, Smile, Dahlias in the Bucket, and An Alligator Hug are some of my faves.

Reply

Thom Brodkin
20:06 Apr 28, 2021

I will read all three. You should be proud of what you have accomplished as a new writer. It means you have the gift. Keep writing and I'll keep reading. 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Cathryn V
23:46 Apr 24, 2021

Hi Thom, Firstly, I love the cleverness of the piece--the structure and the repetition. I like device of time segments which allow a beginning and end to each entry. The way you've captured a woman/wife's feelings in a rocky marriage is spot on. This couple had big problems in the first year, which is a foreshadowing (but in reverse) of the rest of the piece. You're use of the end and beginning as the same is brilliant. It is so well done. I like the references to make-up sex. There's so much in here that has universal resonance. What d...

Reply

Thom Brodkin
23:56 Apr 24, 2021

This is perfect feedback. Encouraging and helpful. It was a challenge to write. I write almost all my stories from a male point of view. Mainly because I am one. 😀 I really wanted to get outside my comfort zone. I’ll be back to you in the future. I like your writing style and your even handed feedback. Thank you again.

Reply

Cathryn V
00:20 Apr 25, 2021

So glad to hear that. I’m on Reedsy mainly for critique and to improve as a writer. I have a completed memoir that I hope to have published. I need to get some shorts out there for a list of pubs. So many people on here are supportive and kind but not giving honest feedback. I like to do the same for others but not sure everyone appreciates it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Nina Chyll
21:29 Apr 19, 2021

The thing I really enjoyed about this story were the little details, like the child sticking their foot into the cake and the dad having it. Or like the finale of Lost. They seem of no consequence, but these are the spots where the real flavour of the story sits, so I’d probably try to include one of those per “scene”.

Reply

Show 0 replies
The Manticore
19:13 Apr 17, 2021

Doc is updated, monsigneur!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Amel Parvez
21:27 Apr 17, 2021

Beautiful!

Reply

Thom Brodkin
22:51 Apr 17, 2021

Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Reply

Amel Parvez
12:08 Apr 18, 2021

No prob =)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply