How We Used To Be

Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: Write a story that involves a flashback.... view prompt


Fiction Romance Drama

You spend years of your life with someone. You get to know their favorite foods. You get to know what their hair looks like first thing in the morning. You get to know about every single detail of them. You find yourself in love with everything about them, even the bad parts. You think there won’t ever come a day where you would despise that person. You would be wrong. You would be so completely wrong. I could be biased, but I’m just speaking from experience. I hate my husband. I hate when he comes home from work and goes straight to the couch. I hate when I make dinner and he doesn’t say thank you. We used to be so enamored with each other. I remember when he first asked me to marry him 5 years ago.

5 years ago

“Lea, I have loved you for two years. I want to love you forever, but I don’t even think a lifetime will be enough. I can’t imagine this life without you. I can’t imagine this beach without you. You are my best friend. I will never stop loving you, not for one moment, not for one second. Lea, baby. Please do me the greatest solid in the entire world and marry me. Be my wife?” Daniel knelt on his knee and looked up to me. He held up a little black box and slowly began to open it.

I stood shocked and completely overwhelmed with joy. The ocean breeze blowing my long, honey blonde hair behind me and the little birds chirping as they fly over the crashing waves. I stare down at Dan and my heart immediately fills with so much love and happiness. I don’t even need to see the ring to know I’m going to say yes to this wonderful man. I do see the ring though. How can I ignore it? It is my dream ring- a large, white gold, split shank diamond ring. I see the stones glistening, begging to be wrapped around my finger. I feel a tear escape my eye and I fall to my knees with him, wrapping my arms around him.

“I’m taking that as a yes, baby?” He laughed and I nod, hugging him tighter. I never want to let go.

“One thousand percent yes! I love you so much!” I lean back up and kiss him. I taste the saltiness of our tears combined. He’s crying with me and everything is perfect as he slips the gorgeous ring onto my finger.


I can look back and appreciate it all. I’ll glance down at my ring, but I don’t feel the joy that I once did on that beach years ago. I guess I take back what I said previously. I don’t hate or despise Dan. I’ve spent 7 years of my life with him. He has never cheated that I know of. He hasn’t yelled at me or hit me. He just isn’t the same Dan and I suppose I’m not the same Lea. We don’t even argue with each other. We sleep turned away from each other. We don’t have any sort of connection anymore. I guess I don’t hate him. I just hate us. I hate who we have become.

 It started about a few months ago- the dwindling of us. We were in love and then slowly, it was just different. He stopped being a good husband and then I stopped being a good wife. We never mention it, or bring up getting divorced. We just live our lives together, but separate. I know what a lot of people would say. “If you don’t love him or each other, then just divorce and walk away.” It isn’t that simple to me. Call it my pride or whatever, but I’m not going to be the first to say it or bring it up.

I hear Dan’s truck pull up into the drive. I’m sitting on the couch, laptop in lap, working on a report for my job. He walks in and I take a good look at him. Curly, dark brown hair, deep hazel eyes, and a sharp jawline. He was handsome. He was always handsome, but that isn’t enough for me. I want passion. I want the overwhelming love. The kind of love where everything around you fades away because the only thing in that moment that truly matters is you and them. I want the kind of love where your skin tingles just from the thought of them. I used to have that with Dan, but somewhere along the way, we lost it. We stopped trying.

“Hello.” Dan says as he steps into the house. He shuts the door and walks back into the bedroom.

I don’t say anything as he passes by. I keep my focus on my laptop. I look at my screensaver. It’s a picture of us. I’m on his back, my arms and legs wrapped around him. He has his head tilted back slightly, his mouth open in a loud laugh. I have my head jutted forward, leaning against the side of his head and I am in the middle of a laugh too. The sandy beach is in the background behind us. It was our spot. We declared it our spot on our very first date, when we were both only nineteen.

7 years ago

“C’mon. I promise you will love it.” Daniel gently grabbed my hand and led me across the dark mahogany, wooden pier. I feel everything around me fade away as this cute boy holds my hand. I want to be closer to him and I haven’t even known him for 24 hours.

We get through the exit of the pier and our bare feet hit the grainy sand. I give him a face and he laughs. "You’ll understand once we get out there.” He points to the middle of the dark, secluded beach. I was not a big fan of the beach, but I think I would follow this boy just about anywhere.

He’s still holding my hand as we reach his destination. He plops down on his back and I hesitate before doing the same. “Close your eyes and lay your head back.” He said. I listen. I feel the light, midnight breeze on my face and I hear the calm swooshing of the waves. It is the best feeling ever, especially with him next to me. I open my eyes and turn to face Daniel, the boy I met about twelve hours ago at the downtown library. He’s already turned my way, looking at me. “Jesus, Lea. You’re breathtaking.”

I feel my cheeks practically glow red. I grab his hand again and move closer. “I think I can change my mind about the beach, but only if you’re always the one here with me .”

“We can make it our spot.” He sits up quickly. “Yeah, let’s do it. We have to let everyone know first.” He says looking around.

“Daniel, we are the only ones out here. How are they going to know?” I say to him.


I burst out laughing. “Daniel! Stop! You are going to get us kicked out or banished forever and then we can never come back!” I can’t stop laughing. I grab his hand and pull him back down on the sand.

“You are literally insane.” I say, still giggly and smiling.

He puts his hand on my cheek and we kiss. Time stops, electricity shoots throughout my whole body, and I just know that this crazy boy is going to be everything to me.


I snicker thinking about that whole day. I had just met him at a random library on a random Saturday, and we went on an all-day adventure. It was the best day and night of my life. I miss it more than anything. Dan walks out of the bedroom and sits at the end of the other side of the couch, scrolling through his phone. He doesn’t speak for a good five minutes. “Did you make dinner?” He finally says without looking up.

Of course. It’s never about how my day went or his day. It’s definitely not an apology for how he changed entirely. It’s about freaking dinner. “You can go look yourself.” I snap at him while keeping my eyes focused on my computer. I’ve never snapped at him. We try to avoid the awkwardness of such arguments.

I hear his phone drop on his lap. “Are you upset?”

I made a noise, somewhere between a scoff and a laugh. “No.”

“It seems like it. Talk to me.” He says, fully turning to me.

“Talk to you? That’s funny.” I say still not looking at him.

“How is that funny? I’m your husband.” I finally looked at him, his face had a genuine look of hurt and shock.

“You sure don’t act like it anymore.” I snap again at him. I feel a pit of anxiety and anger inside my belly. We never argue. I don’t know what’s going on with me tonight. I guess it’s because of all the old memories I keep flashbacking to. I just need to snap. I need to know why he changed.

“Me? You don’t act like a wife anymore! You barely speak to me or even look at me anymore. You haven’t for months.” He waves his hands around, his face turning into a mix of anger and frustration.

“Why do you think I do that? Huh? I do it because that’s what you have been doing. I do it because you stopped appreciating me. You stopped thanking me for things. You stopped making love to me! You stopped everything!” I feel myself tearing up, my hands slightly shaking. “Did you cheat on me?”

His face slowly turns softer. “What? Cheat on you? Lea...” His hand reaches out to me.

I back away from him and wait for his confirmation. “Just tell me.”

“Lea, I would never cheat on you. I don’t care what issues we are having. I would never do that to you. I love you.” His anger is completely dissolved. I don’t know what to think. Deep down, I know he would never cheat, but I don’t know what’s happening with us lately.

“I stopped doing all of that stuff because you felt distant. I haven’t made love to you because it always feels like you don’t want that anymore. It’s no excuse. I know I should be more appreciative and I know I haven’t been my old self.” He says.

“I haven’t been my old self either, Dan. It’s not all on you. I have been going over and over all day about the past and how much I wish we could go back to when it was easier. We were so happy.” I look up at him, tears forming in my eyes.

“C’mon. Let’s go to our spot.” He says, holding out his hand.

I look at him like he’s crazy, wiping the tears from my eyes. “You want to go to the beach right now? You just got off work and I haven’t made dinner yet.”

“So you didn’t make dinner?” He smirks at me. “I’m joking. I don’t care about any of that stuff, Lea. I want to fix this. Tonight. We are going to our spot. We are going to talk this through all night if we have to. I love you.”

I take his hand, tingles shooting up my arm from the familiarity of his warm touch. “I love you, Dan. I’m sorry for how I have been acting too. I want to fix this.” I smile at him for the first time in forever and it feels amazing, a heavy weight lifting off of my shoulders.

We walk across the dark mahogany, wooden pier until our toes touch the grainy sand. I feel everything around me fade away as my husband holds my hand. I feel myself wanting to be closer to him. We reach our spot and lay on our backs, closing our eyes, feeling the light, midnight ocean breeze, and the calm swooshing of the waves. I turn to him, but he’s already looking at me. He puts his hand on my cheek and we kiss. Time stops, electricity shoots throughout my whole body, and I just know that this man is going to be everything to me all over again.

April 07, 2022 08:18

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Liam Murphy
21:42 Apr 07, 2022

This is tragically beautiful Shelby. Maybe a little too close to the bone, and that's why the story didn't get the recognition it so desvesered


Shelby B
10:43 Apr 08, 2022

Thank you again! I just wrote this one, but hopefully it gets some more love later on. Thank you for reading and for the support!


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