I hope you all have been enjoying these stories. The participation was surprising. Please feel free to share or comment on any of these stories.
I had made him cry. Now he was gone.
Just the thought makes me shiver, although it must be in the mid-80s. The barista looks at me like I’m crazy when I walk up to the counter and ask him for a large hot tea.
Holding the comforting cup in both hands, I cross the street and find a nearby bench. Looking at the lush foliage—the fan palms and the ground-hugging bromeliads—I wonder if I should leave. Erase everything, all memories of him. But how do you erase the best part of yourself? Can you? Can you return to an earlier time, when things were simpler?
Things had gotten so snarled. We’d be doing so well. Then we weren’t. It was a never-ending cycle. I can still see that one time months ago. Me landing in the pile of dirty clothes by the washer. What had happened? I can’t remember. I had said something wrong, done something stupid, that had sparked the anger, but all I can remember is the push.
I close my eyes. The makeup sex had been fierce, violent, but only indistinctly recalled. What I see, almost as a third person, is the push.
Across the street there’s a woman with wiry hair piled messily on top of her head squeegeeing the window of the shop next to the cafe. Putting the tool down, she dips a brush into a bucket and begins to outline something on the glass in red.
He was so passionate. In everything. In business, socially, between us. Just a look from his dark, intense eyes could make me weak in the knees. He touched so many people, making them engage—laugh or debate or just brighten. Why, then, was my contribution making him cry?
Strains of music, a Christmas song I can’t quite place, drift through the traffic to me. The season of snow and ice doesn’t fit with this green and heat. I’d leave if I could. What am I staying for?
The money. What else? If I can stay the course, I can earn enough to go. Somewhere north, cold, clean. A place like the one I’d spent so much of my childhood dreaming to escape, but which now seems so desirable.
The woman has begun with emerald green. Holly? I take a sip. The hot liquid makes sweat start out on my forehead, but at least I no longer feel chilled.
He tried so hard to help me. Half my success is due to his contacts, his advice. He opened doors I didn’t even know existed.
Why did I push him away?
I need the shock of cold, a blast of clean, sharp wind to erase all this. The river of my childhood springs to mind—pushing off, gathering speed, skating in large arcs till my face tingled, till I lost all feeling. This cloying heat makes me feel too much.
I’ve lost my love. That’s all I can think of.
He lived for the moments we were alone. Or maybe he just knew they were important to me. We’d sit close, my leg looped over his. I can still feel my fingertip brushing a lock of his dark hair off his face, then running that same finger over his lip, firm, smooth, hot.
White has been added to the glass canvas across the street. A snowflake begins to emerge. The woman works confidently, fast. Is this her job? Going from window to shop window, painting pictures? Evoking feelings of a holiday that seems so incongruous here?
A guy with a ponytail and high fade passes in front of me, jolting me. I look around, wondering what I look like to the passersby as I sit, hunched forward, arms on thighs, holding a cup of tea. Forlorn? Desperate?
As our other friendships fell away, we’d spend more and more time in coffee shops, outdoor cafes, and on walks along the reservoir. We’d stand on top of the dam, feeling alone even with the hikers walking by. Eventually we found a small opening in the underbrush where we could descend closer to the water and where no one could see us. He’d strip a small branch he’d picked up, throwing bits and pieces down into the water while we talked and talked and talked.
I can still picture the detritus slowly swirling away, while we discussed our jobs, the future, his plans for me. It was just the two of us cocooned against the world. I felt safe and loved.
He felt it, too. I know it bothered him if he came upon me chatting on the phone to someone else. We were complete. We needed nothing and no one but ourselves.
The woman is now writing something in large, scrolling script. Probably not Merry Christmas, even though there’s a large Santa face in the corner. Can one be jolly in this weather? It doesn’t seem appropriate.
We were self-sufficient even when I was sick or hurt. He was so tender and competent. He could patch me up and make me whole. Where is that comfort now?
Giddy. Transcendently happy. That’s what I was. To be the focus of such a man, such a force, really. As we grew together, we disregarded everyone else, and they eventually stopped calling. It was such a gradual thing. I barely noticed.
And he needed me just as much. When things went bad, he was always penitent, even when it was my fault, which was most of the time. The flowers, the heartfelt apologies, the increasing closeness made a spat so inconsequential.
The woman is packing all her gear away into a plastic milk crate. She stands back, admiring her efforts. It is a work of art, taking real talent. A bit chintzy, but what isn’t at Christmas?
The last time I saw him was after twilight. The park was officially closed, but no one could see us in our spot, and we sometimes stayed late. He told me he was leaving me.
I look into my empty cup and know I have to get moving. Things to do, places to be.
They will find him. I know that. Even with all the coyotes and other predators, when he washes up he’ll be found. I close my eyes, standing by the bench, seeing again the drifting detritus.
They’ll come to see me. That’s also a given. After all, who was he closest to?
Lisa Williamson has been published in several anthologies. In addition to fiction, she has written for magazines, newspapers and websites. She is currently finishing a mystery novel, Stakeout.
It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down on the windshield, sending multi colored beams of light refracted along the dashboard and beige cloth seats of the beat-up Toyota Corolla. Lydia stared at the array of rainbow colors emanating from the star-shaped glass charm on the rearview mirror. The charm her mother had given her before she left for college. She looked in her backseat and saw her Dalmation, Delilah, her faithful companion of five years and travel partner. She remembered when she had gotten Delilah. The puppy had been a graduation present, also from her mom. Lydia looked from Delilah back to the glass charm dangling from the mirror, slowly turning in the blast of cold air coming from the air conditioning vents.
She reflected on where she had gone since college. It felt like nowhere fast. It had been five years of one thankless, dead-end job after another and she had gotten fed up with it. So, three weeks ago Lydia had finally decided it was time for a change. She emptied her bank accounts and maxed out her credit cards to pursue her dream. This trip had been a long time coming, she thought now as she sat listening to Delilah’s quiet snores drifting up from the back seat.
Lydia had been dreaming of the open road for years and finally, she was here. Things had gotten complicated back home, with her mother’s illness and her love life in the toilet, and no new job offers after months and months of searching, applying, interviewing. So she had waited. And after her mom had recovered and after the inevitable break-up of her failed relationship, she knew the time was right. It was now or never.
The sky turned dark suddenly, and somewhere in the distant thunder rolled. Giant drops of rain began to plink-plunk onto her windshield. She decided she better get back on the road now if she was going to make good time. She put the Toyota into reverse and turned out onto the highway from where she had stopped to fill up, the last gas station before the state border. Lydia knew once she turned onto I-40 West there would be nothing but miles and miles ahead, and nothing to stop her. She eased on the gas at first. And then, pushing it harder and harder, she watched as the little Corolla’s speedometer went up and up. And though she couldn’t see the sun, she knew it was there, guiding her and leading the way.
Doubts still grew in her mind, however. What if she didn’t make it? What if she ran out of money? What if she ran out of gas? Or steam? A life on the road could be a lonely one, even with a wonderful, furry companion. So many obstacles stood ahead. But what did they matter, really? There were obstacles all around you if you looked hard enough. She decided to remain positive and to focus on what made her happy. And this, this made her happy.
Twenty minutes later the radio station started to fuzz as the clouds slowly dissipated. Whatever doubts she had felt at the start of this expedition faded away with them as the sun came back into view, brighter and hotter than ever. She turned the AC up and blew a kiss to Delilah, who was looking at her curiously from her backseat view. Lydia tuned her internet radio to the Tom Petty station and turned the volume up. And as American Girl blared from the speakers, she thought, I’m getting my piece of the pie, I’m getting what’s mine, as she began to sing along.
And like that, Lydia was gone, her past in the rearview mirror behind her, and her future straight ahead, as bright as that burning sun.
My name is Jessica Dupree. I am a Freelance Writer and Graphic Designer with a couple of writer pages and blogs I mostly upload for my own amusement. My passion is blogging and story telling and my dream is to become a travel writer/blogger. I hope to make it to publication one day. But if I don’t I’ll consider myself lucky to be able to live a life on the road, traveling and seeing the world and getting to write about my experiences. To learn more, please visit her Author website.
I knew writing this letter to John would be crushing to him, but I didn’t care. After all, I was rich now and living in Madrid. Why would I care what he thought about me any longer? I outsmarted him at his own game and I was the winner take all! Too many of those times that I kept telling myself, Jane you gotta keep on pushing and love yourself through the hard times. Always remembering how John would tell me that I gotta keep my patience, that there is still a long way to go now whenever we were planning a heist. Yes, we are criminals if anyone one was unsure about that, we made sure it was clear to them by the time we robbed them and took any valuables that they owned. U + plus me is what I always told John before we went in to raid a building, bank or even a house to steal what we wanted. I sit here at the desk in my room at my five-star hotel, in my soft, plush white robe with my pen in hand ready to tell the raw and necessary truth to my Dear John.
I gave new meaning to the word love. I must’ve been crazy to think you loved me. All of the lies and treachery just pulled at me like a wining child pulling on its mother’s leg in a grocery store. I did the time across the line for you when I robbed the bank and brought every dime back to you. Cause I couldn’t see myself with nobody else but you when we would plan a heist, only you! Tell me what you’re thinking ‘cause this is what you wanted. You wanted me to be naïve and dumb so that you could’ve have taken the money and run.
I had an alternate plan that you never expected to come your way. When you didn’t want me to have friends, I kept secret friends. When you should’ve been the one to hold me when I got lonely, I had others hold me. Cause’ every time I think of the lies you told to me, I found someone that passed the test of being truthful to me. Man, you make it so easy for me to leave, what you gave me was priceless. U + me was a love lesson. I was in too deep without imperfection and I was not always good, but I stayed on my feet. I was loyal and you had me.
You should’ve never questioned the love, the loyalty or the desire to please you. U + me was a love lesson that I thought about on my daily commute to work. I was riding wherever you were going and afraid at the same time. At times, I wanted to leave, but I didn’t want to be lonely in this big house that you thought was so special. I guess I thought the sex was the best because can’t deny the fact that you were my one and only. Little did I know that my secret lovers would change my view on what the difference is between a man and a boy. Love that I would do and the love I knew is long gone and is never returning for you.
My parents always knew that we were not meant to be together. I fought and fought to keep us together until I realized I had to turn my back because you were a silly boy that didn’t realize this is the real thing. I just can’t deny the fact that we don’t belong together. I guess it ain’t the real thing after all. So here’s to the cheating, that lead to the fighting, that lead to the break up and then to the divorce. U + me was a love lesson after all.
I made sure that I didn’t use the hotel stationary, nor did I place a return address for John to have any idea of what part of the country I was located in. I sat back in the desk chair after licking the envelope and sealing it, ready to be mailed to the U + me of my life. There’s so much to learn. Most of us survive when we trust the love that’s deep in us, then love will return. At least that’s what I will keep telling myself. Boy this thing was a love lesson.
Elise Patterson just released her latest book called The House on Zoan Street. Elise considers herself the author of variety, due to the fact that she loves to write about a wide range of topics. Topics that can motivate you or maybe even scare you!
Here are stories from prior weeks: 1st week, 2nd week, 3rd week, and 4th week, 5th week and 6th week. Don’t forget to subscribe for more information on future writing prompts, writing advice, expat life, etc.