The One Who Ran Away

The memories of him and I linger on to this day. I still think of him every so often when driving to work or seeing the cafe he introduced me to. I can’t go in there anymore. The painful memories of him still haunt me, and I fear I will never exterminate them.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw him. He wore a tight-fitting polo shirt and cargo pants that exposed his tanned, muscular legs. He worked in at the bell station and dispatched calls from a tiny cubby close to my department. So I got to see him every day that he worked. Of all the men who worked valet, he was by far the most attractive. I even caught other women admiring him when they thought he wasn’t looking.

Before I took the job at the resort, I worked retail and rarely had the time to write my never-ending book. Working guest services made things a little easier. But I was able to write and finish my book. I’m not sure how it happened, but we started talking at random times, and he asked to read my book.

“You wrote a book?” he asked as I hung out in the doorway of his tiny office.

“Yeah. Took me forever, though.” I laughed girlishly.

“Can I read it?”

I hesitated, surprised at his eagerness. We barely knew each other.

“Yeah, sure!” I grinned.

The manuscript was shit, but he was so excited to read it that I printed it off anyway. I would print off a chapter at a time, and he would tell me his thoughts. It was always overly positive, of course. I wasn’t born yesterday. When someone gives you positive reviews about something you know is bad, they like you. This went on for a few weeks. I printed off a chapter or two, he read it, we flirted, I printed the next one. The more chapters I gave him, the more we talked. The more we talked, the closer we became.

I soon found out he was involved with someone. She worked at the hotel too. I knew about her and saw her around his office, but I acted ignorant. All we did was talk. With all the talking we did, he eventually opened up to me.

“We actually broke up a while ago,” he admitted, staring at the floor.

“Oh you did?” I asked. Meanwhile, my stomach and heart did cartwheels.

“Yeah, she still hangs around me though. I’ve told her to stop. She’s been… obsessive.”

“That’s not good. How long did you date?” I asked.

“About a year.”

“Wow, that’s a long time…” I faded off. I hoped I didn’t cause them to break up. I didn’t ever want to be that girl.

He struggled with the breakup too and needed someone to talk to. I was that person. Then he told me he wanted to talk about it outside of work. To say the least, I was elated. Not because he was going through something rough. Just knowing I would get one on one time with him made my heart race. I rarely hung out with coworkers outside of work. And even more rare, someone I liked.

I had an interview at a restaurant later and we decided to eat there. Despite getting to see him every day at work, the environment stifled me, and I wanted to leave it. We met at around eight in the morning to have breakfast and talked almost non-stop about his ex. I’ll admit it was awkward, but I already committed to it. According to him, she was crazy. Stalker-like. I felt bad for him. Here was this great looking guy having to watch his back and change his number because of one person. Her loss.

The longer we spoke, the less we talked about her. I learned he had a son, not with her but with another woman. I think this is something most women would not want to deal with, but I was all for it. A single dad–an attractive single dad–who needed the company of a friend in hard times. How could I not? He was in a custody battle with the mother too. So broken, in need of comfort. I cut the light, fun conversation short because I had an interview to get to.

The whole time I sat there with my future boss, all I could think about was how much he smiled at me.

The time that passed between then and the next time we hung out outside of work was a blur. Being around him was so simple. He suggested going downtown and walking around. He wanted to show me a cafe he frequented. It was the first time I had gone in there. Most guys I’m interested in don’t go to coffee shops, especially local ones with organic and local items. He was more like myself than I thought. We sat outside of the cafe under trees and shade. The weather never felt more perfect. I wore a dress that day, something I rarely do. But I wanted to dress up for him.

Once we felt we explored enough, I drove him back home. He invited me inside, and I delved deeper into who he was. He had a very small home. Maybe 300 square feet. It only had a bed, a table, a counter with a sink, and a bathroom. But it was the coziest and safest place I’ve ever felt. Everything looked clean and organized. The air smelled of incense, filling me with peace of mind. Several hours went by since we met up in the morning, so I thought it best if I went home, even though I really didn’t want to.

As I walked out to my car, he said the words that still send a shiver down my spine.

“Would you just kiss me already?”

For lack of a better word, I swooned.

I slowly walked back to him with my heart beating faster than sound. Yearning to kiss him all day, I felt relief that he wanted the same thing. Normally, I overthink everything, but in that moment, all I saw was him. Waiting. Waiting for my lips to touch his. So I did. And I lingered.

I can still feel it. Because the world stood still that day. I held that kiss above every other kiss. From his reaction, I could tell there was a spark.

“I’m gonna be on cloud 9 the rest of the day,” he said with a grin that wouldn’t quit.

I laughed because I didn’t think he was expecting such a long and tender kiss. Maybe just a peck. But he was asking for more than that. I watched as he faded from my rearview mirror. I couldn’t stop thinking of him the rest of the day.

Needless to say, we saw each other every day after that. I would go to his house, but we just sat in my car and talked. It didn’t matter where we were; everywhere felt so comfortable and easy. In the middle of a spiritual conversation, he would stop mid-sentence to lean over and kiss my lips. No tongue or anything. Just kiss and moan. I’m sure my face turned fifty shades of red that day. These were the most tender moments I had ever witnessed, and it was happening to me.

We were never “official”. Didn’t date, didn’t call each other boyfriend or girlfriend. Our relationship was different.

We just were.

Together. Content. Familiar.

A few amazing weeks passed by, and by that time I knew. I was in love.

I had been in love before but nothing like this. I had to tell him. I would regret it if I didn’t. Even though he told me he didn’t want to be in a relationship, I felt wrong not expressing how I truly felt. And I knew he felt it too. The way he looked at me, kissed me, held me, made love to me. It was obvious.

I invited him over to my house, and we sat on my bed and talked.

My heart pounded so fast because the “L” word was hanging over my head like a cloud. Although, the pounding wasn’t so much from excitement as it was from being terrified. Despite his warning of not wanting to be a couple, I ached to say the words.

“I love you,” I confessed just above a whisper.

He looked away and sighed heavily.

My jaw clenched and foot shook as tears began to stream down my face.

“I told you from the beginning… I don’t want to be in a relationship right now.”

I thought I changed his mind. But I fucked it up. Royally fucked it up.

“So we don’t need to be in a relationship. We can just keep doing what we’re doing.”

He sighed again. I could tell it was hard for him, but he didn’t budge.

Then he said, “I could tell you I love you too, but you would just take it the wrong way.”

Flabbergasted. “You do?” I said, trying to smile but confused by the last part.

“I knew you’d take it wrong,” he said, still not looking at me.

All I could do was sob. My fairytale dissolved into burning ashes at my feet. I never felt so emotional in all of my adult life. This man who clearly loved me, and admitted it, wanted to end everything just like that. My poor heart felt like it had just gone through the shredder.

He left, and I wanted so much to take back what I uttered so foolishly.

I am not a person who lets go easily.

I texted him almost every day, trying to convince him to change his mind. I even told him I would come to his house so we could talk. I drove by his place several times after that just to relive the memories. He was never home.

I quit my job at the hotel and took the job I interviewed for. I never saw him after that. I stayed in touch with some women from my department and asked how we was and if he ever talked about me. He didn’t. I was gone from his life. I wrote him a letter and put it in his mailbox, apologizing for what happened and wanting everything to go back to the way things were. No answer.

I emailed him, several times, confessing that I felt like an obsessed ex, much like his ex we talked about once upon a time. Love made me do stupid things. It soon became clear why his ex girlfriend treated him the way she did. I realized I was like her and understood how she felt. She wasn’t the bad guy. It was him. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

##

The Kiosk Man

“Come on Frankie, I need to get a dress today. Before all the good ones disappear…” Jill whines in the passengers side seat of my car.

“Yeah,” my friend Valerie adds. “The mall’s gonna be closing soon.”

I roll my eyes and blow the black bangs out of my face as I drive down the road. I hate high school, and Jill a constant reminder why. Sometimes I wish Jill and Valerie would both consider more important issues, than getting a fucking dress for prom. We’ve all been twice already, so I was just sick of dances at this point. They are always filled with guys who only want sex, or alcohol, or both. Usually both. College is just around the corner and I know the guys there are way more mature; at least in my experience. My older brother attends ‘U of A’ and I went to visit him once, and–well–let’s just say, I wish I could graduate early.

“Frank, turn here! You’re gonna miss it!” Jill turns my wheel a hard right into the mall driveway.

“Are you crazy?!” I yell as a car honks at me for reckless driving.

I put my arm out the window as an apology. “Such a bitch.”

“Hey, you’re the one not paying attention, ho bag,” she said.

Valerie popped her head up front. “Jill, cut it out. You know Frances doesn’t care for malls.”

“Whatever. Just park here,” she demanded.

I parked, but not where she wanted me to park. I swear, if she wasn’t my step dad’s daughter…

I walk a distance behind Jill with Valerie, my oldest friend. She’s been around since the beginning of high school, and her and I are both going to the same college. I guess she really likes me too, because she’s super smart. She could’ve gone in anywhere in the country.

We follow Jill inside and go through the automatic doors. The place is deserted. It’s Friday night though, so I’m not sure why it’s so empty. Shops blind me with their neon sale signs, and deafen me with blaring music that seems to not have anything but beats and auto tune. Getting me ready for prom, I guess.

As we walk through the halls of stores, a few kiosk booths line up in the middle. They’ve always reminded me of the crap that regular stores can never sell. So they pick the most attractive but persistent sales people to plop in front of them. Makes me wonder if harassment and asking random questions to strangers is listed on their resumes. Because what other self-respecting person would ever want that kind of job?

Speaking of…

“Miss! Miss, can I speak with you for just a minute?” a man in his early thirties ran up to me and Valerie.

“No, thanks,” I answer without hesitation.

“Oh, come on, I have some great perfume here! I think you would love it!”

I roll my eyes at Valerie and she does the same. Jill is way a head of us now, but then looks back when she notices we aren’t her shadow anymore.

“Hey, guys! Come on!” she barks.

This was a once in a lifetime chance to ditch the evil step-sister. And if that involves me buying a thousand dollars worth of perfume to get her out of my face, so be it.

“Sorry, Jill! We’ll be right there. Just go on without us!” I yell back with a fake smile.

She huffs off and walks even faster down the line of stores.

Valerie laughs and looks at me for an explanation.

“Let’s try some damn perfume!” I exclaim and walk back to the tall, tan skinned, man with gorgeous black hair.

“Great!” he flashes his perfect white teeth. “Try this one. I know you’ll love it.”

He squirts the fragrance on both of our wrists. As I move my hand up to take in the flowery perfume, I notice a much different smile creeping up his jaw line. I inhale it deep into my lungs, and as I try to distinguish the notes, something strange falls over me.

My eyes go blurry around the edges, making my bangs almost disappear and the salesman’s face the only thing in my line of vision. With every blink, it felt like a lifetime to open my lids again. I slowly turn to face Valerie to see if she was experiencing the same, and her expression reminds me of a woman trapped inside her own body, but has no control over it. I rub my fingers together, but I feel nothing. My skin crawls with numbness. I look around the area, but everyone walking by notice nothing out of the ordinary; and keep going.

I stare at the kiosk man who then grabs my hand and leads me down a corridor of the mall. What the fuck did he give to us? Why is it doing this to our bodies? My mind races with the worst thoughts imaginable. The man keeps looking back to make sure he isn’t being followed. My feet willingly follow him, but I’m not sure why. Am I a puppet and he’s the master? That analogy is so bad I could barf; if I was able too, that is.

I need to get out of this, but how? How long does this last? I need to control my body again; and get out of this prison. I glare at the back of his head, picturing myself head butting him, but he’s way too tall for that. Can kicking him work? I can try to sweep my feet under his and make him trip. I attempt to pick up my knees, just to experiment if I can move them in a way to prepare for a kick. But no matter how hard I try, they keep going the motions of a walk.

His hand. He’s holding my hand. Desperate to get away from the psychopath, I use all of my strength to pull his hand back. He looks back, directly at me. Did I do it? His face looks confused as if I moved in a way he didn’t like. He then grips my hand harder and all I could feel was pressure. We were moving faster now; running. I can smell the outside air, fresh and clear. Where the hell is he taking us?

We get to a car and he shoves us into the back seat. I look over to see Valerie with tears falling down her cheeks, but still wearing a vacant expression. The look on my best friends face will haunt me for the rest of my life; however long that is. What I wouldn’t give to see that bitch, Jill right about now. What I wouldn’t do to worry about mundane things like dresses and parking places…

“Looks like it’s wearing off quicker than I thought. Better get you home, quick,” the man said to us from the drivers seat. He then lets out this creepy, cliche, murdery laugh. It may have been cheesy, but it sends a chill down my spine, nonetheless. He’s going to kill us. I move my hand over to Valerie’s, assuming I touched it and I curl my fingers around hers.

I look over to my right, out the window and who do I see? Fucking Jill. Beautiful, perfect, wonderful Jill. She’s yelling and running over to the car. Her ear shattering screaming sounds like a fine tuned grand piano to me. She attempts to open the car doors, but he’s locked them. I watch her as she continues to shout loudly, cursing more than every sailor in existence. She may not be able to get into the car, but she’s sure attracting a lot of attention. She then scrambles through her giant purse and pulls out what looks to be a pocket knife. Before the kiosk man could pull out of the parking space, Jill stabs a tire with her knife.

The man panics as he realizes what she’s doing and spins his tires, trying to take off. But just before he does this, Jill was able to slash another tire. I will think twice before crossing her now. I mean, shit…

Her tactic works as his car rolls to a stop. The man eventually surrenders and gets out of the car. Several people gather around, trying to figure out what happened. Where the hell were all these people when we were kidnapped? Valerie and I step out of the car and Jill immediately hugs us.

“You guys okay? Did he hurt you?” Jill asks. Her face does not resemble her resting bitch face, but more of a concerning bitch face.

“We’re okay,” I say softly, regaining my vocals again.

We left the scene as cops pulled in to arrest the guy. What an asshole. He has something else to add to his outstanding resume now; kidnapping teenage girls. The three of us walk closely together back to the safety of my Buick Lacrosse.

“What are we doing?” Jill asked shortly. “I never got my dress, ’cause I was busy trying to find you guys.”

I stare back blankly at her. “Are you kidding me?”

Jill laughs. “No! I still need a dress for prom!”

I roll my eyes and keep walking. Where’s that fucking ‘puppet perfume’ when you need it.

This short story brought to you by this meme:

Kiosk Man.jpg

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Flash Fiction

This is from a Flash Fiction challenge in my writing group. The theme is “beginnings” and could be no more than 150 words. Enjoy!

 

I’ve been trapped inside this microscopic room my entire life with no trace of how I got here. It’s so cramped that I can’t stretch my legs out fully. No lights, no sound, no fun. The walls are ever changing, expanding, but still restrictive.

I can’t do it anymore. No more excuses; I need to get out of here.

Using what little strength I have, I thrust my extremities out as far I can. But the room shifts in a way I never expected. My body changes positions unwillingly and I suffer a callous breeze. I was wrong. This is too fast and sudden; I’m not ready. Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to speak ill of my creator.

But my resistance is futile as I am forced out of the snug, familiar room. This is the beginning of the end; goodbye old friend. I’m so sorry.

##

Gone: A Jynx and Dobby Story

This is a little quick story I wrote a few years ago. Enjoy!

“Crap! Is that the time?! I’ve gotta go!” she looks at the wall clock, pushes her feet into her shoes and grabs her keys. ”Bye pookie! I’ll miss you!” she kisses a small tan colored dog on the head and runs out the door.

The dog’s tail wiggles from side to side, but droops, as the door slams shut. The dog’s beady eyes stare at the doorknob for a few moments as whimpering follows. The dog goes from his sit position to down position. His precious moment eyes continually stare at the door, staying perfectly still. Silence waves over the small apartment.

“She’ s not coming back, you know,” a voice from the windowsill spoke.

“What do you mean?!” the dog’s ears perk up.

“She left you here to die,” a slender and silky black cat stretches out from his catnap.

“What?!” the dog runs over to the cat who jumps a bit at his approach.

“What do you mean, what? Do you think I would make something like that up, Dobby?” the cat dampens his paw and dramatically swipes it over his face.

“Cut it out Jynx. I don’t believe you!” Dobby barks.

Jynx pauses for a moment to stare down the dog with uncaring eyes and continues to bathe himself. Dobby angrily stares at Jynx for minute and begins to whine again. With an absent of response from the self-involved feline, Dobby returns to his normal spot in front of the door, and sits. Seconds feel like hours to the pup as he grew impatient, looking from the doorknob to the cat, over and over again.

“Why do you think she’s not coming back?” Dobby stands back up, whining even louder.

Jynx stops cleaning himself and jumps down to the tiled floor next to the dog.

You know that thing she’s always holding in front of her face that’s bright and sometimes makes sounds?”

Dobby nods his head slightly with his tongue out.

“Well, she left it on the table,” Jynx slowly moves his head in the direction of the cell phone. Dobby glances in the direction of the item, but then straight back to Jynx, waiting for a more straight forward answer.

Jynx sighs. “Don’t you know what that means?”

Dobby shakes his head and quietly whines for not knowing the answer.

“Well, obviously, dog! Wherever she is going, it’s gotta be more important than that stupid thing, otherwise she would’ve taken it with her!” Jynx lays his ears back and bats a paw at the dog.

“Oooh…” Dobby sits and ponders on this for many seconds. He responds, “soo…”

The annoyed and frustrated cat, answers slowly. “Sooo, it means that she won’t be coming back!”

Dobby’s ears perk up again. “No! That cant be true– she has to come back! Who’s gonna feed us!?”

Rolling his eyes, Jynx continues to lick himself as Dobby panics.

“And play with us and curl up next to and pet us– and FEED US?!” Dobby whines louder, pacing back and forth in front of the door. Not sure how to handle this news and anxiety, he darts off into his owner’s bedroom and trifles through her shoes on the closet floor. He sniffs at all of the wonderful smells and happily picks one out; a grey flip-flop with a grey band and slightly darker gray things on it. He frolics back into the space where Jynx is and happily shreds into the shoe with all of his might and wagging tail.

Jynx witnesses what Dobby is doing, lays down, rolls over on his back and stretches his long body. “What are you doing?”

Dobby grabs the shoe by the strap and violently shakes it from side to side. “Well–” he starts, with the shoe muffling his voice, “–if she’s not coming back, I guess she won’t mind if I help myself to this thing. I’ve been eyeing it for months but she I know she’ll get mad at me if I start playing with it.” He happily uses his paws to tear off pieces.

“This is going to be hilarious,” Jynx whispers to himself while looking at Dobby upside down and purring.

Dobby stops chewing. “What’d you say?”

Jynx immediately flips back over and stands up. “Oh, nothing,” he purrs.

“What’s funny?” Dobby growls and barks at Jynx.

Jynx jumps up on the couch with his tail straight up and hisses at Dobby. Dobby continues to bark incessantly at the cat, as Jynx threatens him to stay back with his sharp claws out, ready for action.

Both of their ears suddenly pop up to a sound they are very familiar with and they freeze. Their owners key jingle. Dobby’s heart sinks, but his tail begins to wag. He then whines, and urinates a bit from looking at the shoe he just destroyed. The black cat came into his eye sight and his mood changed again.

“You liar!” Dobby chases Jynx into the bedroom while Jynx tries hard not to laugh. Jynx jumps up into another windowsill, away from the crazy canine.

“Dobby!” the owner yells as she walks through the front door, witnessing the chasing. “Leave him alone!” She paused and looked around the apartment, “Oh, there’s my phone.”

As she began to walk back out the door, she saw the shoe that Dobby destroyed and yells at him again. Her angry voice hits him like a thousand knives. Dobby slumps with his tail between his legs to the prison his owner banished him too; the backyard.

A beam of sunlight highlights an area of carpet that Jynx makes himself cozy in, just in perfect view of the backyard. 

“You’ll pay for this, cat!” Dobby barks though the thick glass. “You’ll pay for this, if it’s the last thing– ooh a squirrel!” he takes off running.

“Stupid dog…,” Jynx continues his catnap.