always the fork

This piece belongs somewhere in the middle of my draft-novel-in-the-works. It also marks my initial progress for ROW80. 506 out of the targeted 500 words a day — not bad, eh? 🙂

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The sight of her caused my insides to feel all tangled, mangled…or maybe chopped up? Even after all these years I still couldn’t describe it right, this…power she had, over me. My palms started to sweat, and I put them in my pockets and fidgeted.

“Tsk.”

I’d been scared shitless that I’d respond the exact same way, and whaddya know? I really did.

Even from afar I noted the change: her gait was sure and steady, her gaze almost cold as it scanned the restaurant crowd. Then it fell on me, and I was back in high school.

I felt like someone punched my chest when I saw her break into her old, wide smile. She was waving quite wildly at me now, flailing her arms in the air and almost hitting a waiter.

How could she walk over here with such cheery composure? How could she look at me with such familiarity and affection, and yet so innocently, as if I were nothing more than a very good friend from way back? How could it be so easy for her to forget those episodes, when we had crossed that proverbial line?

For one quick instant her nakedness flashed before me. Then as immediately as it came, the vision was gone, replaced by the actual person standing in front of me, grinning from ear to ear.

“Hug!!”

I stood up and opened my arms to welcome her. She was as tiny as ever. She bear-hugged me, and I almost closed my eyes. Same perfume. Same intoxicating scent.

This was torture. And I almost didn’t want to let her go.

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Three years ago, same restaurant.

Her tone was gentle, yet firm. Almost like my mom, when she explained why I shouldn’t go running around barefoot outside the house.

“I know better now, Ed. I was…am lonely, and you’re the one person who’s always been with me. But you are not the love of my life.”

A slap on the face would’ve felt better. Yet I knew better then, too.

“Hey I know that, yeah? And I’m…it’s the same for me. I know it can’t…we’re not..And I have this entire new life to look forward to. But once in a while, I keep seeing the road ahead of me, with Ginny, then I look the other way and see another road…with you. It’s a futile exercise, I know, but…sometimes I just stare at both roads and…but yeah, you’re right.”

“I have to get through this thing, Ed, and I know I will, God will take care of me. The other night…never happening again. And hey, you gotta be firm with that road now with Gin, okay? That wedding’s the way to go for you two. You gotta do this. I know you’ll be happy. I know you love her. Don’t let my own crazy marriage pull you down and ruin this for you, too.”

———————————————————————————————————————————

I wished then that I could just take her pain away. I wanted to be the one to free her from it.

And now here she was, looking so radiant, she lit up this whole place with just that smile of hers.

I avoided meeting her eyes.

 

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