As I work on stretching my writing muscles and honing my skills I’ve started to take on what challenges pop up. The following is my entry into a weekly short fiction contest. The prompt for week 10 was to write a love story, or your interpretation of one. I, of course, always take a different tilt on things. This is what I came up with.
I still remember that conversation with absolute clarity. If I let myself think I could tell you just how long ago we had it, she and I, sitting on that lonesome bench on that windswept beach. It’s etched into my mind, every bit of it, ground in by the sands of dreams and time.
“Do you believe in love, Becca?” she asked. And I grunted as if struck, drawing her gaze, brow puckering with concern.
“I do,” I answered after a long moment staring into her eyes. She twisted, leaned back into the curve of my arm, against my body, a shiver wracking hers. It was not the season to be sitting on the edge of the world, the surf punishing the beach for breaking its path, the sand scouring everything at the wind’s behest.
“But?” Her fingers threaded through mine, twisted my palm over; my stomach did tumbles as she touched the fleshy base of my thumb.
“I’m too jaded to fall in love again.” My voice broke; whether at the stroke of her fingertip along love and life lines or at the memories that statement stirred, I still don’t know. “I had my try at that. I don’t think I’m capable of falling in love anymore,” I said.
She hummed in answer, continued to map the lines of my palm as if reading my fate there. “Me either,” she whispered, her words sliding into a pause in the surf’s roar. “Do you ever wish you could?” she asked. The question followed a stretch of silence filled to the brim with the white noise of wind, water and thoughts.
“Yes.” I leaned my head against hers, felt her sigh. She twisted our hands until our palms rested side by side on our thighs. Her fingers long and thin, mine shorter, contrasts of our builds evident in those small glimpses of our bodies.
“If you could fall in love, who would you fall in love with, who would you choose, I mean.” Her question sliced at my heartbeat, leaving it stumbling. I wondered, still do, at the reasoning behind her question. Some days I wish I’d asked her why.
“I wouldn’t choose,” I replied, staring out at the water. “Love should choose you. It should sweep you away, steal your breath. There shouldn’t be a moment when you stand there thinking, this, this is the person I want to fall in love with.”
This time she grunted and I twisted to look at her, finding her eyes liquid with tears. “What?” I exhaled, cupping her face in my hands, scattering the drops that fell with my thumbs. She shook her head and kissed me, lips salty against mine, seeking comfort in the defined truth of us.
“I’m broken, Becca.” Words whispered against my lips, a plea delivered on a shattered breath.
“No, baby,” I soothed, “no you’re not. It just takes time.” Reassurances, perhaps empty, perhaps not, but those I could make and did.
I took her home, took her to my bed the way I always do. Fucked her sweetly, slowly, until her voice crackled with pleasure as she cried my name. Showed her that what we shared would be enough for that day and the next, until that time arrived when love knocked on her door and took her away from me.
Which it did, because she still believed in love, and I did not. Not until she walked away and I discovered I’d believed all along.