The next round of ROW80 starts next week, so for this week I’m just going to share the flash fiction piece I wrote during the end of the last round. It came in at just under 1000 words(993 to be exact) and has not been polished at all.
I cared what she though, so when she dared me I knew I was in trouble. I knew she was waiting for my answer, but my mouth felt dry, and I was not sure I could force even a single word past the lump in my throat. But, with her eyes steady on mine, I knew I could not turn away and run as I would like.
“Well?” She finally asked, growing impatient with my silence. “Are you going to do it or not?”
I needed to turn away from those eyes before my resolve could weaken. But, it was as if they held me prisoner. I knew my survival depended on it though. Finally, I forced myself to turn to the counter at my back under the pretense of finding a glass for some water to wet my dry throat. I could feel the tension in the air as I took my time sipping the water. But, I did not realize she had moved closer until I set the glass in the sink and started to turn back to face her.
My breath caught in my throat as her subtle scent took over my senses, and I had to force it the rest of the way out. I knew she would not give up until she had an answer. After all, I had known her most of my life and knew just how persistent she could be once she set her mind on something.
“This isn’t right,” I finally said. “We both know it isn’t right. It would never work.”
That did not deter her as I hoped it would though. Instead a smile spread slowly across her face, and she took another step toward me. “But, you did not say you don’t want it to happen. That matters more than what everyone else thinks is wrong or won’t work.” Her skin brushed against my clothes as she braced her hands beside me on the counter. “So, I’ll ask you again. Do you want to kiss me?”
Her breath fluttered against my skin, and I had to close my eyes to force my brain to work through the fog desire tried to clog it with. “This isn’t right,” I repeated. But, oh, how I wished it were.
“Why not?” She demanded. “Whose right is it to say what is right or wrong in the matter of our hearts?”
I could not take anymore. “It’s my right,” I shouted at her, afraid I would explode if I couldn’t get her to step back. “It’s my right to decide what is right for me. And it’s not you anymore.” I could almost taste the bitterness as the words spewed out of my mouth.
I watched as she took that step back that I had wanted, but it did not ease the pressure I had felt started to build as soon as she had walked through my door. And now that the dam had burst, I could not plug it back up or kept the words and hurt from flowing out. “I waited for you,” I told her. “I waited while you went out there and figured out who your were and what you wanted your life to be. And I always hoped I would have a part in it. And I was still waiting when you finally came back home. But, you did not come to me,” I reminded her and saw the tears fill her eyes. I refused to let it move me though. “I supported everything you wanted for your life and gave you the time you needed and when I thought all that waiting had been worth it, you turned away from me. And you went into my brother’s arms instead.”
The tears spilled over now, and she started to turn from me, but not before I saw the glint of shame through the tears. When she spoke, her voice was so soft I almost did not hear her. But, her words pieced the wall I had built around my heart when it came to her. “And you can see where it got me. Alone again because the deadbeat left me with absolutely nothing when he walked out on me.”
I wanted to tell her that she had gotten everything she deserved. But, I knew my brother better than anyone. He had been the popular one, the one who excelled at everything he attempted: school, sports, business, and women. But, there had always been a dark side to him that most did not see until they got too close. I knew everything he had done to her and knew no one deserved that. “Then, why would you even want to take a chance on the other brother?” That all I had ever been, after all. I had never been known for anything I did, just who my brother was.
“Because I chose the wrong brother,” she finally said, her voice trembling with tears. “And I knew it when I did it. But you scared me with what you made me feel. I thought he was the safer choice. I was wrong, and I want the chance to make the right choice this time.”
I shook my head and turned my back to her. “It’s too late. I’ve moved on,” I lied. “It’s time you do the same. Now, please leave.”
I heard her breath catch but did not turn back to her. I could hear the tears in her voice when she whispered “good-bye” and had to hold onto the counter to keep from going to her and taking back everything I had just said. I heard her shoes click against the floor. The door opened and it swung shut a moment later, I felt like I had lost what could have been the best thing in my life. But, I knew I could not live with being someone’s second choice. I would rather be alone. And that was my choice.