It couldn’t be him.
She’d pictured this moment a million times, a lifetime ago.
Before she was married, before she was a widow, she imagined seeing him when she was looking so amazing that she would stop him in his tracks.
She’d played it all out in her mind: she’d be at her best, traveling somewhere exotic for work, dressed to the nines. She would be tall and thin and walk with a confidence that would make him remember and maybe even regret. That was what she wanted, to make him sorry he’d ever let her go. She wanted him to see what he could have had, if only.
Yet, here she was, tired and nearly broken. She was a lifetime removed from that confident woman who once plotted revenge. Now, she was a middle aged, widowed mother of two sitting directly across a hotel bar from him. Now she had her chance. And now she didn’t want it.
He was still gorgeous, in a silver fox kind of way. She spotted him immediately as he grinned at the cute bar tender. That swagger hadn’t faded an ounce. How was it that years make men better while they slowly chip away at all the polish of women? She focused intently on the drink in front of her and prayed to God he would move along before he noticed her.
She felt him behind her before he spoke.
“I’d ask your name, but I’m sure I’d know those legs anywhere.”
Good to see his looks weren’t the only thing time hadn’t touched. He was still full of cheese ball one-liners.
“Well, Alex Miller, you still think you know just what to say to a girl, don’t you?”
“And Charlie Rose, you still don’t fall for any of it do you?”
No one was allowed to call her Charlie. It was a man’s name and as a reformed tomboy she was sensitive to anything that might draw attention to her masculine side. No one was allowed to call her Charlie.
She had always let him get away with more than most.
“So Charlie, why is it that I’m running into you miles away from where you broke my heart all those years ago?”
“I’m here for work actually and the rest, my friend, is ancient history.”
“Is it? Man, still feels fresh to me.”
Damn, why could he still say exactly what she secretly loved to hear but do it in a way that sounded completely dishonest?
“Cut the crap Alex, I’m too old for it.”
“You’ve always been too old for your own good Charlie.”
Alex sat down at the empty stool next to Charlie and began filling her in on the last 20 years of his life. He never asked a single question. Onlookers might think him rude but she knew better. He was just biding his time, wearing her defenses down with his charming stories so that when he was ready to stare directly into her soul and ask about her she’d be comfortable enough to have no choice but to answer him fully.
He wanted to know about her. He always did. In spite of his life-long desire to remain detached, he had cared about her deeply from day one. He never fully understood it, why this woman had such power over him. He didn’t understand it and she never fully recognized it. But then again, wasn’t that always the problem with them? Neither one ever seemed to know exactly where they stood.
This post is in response to a prompt for the Red Dress Club, a writers network that I recently joined. We were to “write outside our comfort zone” which made me immediately think fiction. I write what I know-always. So this time, I decided to use a little imagination and see where it took me. Please, be kind.;)
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CDG @ Move Over Mary Poppins! says
Oh, the silver fox…
And the connection that won't be broken.
She's got a universally appealing voice… we all feel frumpy and alone sometimes, even if we're not in her precise shoes.
Glad I stopped by, and glad you went for the fiction. Stepping away from the comfort zone is good!
Galit Breen says
Eek out of comfort zone looks GOOD on you! I love the characters and am way curious about their story!
Their dialogue, btw, is perfection!
I liked it. I found myself really wanting to know what happens once he stops talking and starts asking questions. And wanting to know the details of their parting so long ago. Great job!
Very intriguing story. We all have one of those "what ifs" in our past, don't we?
Cristie Ritz King, M. Ed says
Thanks Cheryl, Cathy and Nicole. It was fun, just not sure I have anymore in me! I'll try to figure out what's next for these characters.;)
Also, Cheryl, I've tried to remove C.V. a few times. Let's hope this time it works!
This was really good, Cristie! What were you so afraid of? You created a character to whom many of us could relate, maybe not the widowed part, but the feeling frumpy and running into an old flame.
BTW, you might want to get rid of comment verification. 😉
Congratulations on writing outside of your comfort zone! This was great. I thought it was a book review at first and wanted to know immediately what book it was! You might want to try your hand at fiction. I'd say you are off to a great start.
Wow, Cristie! You have me hooked! What happens next!