Received Honorable mention at All Write Now Short Fiction Contest 7-11-15
No Second Chances
I don’t understand why I’m here, with her. She’s ignoring me and nothing I say seems to get through. It’s been over two years since we’ve seen each other. Things didn’t end well.
They were never that good to begin with, but I did care about her.
My patience wears through, and I reach forward to touch her. It’s been so long, I’m eager to press my fingertips against her bare arms. But there’s nothing there.
I can see her clear as ever. She still has those hips I loved to hold onto. Her chestnut hair’s shorter now but it wraps around her impish face with a few sexy waves. It doesn’t matter, my hand doesn’t respond and panic begins to shake me.
I glance down at the hard wood floor. As I turn my gaze, I notice the typical living room furniture, a sofa sits against the wall facing a nice flat screen. It would give the place a comfortable atmosphere if I knew what the hell is going on.
How often does a man wake up in his ex-girlfriend’s apartment without a clue as to how he got there? It sounds like something from a movie, or an episode of Dateline.
I try to think back, but a shooting pain emanates from behind my eyes. My vision clouds. Why won’t my body respond?
I can’t rub my temples. Can’t reach my hands to my face. Maybe she’s gone crazy and kidnapped me. I wonder if I’ve been drugged or something.
There doesn’t seem to be anything masking my mouth, so I try to reason with her, “What the hell!”
She doesn’t respond. If I wasn’t so annoyed by whatever she’s trying to pull, I might be up for something kinky.
“Damn it Shawna, why have you brought me here?” I move forward. A churning sense of unease grips me. Somehow I can move, but it’s terrifying, like heavy turbulence on an airplane.
Despite an overwhelming bout of dizziness, I make draw closer to her and find myself surrounded by her sweet vanilla scent. It’s amazing to know she still wears the same lotion. One whiff and I’m almost ready to forgive her.
Tears dance on the edges of her cloudy grey eyes. It’s as if she wants to talk to me, but can’t. It doesn’t strike me until now, but I realize I really did love her.
Funny that I think of it here.
A muffled brushing of steps outside break the stillness. The front door jiggles, and pulls my attention away from her as a gangly man in a business suit enters. I hate the scuff of his shiny black shoes. Hate his perfectly trimmed beard.
He stops and stares our way. I’m not ready to fight a jealous boyfriend over something I didn’t do so I say, “I don’t even know how I got here man.” It’s a lame excuse, but it’s all I can think of.
He doesn’t have time to respond as she rushes into his arms. She clings to him and lets the tears flow.
I curl my lip and back away. None of this makes sense anymore.
“Hey…Shawna…what’s wrong?” He rubs her back and kisses her brow. I hate him. He’s ignoring me on purpose.
Through her sobs, she shakes her head.
He walks her over to the couch and pulls her onto his lap. “You know you can tell me anything.” I resent him for saying the right words. I never could do that with her.
She chokes back tears and takes a deep breath. “You know I love you, right Ben?”
“Seriously? Do you have to do this now?” I ask getting more uncomfortable.
This Ben guy nods with a patience I never had. I can’t keep from getting a little jealous. She automatically calms in his arms. “Remember the guy I told you about? The one I dated before you?”
“Greg?” He wrinkles his nose like my name smells bad.
“I’m right here.” I wave with sarcasm as I grow unsure of myself. I wonder if I’m dreaming.
Tears erupt from her eyes again, and I hate everything. I hate myself for sleeping around, for lying to her, for showing up drunk in front of her parents. I hate that I ever put my hands on her.
All this time I blamed her for making me crazy, but she had nothing to do with it. It was me and I know it.
Ben tilts her chin upward and lets his words come out soft, “Did you see him again? It’s okay, I…”
“No,” she cuts in with a sniff. “He’s…dead.”
“What?” I don’t want to believe it. I’m right here.
Growing frustrated I shout at her, “This doesn’t make any sense! I’m over here Shawna, look at me!”
I try to grip the vase on her end table to throw it, or smash it, anything, but I can’t. It’s exhausting. I doubt I can even piss myself if I want to. The shock of losing control of my physical functions kicks in and all I can do is absorb the scene before me.
“Dead?” Ben’s voice distracts me from my outburst. His sympathetic tones grate on my nerves. I’m sure there are at least a thousand things he can say to put me down. Hell, I would.
But he doesn’t.
“I’m sorry Shawna. I know how hard it was for you to get over him.”
These words stick with me. They run circles in my head until I feel like I could explode. The enormity of my regret becomes so great that it clings to me like a blanket of shame.
I left things unfinished. I didn’t give her the opportunity to make amends.
I never wanted to hurt her.
I’ve been telling myself she screwed up, but if I’m dead now there’s no reason left to lie. I can’t change any of it. I guess that’s why I’m here. I won’t get a second chance with her even if I want to.
Dropping back, I scrutinize this Ben guy. He seems to have his shit together. He’s giving Shawna everything I never could. As much as I want to hate him, I don’t.
She still loves me. I can see it all over her face. She’s grieving over my sorry ass, but we’ll never be together and Ben gets to play the hero. I can’t bring myself to look away as she leans against his chest and wets his dress shirt with her tears.
Maybe this is hell. Maybe I deserve to watch and know what I threw away. I wonder if I’ll live in this moment forever.
I glance at her grieved features as she pours her heart out to him, eyes all puffy. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Her cheeks are swollen, lips quivering.
But she brightens up the more his eyes stay locked on hers. There’s love there. It’s so powerful that I long for things lost, things broken.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper knowing my words won’t be heard.
Her head jerks up and snaps around. I stare at the light in her eyes, but she doesn’t seem to see me. “Did you hear that?”
“No.” Ben looks around.
As they nuzzle back into each other, I find a strange awe at my situation. I’m here, for whatever reason, maybe to watch over her. I’m glad for it.
She heard me once, it could happen again. If there’s a chance that I can help guide her, make her happy in any way possible, I’m ready to try. She tried to do the same for me back when I blew it. Now it’s my turn.
Our time is over, but I’m not done loving her.