Flash Fiction Friday: Broken Love

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Photo by Esther Tuttle on Unsplash

Broken Love
by Kelly F. Barr

 

Allison placed her empty coffee cup in the sink, the bitter coffee taste still on her tongue, and returned to pace across the gray carpet in her living room, waiting for Skylar to arrive. She chewed her lower lip. How could she have been so blind? Thank God she had discovered the truth before the wedding.

The doorbell rang as she paced away from it. She turned on her heel, stomped to the oak door, and paused with a hand on the brass doorknob. She took a deep breath and released it in slow puffs. Then she opened the door and Skylar smiled, his brown eyes sparkling, before leaning in to kiss her lips.

Allison turned her head and his kiss landed on her cheek. He pulled back and searched her eyes. “Is something wrong?”

“We need to talk.”

“Can’t we do that at the restaurant? I don’t want to be late for our reservation.”

“Maybe you should cancel the reservation. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have this conversation in a public setting. You should probably come inside.”

“Allison, what’s going on?” Sklyar followed when she turned and moved back into her apartment.

She turned to face him. “I know.”

“Know what?”

“I know that you’ve been seeing someone else behind my back.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb with me Skylar. Late last night I received a text message from someone named Vivian. The text came from your phone. She told me she was with you… in your bed … that you had fallen asleep so she had taken the opportunity to inform me she wouldn’t let you go without a fight.”

Skylar pulled his phone from the pocket of his tailor-made black pants.

“I wouldn’t expect to find the text there. She probably deleted it.” Allison picked her own phone up from the living room coffee table, pulled up the text, and handed the phone to Skylar.

Skylar read the text and the color drained from his face. He met Allison’s gaze. “Babe, listen, I can explain.”

Allison held up a hand to stop him. “Don’t bother. How could you? What did you do, drop me off at my door last night, leave me with a kiss goodnight, then go pick up … Vivian?” Allison spat the last word as though it tasted vile on her tongue.

“Allison … I’m sorry. She doesn’t mean anything to me. You’re the one I love … the one I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with.”

She shook her head, her thick chocolate tresses waving side to side. “How can you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Treat someone like unwanted baggage? How can you take her to your bed, then throw her away and say she means nothing?” She lowered herself onto the edge of the overstuffed burgundy sofa. “And if she doesn’t mean anything to you, what was she doing in your bed in the first place? How long have you been sleeping with her?”

Sklyar’s eyes flashed with anger. “What did you expect me to do? I am in love with you and we have been engaged for eight months, yet you refuse to come to my bed. You insist on waiting for the wedding night!”

Allison rose from the couch and pulled the ring from her finger. She held it out to him. “I think it best that you take this and leave.” She brushed past him and moved to the door.

“Wait, what are you doing?” Skylar turned and watched her retreat.

“I think it’s obvious. I can’t marry someone I cannot trust. Someone who cannot be faithful.” She opened her apartment door.

Skylar stood rooted to the spot. “Allison, we’ve been together for nearly two years. Surely we can work this out.” He walked over and stood in front of her. He cupped the right side of her face in his hand, his touch warm and soft. “Things between us have been good.”

Trying not to cave in to her attraction to him and the musky scent of his cologne, Allison reached her left hand up, took hold of his right and removed it from her face. “Apparently not good enough. I have no doubt you’ll get over me. I’m sure Vivian will be eager to offer you comfort.” She swung her arm in an arc toward the open doorway, suggesting he exit her apartment.

Skylar gave her one last pleading look, tears pooling in his eyes. When she didn’t move, didn’t speak, he stepped through the door and Allison quickly closed it behind him.

The moment the door closed, Allison’s resolve broke and she slid to the floor and sobbed.

Flash Fiction Friday: Dream Man

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Dream Man
by Kelly F. Barr

 

Callie walked down a street in the city of Lancaster where she was vacationing. She’d never been there before but was enjoying all the city had to offer. Last night she’d attended a production of “Wuthering Heights” at the Fulton Opera House. She sat in the balcony and was completely caught up in the turbulent romance between Heathcliff and Catherine.

She turned the corner and came to an abrupt halt—her senses reeling—overcome by an incredible sense of déjà vu. Everything around her was familiar—the old brick buildings, the little patio of brick and sidewalk with café tables and chairs of dark brown with red umbrellas; the scent of spices and something fried in the air, the sunshine on her face, and the sounds of voices and a violin tickling her ears. Callie had been in this exact place so many times in her dreams but she had never thought it was a real place.

Then she saw him. At least she thought it was him. She couldn’t be sure from the back, but he had the strong, confident stance and jet black shoulder length curls. He wore the same sky blue suit coat with tan pants. When he turned, her breath caught in her throat as she looked into the same sapphire blue eyes and dark beard, just a bit more than a five o’clock shadow, on a strong jaw.

He smiled, revealing perfect dimples set deep in his cheeks. His eyes were locked with hers. “Is it really you?”

Could this really be happening or was she dreaming?

The man from her dreams took a couple long strides to stand before her. “I can’t believe you’re really here.” He reached his hand out to her.

Callie’s head spun and her knees turned to rubber. As she started to crumple, his arm slipped around her back. He held her up and guided her to the nearest café table where he deposited her in a chair before seating himself in one across from her.

Are you alright?”

Y…y…yes, I … think so. Do you know me?” She fanned herself with one hand, hoping some air would stop her head from whirling.

Only in my dreams … until this moment. I always hoped but couldn’t be sure we’d ever really meet. My name’s Chase Bryant, and you are?”

Callie … Callie Holcomb. What do you mean you only know me from your dreams?”

I’ve had a recurring dream that I meet you in this very spot.”

Callie closed her eyes and massaged her temples. “This can’t be happening.”

Are you sure you’re alright. Would you like me to get you something cold to drink?”

She opened her eyes and Chase was still sitting across from her, his sapphire blue eyes looking at her with concern. “It’s just … things like this don’t happen in real life … do they? I mean, I’ve had that same recurring dream, but…”

I know. It seems crazy, but here we are … and, I take it, you’re not married?” He raised an eyebrow.

She shook her head. “You?”

No, I’ve been waiting for you.”

Woa, just because we’ve had the same dream and now we’re here and we’re both single, doesn’t mean I’m jumping into any marriage.”

Chase chuckled. “Of course not. I just meant, I’ve suspected the dream would come true. I can’t explain why—call it premonition or gut instinct or a prophetic dream … I don’t know. I just knew that some day we would meet, and here we are. Now we can spend some time getting to know one another … uh, unless you’re already dating someone?”

His eyes searched hers and a strong desire to quell his doubts caused her to blurt out, “No, I’m not dating anyone. And … maybe we could start by getting something for lunch? I’m quite famished.”

Of course. Would you like a café experience, fine dining, or taking a tour through Central Market and making a selection which we can enjoy out here at this table?”

Well, since I’m not from around here, maybe you could make a recommendation. However, I’d just as soon leave fine dining for a dinner experience.”

His face became serious. “You’re not from around here?”

She shook her head. “I’m vacationing here. I arrived day before yesterday and will be here the rest of this week and next.”

I see.” His gaze moved from her face to his hands on the table.

Is something wrong?”

He raised his eyes to hers again. “Well that explains why it took so long for us to meet, but I’m not willing to meet you, start to get to know, then say goodbye.”

A couple moments of silence passed between them, then Chase rose from his chair, clasped Callie’s hand in his, tugged her to her feet, and offered her another smile. “Well, that’s not waste time worrying about that right now. Let’s go find lunch in the market. It’s something every tourist must experience.”

Callie spent the rest of the day with Chase, who played the role of personal tour guide. They talked and laughed together and found they had quite a bit in common.

As the sun began to sink in the sky, Chase escorted her back to her hotel. He walked her into the lobby, then stood facing her. “Go and prepare for a fine dining experience. I’ll return in exactly one hour to collect you for the evening.” His dimpled smile made her heart skip a beat.

As you wish.” She gave a theatrical curtsy and the two parted.

One hour later, Chase returned and the two of them walked a couple blocks then entered The Imperial Restaurant where they enjoyed a delicious meal and great conversation. After dinner, Chase escorted her to a sleek, blue Lincoln Town Car. He opened the door for her and closed it when she was comfortably seated. He drove to a large park, retrieved two lawn chairs from the trunk, and led her to a large open lawn facing an amphitheater. He set up the chairs and they sat down. He explained that during the summer, the amphitheater was used for free concerts. A few minutes later, Callie enjoyed listening to Latin music and dancing with Chase in a nearby area of open lawn.

When the last song faded, they returned to his car and Chase drove her to back to the hotel. This time he escorted her to the door of her room, where he faced her, holding her hands in his. “I had an amazing day. Sadly, I have to work tomorrow, but I’d like you to meet me for lunch, and I want to spend the evening with you as well.”

I’d like that.” She smiled up at him.

He took a step closer, lowered his head, and place his lips on hers. The kiss began soft and light, but deepened quickly. When it ended, Callie was breathless.

Chase remained close to her, looking into her eyes. “I feel like I’ve known you all my life … like we were made for each other. I believe I love you.”

When Callie opened her mouth to speak, Chase put a finger to her lips. “Don’t say anything. You don’t have to respond. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He gave her a light kiss, then turned and moved down the hall to the elevator.

Callie entered her hotel room, leaned her back against the door, and closed her eyes reliving the past few minutes in her mind. Could he really love her? Could she really love him so soon? It did feel as though they’d known each other a long time. They’d obviously met in their dreams over and over again. Other women had said they had found their “dream man”, but for Callie … that statement was really true.

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Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

Honey Lavender
by Kelly F. Barr

Elaina sat at a small corner table in the ice cream parlor eating her honey lavender ice cream.

“A pink shirt isn’t too bad, but I wouldn’t be wearing pink shoes to go with my pink shirt.” A young man’s voice drifted to her from a nearby table.

“Well, the way he’s showering affection on that woman leaves no question as to his masculinity.” A young woman’s voice responded, drawing Elaina’s attention to the line of customers at the counter. As she scanned the line of customers, her eyes landed on a tall, muscular, good-looking man with caramel colored skin who had his arms around a short woman with ash blond hair. He bent to place a kiss on the top of her head, but the woman paid no attention to him.

Elaina couldn’t take her eyes off the pair. How could that woman ignore the gentle, loving attention that handsome man was showering on her? Elaina’s gaze remained upon them until they received their ice cream and moved out of her line of sight.

Elaina sighed, her thoughts turning to her desire to find someone who would pay her such sweet attention. She certainly wouldn’t be so apathetic toward a man like that. Instead, she’d be basking in his attention and showing her appreciation by giving him her full attention.

She finished her ice cream, tossed the napkins in the trash and walked toward the door. As she neared the exit, her gaze swept toward tables to her right, and there, at a small table for two, sat the couple she’d been watching in the ice cream line. The woman was looking at her cell phone while the caramel skinned man ate his ice cream. His eyes met Elaina’s and she  averted her gaze and stepped through the doorway to the outside.

* * * *

The following week, Elaina turned a corner in the bookstore and collided with a tall, muscular man. She gasped and raised her eyes to the man’s face. “I’m so sorry.”

“It was completely my fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going.” A smooth as velvet voice spoke and dark brown eyes met hers. It was him–the same man she’d seen with that woman at the ice cream parlor. Then he turned the corner and was gone.

Elaina picked up the latest book by J.P. Robinson and headed for the checkout line. As she approached the line, the same man stepped from an aisle and moved in front of her. She looked around but didn’t see the short woman, who’d been with him at the ice cream parlor, anywhere. She stood staring at the cover of the book she planned to purchase.

“I see you’ve picked up In the Midst of the Flames. Have you read In the Shadow of Your Wings?” The smooth as velvet voice addressed her.

She looked into his dark brown eyes. “Yes. It kept me turning pages from the beginning to the end, and I stayed up quite late one night to finish it.”

“Then I’m sure you’ll enjoy In the Midst of the Flames. I just finished reading that one two nights ago. That’s why I’m here. I needed something else to read.” He held up a copy of Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Then stepped to the cashiers’ desk to make his purchase.

* * * * *

Three days later Elaina took a walk in the park, then sat on a bench to watch the children playing on the playground, when a shadow fell across her face.

“Mind if I sit here?”

Elaina looked up into the caramel colored face and dark brown eyes of the same man. He held out a small dish of ice cream. “Honey lavender, right?”

Elaina’s lower jaw dropped but she realized it in a fraction of a second and asked, “How did you know that?” She took the dish from him with one hand and motioned for him to have a seat on the bench with the other.

“I saw you watching me at the ice cream parlor about a week and a half ago and, even though it was at a distance, I thought it looked like you were enjoying a cone of honey lavender ice cream. Today is a bit warm so I thought you might prefer it in a dish.” He smiled and his eyes sparkled as he lifted a spoonful of honey lavender ice cream from his own dish.

“I see. Well, thank you.” She made a quick scan of the area.

“She’s not here. As a matter of fact, she’s not a part of my life anymore.”

A mild flush heated Elaina’s face as she realized he had noticed her looking for the woman who had been with him at the ice cream parlor. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. Your expression, when you spotted us at the table on your way out of the parlor that evening, opened my eyes. I saw compassion in your eyes when our eyes met and realized you understood there was a problem between Jill and me. That made me realize something needed to change.” He slipped another spoonful of ice cream into his mouth and swallowed. “I tried talking to Jill about it after you walked out, but she was too busy on her phone to pay attention. That night was the last time I saw her. She never even texted me when I didn’t call to see her again.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Again, don’t be. I’m glad I came to my senses before my relationship with Jill got too serious.” He ate a couple more spoonfuls of ice cream. “So what about you? Every time I see you, you’re alone.”

She raised her last spoonful of ice cream to her mouth and took her time savoring it as she considered her words. “I guess I just haven’t met the right guy yet.”

He held her gaze for several moments. “Would you be willing to give me a chance?”

“Yes.”

Flash Fiction Friday: The Friendship Contract Part 2

Brett knew from the moment Isabel ran away like a frightened kitten that she was the one for him.

Her fearful dark chocolate eyes pricked his heart. She’d obviously been hurt. He longed to comfort her and promise no one would ever hurt her again.

He would have to move slow to prove that he could be trusted—that he wouldn’t hurt her like those before him. That was fine with him. It would give them time to really get to know one another without the emotional complications.

He stood in Griffin Park by the water fountain watching for her.

There – the girl with chestnut hair pulled back into a pony tail, eyes darting around, hands sunk deep in her jacket pockets, shoulders raised giving her the appearance of a turtle cautiously peeking from its shell.

Her eyes connected with his. He smiled and waved.

When she was near, he took two steps and fell into stride next to her. “Good afternoon Isabel.” He pulled a tri-folded sheet of paper from his pocket and handed it to her.

She looked into his eyes, then took the paper, unfolded it and read it. Then her eyes met his again. “You really did it.”

“Of course I did. You said you wanted a contract … and now you have one.”

“Do you have a pen?”

He quirked an eyebrow at her.

“I need to add my signature. Do you have your copy with you? We should each have a copy with both our signatures … to make it official.”

“Of course.” He stifled a smile. He pulled another tri-folded sheet from his pocket, along with a pen. Things were off to a good start. He had predicted her need to make the contract “official”.

They stopped by a picnic table and she added her signature to her copy as well as to his. “You need to sign your own copy.” She looked at him, lips in a pinched line, as she handed his copy back to him.

He took the sheet and added his signature above hers, then refolded it and placed it, and the pen, back into his pocket.

They walked along the river that ran next to Griffin Park. Isabel kept her hands in her pockets. Brett’s fingers tingled with the desire to hold her hand in his. Remember, go slow. Don’t frighten her away.

They stopped to watch a couple sailboats float by on the breeze. “Have you ever been sailing, Isabel?”

She shook her head. “I … I can’t swim.”

He barely heard the words as she mumbled with her head down.

“You don’t have to know how to swim to go sailing.”

Her head whipped up and she stared at him through wide eyes.

“You can wear a life jacket. I wouldn’t let you fall overboard.”

Isabel shook her head, and they continued to walk.

They stopped at the park concession stand. Isabel ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke, and promptly pulled money from her pocket to pay for her food.

Brett forced himself not to frown, then ordered his own cheeseburger, fries, and coke, and paid for his order.

They took their food and drinks to a picnic bench and sat down.

“Isabel, do you work?”

She finished chewing her bite of cheeseburger and swallowed before answering. “Yes, I am a freelance writer.”

“So you work from your home?”

She nodded. “Do you work?” Her eyes met his as she waited for his answer.

“Yes, I am an artist, and I teach art classes in my studio.”

He watched a spark light her eyes, but just as quickly as it came, it disappeared. “Do you like art?”

She nodded but did not meet his gaze.

“Would you like to see my studio?” He held his breath as he awaited her answer.

“Maybe someday.”

He released his breath, a bit deflated. Oh well, at least it hadn’t been a “no”.

When they finished their lunch, they continued their walk around the park. Upon returning to the fountain, Isabel said, “I need to get home.”

“Isabel, I enjoyed our time together today. I hope you did too. Should we meet at Mario’s Pizza Palace next week?”

She looked up at him and he’d have sworn the corners of her lips tipped up just a bit. “Yes.”

Then she turned and walked away.

He watched her until he couldn’t see her anymore, but she never looked back at him.

* * * * *

As weeks passed and turned into months, Brett’s heart longed for the day when Isabel would finally feel secure in their relationship. When she would truly know and understand that he wouldn’t hurt her—that she could trust him.

Through the months, she did start to open up. But they were baby steps.

His heart warmed and a smile stretched his lips as he remembered the first time she’d smiled at him. Then the first time he’d heard her laugh out loud.

It was their fourth visit to Mario’s and he wanted to make her smile again. “I read your texts the moment you send them to me, and the other day I received one of your texts. I was reading it, and I walked into a pole.”

Her laughter had bubbled forth like water from a spring and he loved the sound of it.

* * * * *

Today—the one year anniversary of the day they signed their “friendship contract”–they plan to have dinner at Mario’s Pizza Palace.

Brett’s gut was in knots. One year was a milestone and Isabel had opened up to him quite a bit. Tonight he’d be picking her up and they would drive together in his car. They’d done this about half a dozen times now. He’d held her hand each time they walked through the park for the past four months, but what did it mean to her?

His nerves were on edge the moment she got in the car. She chattered about her work on the way to Mario’s, but he only half listened. He parked the car and they walked into Mario’s hand-in-hand, his heart thumping like it wanted to break out of his chest.

They took a seat in a booth near the back of the restaurant. “So, what are we having tonight?”

She looked at him with a gleam in her eyes he’d never seen before. “How about spaghetti?” She giggled.

He grinned. “Are you serious?”

“No, but I’ll never forget the look on your face as I caught you slurping a noodle the last time.”

He chuckled. “That was the first time I ever heard you laugh.”

Isabel reached her hand across the table and touched his. “You know, you really have helped me during this past year.”

“I’m glad.” He gave her fingers a gentle squeeze.

“You know, I’ve been thinking about our relationship and our contract.”

He raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything. He held his breath to hear what she would say next.

“I think it’s time for a change.”

Brett sat up, leaning harder on the table, every nerve and muscle in his body tensed.

Isabel slipped a hand beneath the table, reached into the back pocket of her jeans and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. She opened it and showed him her copy of their “friendship agreement”. She folded it again as her eyes held his gaze. Then she ripped the paper in half and in half again and again, until it was just a pile of small pieces on the table between them.

Brett’s heart pounded and his palms sweated, but his eyes were locked with hers.

“Brett, I think it’s time this relationship moved to the next step—something more than friendship.”

The breath he’d been holding burst from his mouth and he breathed normally again. “Are you sure?”

“As long as we can continue to take it one step at a time.”

Brett reached and brushed a thumb across her cheek. She clasped his hand and kissed his palm, and his heart leapt for joy. It would take a little more time, but one day he would make Isabel his wife.

Flash Fiction Friday: The Friendship Contract Part I

Isabel sat in the cafe, hands wrapped around her warm mug of tea, staring out the window at the rain. She struggled to get warm. She was chilled to the bone but supposed that was better than the numbness she’d felt for so long.

The raindrops were like the many tears she had shed. After so many failed relationships and so much heartache, she had become an empty shell.

“Would you mind if I sat here at your table?” A rich baritone voice interrupted her thoughts.

She looked up into the aqua colored eyes of a tall man with waves of black hair framing his ruggedly handsome face. Anxiety gripped her and she looked around the cafe–not an empty table anywhere. That must be why he was asking to sit at her table. She turned her eyes to his once again. “Um, yes, sure, you can sit here. I was just leaving.” She reached for her raincoat.

The man took the seat across from her. “Please, don’t leave because of me. You haven’t even finished your tea.” His eyes moved from her mug back to her face.

“It’s okay. I really wasn’t thirsty anyway.” She finished putting her arm in her raincoat, slung her purse strap over her shoulder, and picked up her umbrella. Then she strode to the cafe door and out into the rain, her heart thumping like a big bass drum in her chest.

* * *

Two days later, Isabel, arms full of books, tried to open the door to the same cafe.

“Here, let me get that for you.” A rich baritone voice spoke as an arm reached and the hand grabbed the door handle and opened it.

Isabel looked up into the same aqua eyes from two days ago and mumbled, “Thank you.”

The man smiled, revealing straight white teeth and deep dimples. “How nice to see you again. May I help you with those books?”

He reached to take the books from her arms, but Isabel turned away.

“It’s all right. I’ve got them.” She moved to put the books on a table, and after she did, she turned to move to the counter to order her tea and walked into the man with the baritone voice.

He looked at the spines on the stack of books. He murmured a couple of the titles aloud, “How to be Happy Alone; Single and Happy Life Journal; How to Overcome Loneliness”. He turned his eyes back to her, one eyebrow raised.

Heat crept up Isabel’s neck into her cheeks. She lowered her eyes and wished she could melt into the floor.

“My name’s Brett Hoover. Would you please allow me to join you at this table this afternoon?”

Isabel straightened, pulled her shoulders back, and lifted her chin. “Look, Mr. Hoover, I don’t know what it is you want, but whatever it is, I’m not interested. I just want to be left alone.” She tried to step around him.

He moved to block her escape. “Please, miss, I don’t want anything other than to share a table and some conversation … maybe help you if I can.” His tone was soft and gentle.

Isabel was at a loss for words. Help her? He wanted to help her? Just what did he think he could do? Brett didn’t move. He was waiting for a response. Isabel resigned herself to the fact that there was no way to avoid this guy. She shrugged her shoulders. He could share her table and he could talk, but that didn’t mean she had to talk.

They went to the counter and placed their orders — something a bit more substantial than just coffee and tea. Then they returned to their table, and Isabel quickly whisked the stack of books from the table and placed them on the floor by her chair.

“I’ve introduced myself, but I didn’t catch your name?”

Isabel studied him for a minute. What did he want? But all she saw in his eyes was kindness. “My name is Isabel. Isabel Tomson.”

“Well, Isabel Tomson, you seem to be lonely and unhappy. Would you like a friend?”

“A friend?” She wrinkled her brow.

Brett raised a hand. “I swear … a friend. No strings attached, and if you don’t like talking with me or meeting me in public places, you can tell me to get lost at any time.”

“Why?”

Now it was Brett’s turn to wrinkle his brow. “What do you mean, ‘why'”?

She dropped her eyes to his hands that rested on the table. No wedding ring. “So, you’re single?”

He nodded.

“Why do you want to be my friend?”

“Because you need one.”

“That’s it? Because I need one?”

Again, he nodded. “What do you say, Isabel? Will you give it a try?”

“What’s in it for you?”

“Ah, I see. You’ve been hurt. A man, or maybe more than one.”

Isabel sat back in her chair and met Brett’s gaze. “More than one. Enough men to make me distrust all men because they’re not interested unless there’s something in it for them.” She held his gaze, and her eyes challenged him.

“I am so sorry you’ve been hurt and that it has caused you such distrust in men. But my offer is real and honest. I just want to be your friend … help you learn to trust again. If you like, I’ll put the offer on paper and we can both sign it.” He smiled.

His smile was genuine. “Like a contract?” Isabel quirked an eyebrow at him.

They were interrupted momentarily, when the barista brought their food and drinks. When the barista walked away, Brett nodded. “Like a contract.”

Isabel picked up her fork and stabbed some lettuce and a cherry tomato. She raised it but before putting it into her mouth, said, “I’ll take the contract.”

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Friday: The “Block” Button Part 2

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Photo by Justin Snyder Photo on Unsplash

The “Block” Button – Part 2
by Kelly F. Barr

One week after pushing the “block” button, Theresa found that her credit card had been charged a couple thousand dollars she hadn’t spent. When she called about the charges, she wasn’t able to have them all returned, so the way she understood it, she was now responsible for $1500 she didn’t have.

She knew how those charges had occurred. It had to be him. I guess pushing the block button was the right thing to do. How could he say all those sweet, loving words and take advantage of me like this? The world seemed to have a lot more cruel people than when she was a kid, or maybe it only seemed that way because now she was an adult and more aware of people’s actions. Well, she’d gotten that credit card canceled so he wouldn’t be charging anything else.

December arrived and Theresa dreaded the coming Christmas. Christmas was supposed to be for spending time with loved ones but she was alone. All she could think about were the “what ifs”–What if he hadn’t been a scammer? What if he’d really loved her? What if he’d actually come to town to see her?

She walked through town, cold and alone, hands shoved deep into her coat pockets as couples walked by holding hands, talking, and smiling. She barely looked in the shop windows all decorated with colored lights, Christmas trees, and Santa Clauses. As she approached the steps to her apartment building, she noticed a man standing next to the stairs blowing onto his clasped hands trying to warm them. Would it be safe to enter her building or should she pass like she didn’t live there?

The wind picked up and stung her face. She’d have to chance it. She had nowhere else to go and it was too cold to keep walking. She raised her shoulders, ducking deeper into her coat, and kept her head down as she passed the man.

“Theresa?”

She stopped, turned to look up at the guy. She’d never seen him before. How did he know her name? “Who are you?”

“Roger Altland.” He stared at her, studying her face.

It was him. He was here. But she’d blocked him. “How did you find me?”

“It wasn’t difficult with today’s technology. After all, you’d told me the name of your town and state.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I miss you. You blocked me so I couldn’t contact you through email anymore, and when I went back to Facebook to find you, I couldn’t find your account.”

“I deleted it.”

“Listen, it’s cold out here. Can we go somewhere warm and talk?”

“What’s to talk about? You scammed me and now I have a $1500 credit card bill I can’t afford to pay.”

“I understand you’re hurt and angry, but could you please give me a chance?”

“I gave you your chance and you used it to stab me in the back.” She turned and started up the steps.

“Please. I know what I did was wrong and I’d like to make it right. Besides, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You were the first woman I attempted to scam with a romance scam. After you blocked me I couldn’t stop thinking about you or the things we’d said to each other. I really did develop feelings of love toward you … please … can we talk?”

She turned and looked him in the eye. “Love doesn’t stay where there is no trust.” She turned and hurried into the apartment building.

Flash Fiction Friday: The “Block” Button

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Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

The “Block” Button
by Kelly F. Barr

Theresa pushed the “block” button to block his messages and felt her heart tear in two. All her friends, and her own head, told her this was the right thing to do, but would her heart … could her heart … survive it?

Yeah, she’d heard all the warnings: “Don’t make friends with strangers on the internet”, reminiscent of the “Don’t talk to strangers” rule her parents had taught her when she was a young child. But didn’t everyone do it? Wasn’t it called socializing?

Maybe, but you weren’t supposed to lose your heart, and that is what she had done. He was so sweet; so romantic. He’d said he loved her.

Had there been red flags? Yeah, small ones at first that her heart brushed aside. Then the red flags began to occur more often—“buy a $100 Amazon gift card and send me a photo of the card and receipt”; “can I have the username and password to your credit card account”? She’d fulfilled a couple of these requests, but she wasn’t made of money.

Then he’d sent her money. So was he really a bad guy?

Theresa got scared and changed all her usernames and passwords to keep him out because of all the warnings she kept hearing in her head. Today, pushing the “block” button was her last act to shut him out. She was listening to her head while her heart shattered, leaving an incredible ache in her chest.

He’d promised he’d never let her go, said he’d fight for her.

Now she wondered, would he … could he? Would he come and find her, declare his love and propose to her as he’d promised?

Or had pushing the “block” button not only severed their connection, but also left him devastated? He had told her he had no one else but her in the world. Was that true?

Unbearable guilt and pain filled her chest. Though she had never met him face-to-face, he’d made her feel more loved than anyone else ever had.

Had pushing that “block” button protected her from someone she needed protection from, or had it shut out her knight in shining armor?