This entry is inspired by the wonderful Ermilia blog, who never ceases to provide quality prompts and entertaining ideas.
Now that she saw him at the bar, smiling and laughing so easily amongst friends, those soft hands of his cupped around the glass, with what Marian now thought was an unparalleled tenderness, (one she’d relived on too many late nights) she suddenly felt foolish to be here.
Her stomach lurched when he turned, sending a bilious vacuum to her mouth at the thought he might catch a glimpse of her. She licked her lips but found her tongue alien, clogged in gloss.
“Whisky,” she thought. Letting go of the table to walk she wobbled, and had to steady herself. Her heart pumped embarrassingly loud in her temples; flushing her face and fishing her hands damp.
‘Why was he still so reliable? So dependable?’ she shook her head. Here, at the same haunt she’d avoided all this time. ‘Why was it so easy to track him down again?’ Gazing at him now, she could see the chasm of her creation gaping between where she stood and he laughed.
“I’m tired of this, of you,” she’d spat that night, using her eyes to pierce his heart while her words pealed away in a stem of thorns. “Can’t you just…be different, can’t we DO something different?” she had screamed, hands raised in the air and not for the first time, she watched him recoil aghast at her fury. Strangers walked around them, pretending not to see or hear, a fact he would later recount with humiliation.
Sparkling gems and diamond stones piled solidly in her youthful hands and she’d only noticed the dust they created.
She inhaled sharply and held her breath, pushing down her fears, her emergent tears, and the swelling of regrets and mistakes that threatened to convince her to flee rather than face him. She could not afford the flight.
Another breath and she forced oxygen to her desperate striding limbs and light into her false smile.
One more intake and she was there, the familiar heady cologne rioting through her body in a bittersweet rush of long kisses and warm embraces, golden in the sun and open to the sky.
“Oliver?” she said quietly, patting him on the elbow.
He turned, his smile fading to resemble a startled bird on the footpath, distended in the traffic of shuffling feet, powerless and hurt.
With every syllable in greeting she stretched her warmth and love for him out in a cloak – the fabric of her soul – that she longed to wrap him in and sooth away the past. Yet the words came out empty, unfulfilled nothings of meaningless chatter.
“How amazing to see you here,” she smiled an attempt at breeziness.
“My friends just left and I thought I spied you in the crowd. Do you have time for a drink?” She hoped that he didn’t notice her cracking voice.
“Marian,” he said in reply after a dazed pause. “Marian.” His shoulders slumped forward on the second utterance, and his eyes appeared to have trouble focusing. He shook his head a little at a thought he seemed to have and lifted those gentle fingertips to squeeze his temples and smooth down his face.
Another breath. She blustered on.
“You look wonderfully well. I heard that you’ve settled down, and married now?”