The One That Got Away
It’s Valentine’s Day and you bump into your ex-lover whom you refer to as “The One That Got Away.” What Happens?
Will be doing this challenge from three perspectives.
Getting out of bed had become a job. The type of job that made the bones groan from the strenuous assault of stress, burdens, and dead ends. Since he moved back into his parent’s place two and a half years ago things went from a slow leak to massive flooding. Uprooting, why me, devastating flooding.
A knock at his door distracted him briefly from buttoning the last few buttons of his shirt.
“We’re leaving. Sure you don’t want to ride with your aunt Faye?” His father stood awkwardly in the doorway as if he couldn’t decide to enter or stay out of his son’s space. “That, uh, that looks good. Your mother would approve.”
Ty contorted himself to get the best view down at himself. “Yea,” he replied softly but disinterested. The soft purple dress shirt looked nice enough. Fit him better since he bulked up some. Didn’t make him like it but it was her favorite. Both of theirs ironically enough.
A silence hung between them, the men his mother left behind to fend for themselves and build a bridge to connect each other without her all knowing advice. “Guess we’ll see you there.” His father nodded, giving Ty one last chance to do more than stare pointedly at him to go away before seeing himself off.
Since his mother’s death, things in the apartment was a blur. When the blur did slow down it didn’t reveal much. His father stayed out as often as he could. Ty couldn’t blame him, not for that. Her memories were everywhere. It had been over a month and he swore he could still smell the perfume she loved to suffocate them all with. It smelt like wet dog covered with baby powder but she didn’t care. To her it was a fresh garden.
He wondered who else wore the so called perfume. Whoever was crazy enough, they couldn’t wear it with the same confidence. And when somebody who had no sense of smell complimented her on it, she lit up. The bubbliness of her lost youth shined through at those times. Nobody could tell her anything. He remembered one time when a younger nurse gave her grief on one of her fifteen hours shifts. At the time his mother hadn’t had more than three hours of sleep but one compliment from the guy at the meat section and she could put up with anything. She came home, tired as ever, but upbeat enough to tell them how the girl messed up five charts, outright refused to do the grudge work of post ops, made a child cry, and then had the nerve to question her superiors.
Ty could hear her heavy laughter as if she was sitting next to him. He propped up his elbow on the narrow edge of the car window, playing out the what if conversation in his head. “You finally got nerve?” She’d ask. “Course, Ma,” he’d start, “always got nerve.” She’d likely snort and shift in her seat before lecturing him about treating women right and how she didn’t bring up no street runner.
The cab rolled to a stop, he paid the driver, got out, and looked up at the building. “Bout time you went after that girl,” his version of his mother told him. He could hear the snarkiness of a wise woman. He knew he was imagining it, knew in a matter of an hour he’d be giving her eulogy, but it didn’t take away the extra spring he got in his step from the fake nudge. His mother always did have a soft spot for Priscilla. “There’s something ’bout that girl I like,” she told him once. “Don’t ruin it. She just might be who takes care of you when I’m gone.”
If you only knew.
Ty waited at the corner for sight of her. Thankfully the city was filled with weirdos that liked to lean up against walls. Most had on rags, dirt, and mops of hair all over but he could be different. The well offs didn’t deviate from their high gaze when they walked past the idle homeless. Not many. There was one man who eyed him suspiciously. That quickly stopped when Ty made direct eye contact.
Swiveling his focus back to the street, he cursed under his breath. The guy nearly had him miss the chance to see her again. Standing still as the bricks he was leaning up against, he told himself he was just going to watch her a little longer then go. The weight of the funeral and sorting out who gets what not to mention mourning the woman that stuck by him his whole life had been taxing. There were days he hated the world.
By chance one day he saw Priscilla. It stopped his world, the world he hated so much to be alone in. She was there rustling through her bag for one thing or another. He never got the courage to speak to her that day. Between knowing how selfish he really wanted to be and how he hurt her so badly when she walked on three summers ago, he couldn’t do it. But on the day when he needed strength, he had to see her. All he needed was to see her, one last time.
She paused to get her wallet out and he smiled. She still used the one he bought her. Maybe that was what gave him the push he needed or maybe it was thinking what did he have to lose, but he ran over waving his arm like a fool, shouting “Hey, stop! Hold that cab!” Helped he was in a suit and actually looked like he was trying to get a good cab. She never noticed though. Didn’t so much as look up, not till he did the one thing he knew would get her attention.
As he rushed past her to skid to a stop at the curb, he had purposely bumped her hard enough to incite that fiery, moralistic side of her. It took everything in him to not ruin the facade he was creating when he heard her. That was his girl. Always ready to take on the world.
“You could have held him,” he groaned out, letting his arms fall dramatically back to his side. “Didn’t you hear me?” All the yelling he did couldn’t have been that easy to ignore. Then again, it was New York and she was very good at drowning out the world.
Turn slowly. Be cool. Don’t ruin this. Looking her over, he frowned. Maybe he already did. She was unresponsive. He had basically put her in a standing coma.
“Prissy?” He risked snapping his fingers. Even went as far as doing it inches from her face. That did it. She was reflexively smacking his hand away and snapping about his nickname for her.
“Prissy and spunky,” he chuckled, loving how he could still get under her skin. “Some things just don’t change. How’s school?” Felt good to have her around again. Deny it all she wanted, she grew to like the name. Same way she grew to like going to school. When they first met, she was taking a break from it to figure out if she was the college type. Now she was looking at the place of higher education like it was her church.
“Good,” she started, “have another year.” She took her time looking back to him. Though he hated losing sight of her warm brown eyes, he was okay with looking her over. She had fallen into the skinny jeans fad. She was no twig but her thighs were just right. Gave her small hour glass figure a boost.
She asked how his life was and three answer options popped up. He could tell her everything, maybe invite her to the funeral. She was fond of his mother. Or he could skip a few things while giving her some truths. Both weren’t good enough. She’d know he was leaving out stuff and if he told her about his mother’s passing, she’d drop everything out of the kindness of her heart. So he lied.
“Got an internship. Unpaid. So, you know, have to find another cash flow.” Quick, short, to the point. He dressed the part so it wouldn’t raise any liar alarms. None she could easily pin on him.
Who he guessed was a friend of hers called out to her about class starting soon and needing her notes. The interruption broke the spell that kept her there. He could see the anxiety it was causing her to be so torn.
“I’m glad you’re doing good.” He told her truthfully.
There was more that he wanted to say. I miss you. i keep thinking about you. i need you. His heart had a lifetime of things to say if he let it. But she was already getting antsy. He freed her once, she didn’t know it, but he let her go to spare her from the turmoil in his life. His was crashing down around him just as hers was taking off. To weigh her down would have killed him more than letting her move on.
So he took her take care with a appreciative smile. He could have her believe he was good too. He wasn’t about to the rain on her day. Mother nature had that covered.
When she was a decent distance away, he jogged to the other side of the building where he originally popped up from. I did it, Ma, I got my nerve. With a final look up at the building, he whispered happy Valentine’s day and got in the cab.
Time moved on. She did, his mother did, and he had to too. First step was sending his mother off properly on her favorite day. He’d do right by her, by both of them.