On Writing, Tech, and Other Loquacities

The collected works of Lana Brindley: writer, speaker, blogger

Unrequited Love

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He sat in the car. Waiting. Just waiting. His gazed rested on the vista outside of the car, but he didn’t see it. His mind was a blank page. He was just waiting. Shallow little breaths, barely enough to fog in the cold air. Waiting.
Inside, a war. One woman sat in a kitchen chair in the middle of the room. The other, circling slowly as she spoke. The tone was low, but emotions were high as daggers were thrown, parried, sent back, and thrown yet again. The questions, always more questions. The seated woman was tired, but her accuser showed no signs of weariness. Eventually, she stood and with some well chosen words, left the room.
She left the building, stepped onto the street. Watching her feet as she walked along the icy footpath. She didn’t notice the waiting man as she crossed the street. Had she seen him waiting there, perhaps she would have stopped to discuss the argument. But perhaps she wouldn’t have.
Alone now, the other woman sat in the chair so recently occupied. She put her head in her hands and began to weep.
The waiting was over. Now the time to think had begun. He turned the car stereo up so he could hear it. Cool jazz washed over him, completely failing to ease his mind.
Crying without an audience was difficult to maintain. Before long she started to feel foolish. She got up to wash her face. Fixed a drink. Returned to the chair. She sat staring out of the window. The snow had started, flakes sticking prettily to the window. She wondered how long before he would arrive. Come and tell her his lies about love, and trust, and betrayal.
Following her own puffs of breath home through the icy streets, her footsteps lost in the noise spilling from the restaurants she passed, she considered her position. She came to a conclusion that would surprise those who knew her. It didn’t surprise her perhaps as much as it should have.
He had made his decision. He stepped out of the car. Reached back in for his coat, the weight of it uncomfortably noticeable as he shrugged it on. He hesitated only slightly at the entrance to the building. Then pushed the door open and went upstairs.
A noise behind her. She didn’t turn. She watched the snow beat against the window. A key in the lock, the snicker of the door against the jamb. Sludge now, the pretty flakes melted. Footsteps, and a gust of cold air from the hallway. The ice slithered down the glass, obscuring the world outside. She turned to see what prettily packaged falsehoods he had for her.
She didn’t go straight home. Instead, she stopped in a cafe next door. Nearly deserted at this late hour, but pleasantly warm. The waiter asked her in a quiet voice if she wanted her regular order, and she nodded assent. She found a table in the back, and smiled to herself. She was going to be alright. It was a good plan.
It was quick. And almost silent. She gasped. Not just an exhalation, but surprise, confusion and, eventually, realisation. She fell gracefully, her skirt billowing around her knees as she dropped. A rose spread dramatically in the carpet beneath her body. He didn’t stay.
Sipping her coffee in the trendy cafe. The snow beat against the plate glass window. She wasn’t surprised to see his car drive past, pulling up just out of her sight. It would take him a little time, but she knew he would turn up at the cafe. She waited.
He knocked at the door. He was nervous. His jacket hung better without the gun. It made him more aware of the little box. And the little box made him more nervous than the gun had. He waited for her to answer the door. He had no key to this building.
The coffee was gritty dregs in the bottom of the cup. Cold now. She waited for him to arrive. Practising her words.
She wasn’t home. Knowing her habits, he turned to the left, walked the few steps to the coffee shop. He stepped into the warm space, and the waiter looked up, expectant. He shook his head, pointed to the only occupied table at the back, indicated that he was just meeting someone. The waiter went back to cleaning the coffee machine.
She looked up, gave a tiny smile, but didn’t speak.
He pulled the little box from his pocket. Held it uncomfortably, then, like a child offering a bunch of dandelions, proffered it. He knelt awkwardly, and asked her to be his bride.
Her smile twisted into a frown. Now it was her turn to ask questions. He answered them, but left the gun out of the story. She frowned some more. The little box lay unopened on the table. They both ignored it.
Before too long he left the cafe. Alone. Like a leaf, loosed from the bounds of the tree, at the whim of the wind and the snow.

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