Sunday, June 9, 2013

Drop of Honey

Well, another round of Three Minute Fiction has passed us by.  I do enjoy submitting entries for it, and then reading all of the other entries, those that are shared, that is.  Yet again, the actual winner of the contest was not my favorite, you can read it here if you'd like.  (Just scroll down a little, the top is an interview with the judge, or someone else probably important or something.)

The ones I did like from this round: here, here, and here.  Warning: the first one is a tad... creepy.  The first and third one in that list were both finalists.

The theme for this round was "a character finds something he or she has no intention of returning".  And so, here is my submission.

Drop of Honey

We sit at our old table, by the same window overlooking the same stunted trees still struggling to grow in the shadow of tall buildings.  She looks out.  Her fingers tap absentmindedly on the table.  Neither of us needs the menu.  I study her, noting changes.  The lines in her forehead.  The way she sits now, shoulders back, spine straight.  She manages to look both older and younger than before.

“Well,” she says, and I am grateful that she has spoken first.  She bites her lip and says no more.  I fight the urge to fidget.  She hasn’t looked at me.

I nod as if by this one word she has said something wise.  “I hadn’t thought this would be so awkward.”  The words in my head echo in my ears and I realize I have said this out loud.  She looks at me.  The silence of years condenses into these few minutes.  It becomes heavy and presses on my lungs.  It is hard to breathe.

“It’s good to see you again.  I’ve been...” she is interrupted by the approach of the waiter.  I don’t recognize him.
 “Grits with brown sugar and raisins.” She tells him.  He turns to me and I toy with the idea of pretending to order something different.  Would she notice?  Does she remember?  I hesitate.  I am afraid and surprised at how important this simple task feels.  “Whole wheat pancakes with strawberries and honey, please.”  He takes my order and retreats.

We smile at each other and I feel it, everything is going to be perfect.  I have never seen her look so beautiful. We string meaningless words together into sentences, all sound and no substance.  I feel an excitement growing, an awareness that everything will go back to the way it was before she left.

I watch her mouth move as she speaks.  The flash of her tongue against her teeth mesmerizes me.  I breathe in the sound of her voice, inhaling it and storing it in my soul.  I smile to see her hands are still butterflies touching here and landing there and never still, always in motion.
“... and then I went to Guatemala, lived with an elderly couple.  They taught me...” I try to stay focused on what she is saying, but her hands and her mouth are distracting.  I lose the thread again.  “... and then I thought, ‘what am I doing here?’  That wasn’t where I needed to be, y’know?”  

Before I answer our food arrives.  The steam wafts up creating a hazy curtain between us.  I cut my pancakes, wondering if she expects me to answer her question.  What was it?  I stab a bite with my fork.  I raise it to my lips but it is hot.  I hold it awkwardly and surreptitiously blow on it.
She begins talking.  “The thing is, I had adventures and met people and did new things.  I think I finally am who I always wanted to be.”  She reaches out and grabs my arm.   “I’m saying I found... what I was looking for.  I mean, myself.  I found myself, and I think... I want to keep myself for me, for a little while.”  

She holds my arm, her eyes searching mine for a response.  I look down at my pancake, the honey slowly pooling, forming a drip on the edge of my fork.  What is she saying?  “Maybe someday, I’ll be ready.  But right now I’m afraid to give myself away, so soon... after finding myself.”  The honey has collected enough mass and slowly drops onto my plate.

6 comments:

  1. Your writing is so descriptive and flows effortlessly. These 3MF contests are really cool creative exercises. Thanks for sharing your entry. It still makes me sad, but I like how you took the required topic in an unexpected way.

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  2. I like that she is thinking and searching and that she is willing to consider a relationship in the future. Maybe they can be friends for a while. Everybody needs friends. I like the title. I like how the feeling in your story is easy for me as a reader to empathize with because you convey the feeling so well. And, I mean the feelings of both people. Good job.

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    1. I want to add that I have wondered if you wrote the phrase "the same stunted trees still struggling to grow in the shadow of tall buildings" as a hint of what she had been feeling before she found herself. Very clever.

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  3. That was sad and beautiful. :,) I don't dare try to compete with your eloquence. All I can say is that was sad and beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Fine, mature writing there, miss. Engaging. Good stuff. Stop doubting yourself. \you have a gift.

    love, Jana

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  5. What I really enjoy is how he is incredibly smitten while so amazingly clueless. I can kind of relate :) Is he young to be so distracted? I'm sure someday he'll realize listening is kind of important in these affairs of the heart.

    I love your writing.

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