Elephant's Child has provided another tempting writing prompt and I'm biting again ;)
The prompts are:
A little of what you fancy does you good
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
"Twelve ounce Americano."
Lindsey spun toward the barista with a shiny smile and cheerful gratitude only to find herself startled by the peripheral image of a man standing in line. He wore heavy multipurpose boots a tad too utilitarian for his casual jeans and tidy zip-up sweatshirt, he was taller than average but proportionally so with broad shoulders. The glimpse set her ablaze.
Panic robbed her of breath as muscle groups tightened from her toes up to her neck; each wrenching knot of flesh clanging like a bell, an ancient alarm system bringing her body to alert. Her heart pounded, the hubbub of the cafe faded from her ears, the tiny blonde hairs at the nape of neck quivered as she felt a chill creep past the collar of her sweater.
Six years since they last spoke or saw one another, maybe two since she had stopped watching for him at every store, stoplight, and cafe in town. How many times had she thought she'd seen him? How many times had she gasped for breath, fought back tears, calmed her throbbing heart for a fake? Today was no doppelganger.
Tears trembled at the edges of her lower eyelids as she shied away. She struggled to suck down breaths deep enough to calm her heart without choking on spit and erupting into a conspicuous coughing fit. Her hands shook as she forced her gaze to the small counter before her, a spill of thin red straws, random bursts of sugar crystals from the inglorious efforts of the addicted. She gingerly removed the plastic lid of her molten Americano and focused on aiming the spout of an ungainly carafe of half-and-half over the steaming black abyss.
They had met in a cafe. He came late to the study party, catching her eyes as he settled into the circle of debating juniors and seniors. When their eyes met she knew at once what the romance writers meant by "electricity." The dense feeling in her chest wasn't quite a thunderbolt, but a heavy premonition. It was the type of chemical and physical reaction to another person best kept to the pages of romance novels. If only she had known the toxic capacity of such attraction, if only they had walked away after those first torrid weeks. Instead the relationship was carried on, battered and bruised and thrashed into existence until she was poisoned.
She had never been as lonely as when she was living with him. The sex was one thing, everything else was another. He was a man with whom you take to bed, not share a bed. If only she'd known. He was manipulative and controlling, subtly violent and undermining. He would skip hellos and step confidently into deep kisses and foreplay but misfired when it came to emotional needs. She had been well sexed but otherwise left barren and starving for emotional nourishment, it was never meant to be a long term relationship.
After a therapist dropped the word abusive her perspective shifted; she wanted out. The breakup had been more than messy, it had been shameful. She remembered moving out, the long talks, the sex they knew they shouldn't have, and both of their tears. He thought that he loved her. He brought flowers. She knew better. One night, instead of calling to see if she was willing, he called and he said he was in a new relationship.
It was finally over, yet something new began to grow from the discarded husk of the relationship; this fear of seeing him again. Irrational and powerful it followed her everywhere. She was not sure what the fear was. Was she afraid of confrontation? Rejection? Seeing him happy? Seeing him unhappy? A resurrection of the chemical confluence that hijacked their lives?
Don't look, don't look, don't look. The desperate thoughts pleaded within her, connecting with some internal superstition, a dark cousin of karma, anything but a prayer, just something to help swing the odds in her favor of avoiding him. Put the lid on the coffee, turn and walk, he'll never know you were here. Her body urged her to avoid him, her mind tumbling memories and fearful projections as she picked up her coffee and made for the door.
I kinda turned the prompts on their heads but this is where my mind went: better to have moderation and sometimes absence make the heart grow fearful.
Once again, I'm letting "good enough" be and just getting it out there so please pardon my drafting :)