A three-part short story

       The Burden Of Expectation.

Part One:  Breakfast for one
“Beauty is terror–whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”

When her navy pea coat appeared inside from the storm it brought seven drops of water with it, seven slippery barriers against anyone trying to get too close.

He counted the drips and watched each one soak in to the floor of deeply stained wood.

She stood there for a moment, adjusted the broach on her coat, suddenly placed a sodden leather bag on the floor. Her hair fell unevenly around her face, he knew then she had cut it herself. The surviving brown wisps tugged tightly behind her ears, still in hiding from the hand of an inexperienced and overzealous artist.

She shifted her weight and pushed her fringe off her face with the heel of her hand and frowned. He smiled at her then with his teeth. She looked up but not at him, her gaze somewhere he could not find.

She stared at nothing.

That pea coat had drawn him in with indifference that day. Somehow he wanted to be closer. Closer to her or further away from how he felt. He wasn’t sure.


Part Two: Lunch alone
“I did never see him.”

The days were long and the afternoons longer. I was too hot in that stupid pea coat, my mother had made me wear it since she had heard on the radio it was going to rain and she said don’t be cold out they said it’s going to rain. And it did. But that hadn’t stopped the heat seeping through trapping me like a sheepish prisoner in the wool.

I had taken my bike there by mistake, there had been too many left turns so when I could, I'd ducked right. 

Then there was the cafĂ©. 

The only place open on such a day, with it’s little battery powered lantern lights and the smell of rain on hot concrete. I was alone and I was hungry. Finding the door handle I twisted and slid inside. 

I didn’t have a lock for the bike. The lights inside were too bright.

I slipped into reverie.


Part Three: Previously arranged dinner plans
“Be wary of the burden of expectation.”

We had talked for a long while, although I couldn’t tell you what about. She talked a lot about herself, and I listened, in between counting the freckles around her eyes and nodding every sentence or so.

Do you not listen, or do you not care?

Her green gaze was sad, somehow shrunk the couple of metres between us to make it feel like we stood fractions apart. I held my breath and noticed a new freckle above her eyebrow. Her hair seemed shorter before, now it hung longer, limp around her shoulders. Intentionally untended to, light brown, lifeless.

She was beautiful.

I smiled weakly and shifted my weight. We were standing outside together now, we’d spent hours there. She had put her helmet on and taken it off quite a few times and neither of us were sure if we were ever going to move from this point.

Or both?
The meanness in her voice then startled me. I wasn’t sure.

Or both?
She repeated, this time with a tremble.

Her eyes fell from mine and I felt my lungs sink to my stomach.

Forget it.

I quickly opened and shut my mouth, lips suddenly too swollen to comfortably close.

I watched her step over the black bike frame and push off from the ground where my shoes seemed to be cemented. 

Little drips from the navy pea coat trailed in the wind, no longer burdened by expectation.


No comments:

Post a Comment