Broken Dreams ~ Caroline McCoy
Why didn’t anyone stop me? Why didn’t I stop myself? But I liked it you see; the passion, the excitement, the thrill of the chase.
“I’ll not remember anyone’s name in here tonight, but I’ll remember yours,” you told me on our first meeting.
I was surprised. I was still the right side of forty but I was definitely older than you. I thought I was too old and frumpy for anyone to flirt with me in that way anymore. The flirty texts became more suggestive with each reply.
I want to play, you texted.
The last time someone had asked me to play I was ten years old and it was a game of chase. With hindsight maybe this wasn’t so different.
I was shocked and thrilled in equal measure. You made me feel alive in a way that I hadn’t felt for years. I could feel your eyes following me, burning an imprint on my soul. There was a connection between us like an invisible cord pulling us together.
Everything else faded beside the idea of you. You were a splash of bright red in a world of grey. My life wasn’t boring anymore. More to the point I wasn’t boring anymore. Someone actually thought I was attractive and sexy.
Compliments spilled like precious jewels from your silver tongue dazzling me, blinding me to the truth. I locked your words in a secret box in my heart and replayed them like music lying in bed late at night.
But I belonged to another and so did you. You told me I was over-thinking everything and no one would ever know. It would be our secret.
In Room 222 you took what you wanted without regret.
“No talking,” you said and any romantic notions I had about my knight in shining armour were dispelled in that moment.
Your hands were rough against my skin. No warmth in your touch or emotion in your eyes. You didn’t even kiss me. The tenderness I had imagined would be between us was replaced by mechanical actions. I had put you on a pedestal but now you lay broken at my feet.
When it was over I watched in quiet desperation as you dressed with clinical, efficient movements, stooping to tie up your shiny, black shoes. The muscle in your jaw quivered slightly as if you were trying to control the look of disdain that passed over your face. Who disgusted you more? Me or you?
As you left you glibly said, “Mates?”
You were gone and everything faded back to grey.
Why oh why didn’t someone stop me?
Caroline McCoy is an Irish writer struggling to indulge her passion for the written word amidst the chaos of family life!
The Produce Aisle ~ Justin W. Price
As you grab the watermelon and begin to thump, you see him squeezing a tomato. He looks different—his once long hair is now shorn and brushed, his once scruffy beard is short and shaped, his clothes fit well and he’s wearing a tie.
Wearing a tie?
Not the Jared you know. The Jared you know, the Jared you lived with for two years, used to write poems and recite them to you while wearing a tank top flecked with mustard stains and ketchup; used to get stoned, eat potato chips and wipe his greasy hands on his pants; used to dumpster dive. Remember when he found that Black Flag t-shirt on 11th and Main? He put it right on. He didn’t wash it or anything.
And now he’s wearing a tie.
You squint at him through the bright fluorescent lights, past the spritzed melons, broccoli and lettuce, glistening from the racks. It’s him. You can tell by the way he squeezes the oranges; it’s the way he used to squeeze your perky little breasts.
He loved you. It was the last thing he said as he walked out the door to buy radishes and turnips. You knew he wouldn’t come back, but didn’t know why. You waited. Every night, like a puppy for its master, but he never came back. Two years vanished like a puff of smoke, leaving only the aroma.
And now, here he is, sniffing cilantro.
C’mon. Go talk to him. Ask him why he left. Ask him where he went. Hell, ask him if he wants to go back to your place for a quickie for old times’ sake. Scream at him. Call him a son of a bitch. Walk up to him and when that glimmer of recognition reaches his eyes, tell him how much you hate him. Slap his beautiful face.
Go ask him.
He’s putting kale and onions in his cart. Ask him if he still hates cauliflower. Ask him if he still eats his salad dry. Ask him if he still makes love with his socks on. Ask him--
He doesn’t look up.
“Jared?” Louder this time.
He looks up; a brief moment of recognition crosses his face and disappears.
He looks at you with deep blue eyes. His lips don’t curl into a smile or bend into a frown. His eyes don’t sparkle or glare. “I’m sorry. You must be confused,” Jared’s voice says. A glint of light catches your eye, reflecting off the gold band on the ring finger of his left hand. “I’m sorry,” he says again.
A woman approaches. She’s blonde, blue eyed, tall, perfect. She’s the opposite of you. She sees you and cocks her head with a weird smile on her face. She looks at Jared.
You grab a bunch of kale and toss it in your cart. “My mistake. Sorry to bother you.”
Jared smiles; a smile that used to collapse your knees; a smile that used to steal your will. “No bother, miss,” he says.
As you walk away, the woman says: “Who was that, Bryan?”
And what he says next causes you to leave your cart in the store and run out the door.
“It was just a mistake. She’s nobody.
originally published by Literary Juice
Justin W. Price is the author of the poetry collection Digging to China and lives in a suburb of Portland, Oregon with his wife and two dogs.