Friday, July 26, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: For Want of a Penny (Part 2)

This is the second and final part of a short story that I started posting last week. 

Part 1  

The clock in the living room told me that if I hurried, I could still make it to work on time. Mark was standing in the kitchen, a pair of wine glasses in front of him.

“Thank you for your help,” I said. “I should really be getting to work. My boss will have my ass if I’m late again.”

“One drink?” He offered me one of the wine glasses.

I could be five minutes late, right? I accepted the glass and he filled it with red wine. I took a sip and smiled at the taste on my tongue.

“So, Ms. Amy.” Mark smiled at me and I took another sip to keep from smiling back. “You asked me if I had anyone in my life. What about you?”

“I’m not married if that’s what you’re asking.” I wrapped both hands around the glass to keep my fingers from wandering back to the ring.

“That’s a very beautiful ring.” He came around from the other side of the counter and took my hand, raising it up for a kiss. “Are you sure?”

“It was a gift. From my father.” The lies slipped easily from my tongue without giving me the chance to even think about why they were there.

“Your father had wonderful taste.” He kissed my hand again and then slipped closer, into my personal space. He sat his glass on the counter.

He hesitated for a few seconds and I knew this was my window to put a stop to everything. That I should just thank him for helping me and for the wine and leave. Nothing would have to change, it would just be one chance encounter with another person. A short flicker never to be experienced again.

The window closed. Mark kissed me. He tasted like red wine and something spicy. It started soft and slow but the moment I set my glass down beside his it changed.

The kiss was hard, bruising, and I felt my back pressing against the edge of the counter. He pulled away for a moment, gasping for breath, and my life flashed before my eyes.

My job at Barnes and Noble, the job I’d worked for years to achieve.

My boyfriend, Josh, the real giver of my ring.

Our little apartment two blocks away, where we’d moved so I could be closer to work.

The little house we’d seen last Friday and were in the process of buying.

The ring on my finger—not an engagement ring, but the closest thing that we could come to. Josh wasn’t ready for marriage but the ring came with the expectation that someday we would be.

Mark kissed me again and the spicy taste surged. It was too hot, too bruising, and I felt like I could breathe. I pushed him away.

“I’m sorry. I’m going to lose my job if I don't get going. Thank you for…everything.” I wiped my mouth, trying to remove the thoroughly kissed feel from my lips, but it wasn’t possible. My coat caught my glass of red wine as I raced for the door, sending it to the carpet with a crash.

I’d like to say that everything turned out fine in the end, but if that’s true then I guess it isn’t the end yet.

The beginning of the end began with two words—“You’re fired”—and a packed up desk. It continued at home where, after three days of horrible roiling guilt, I told Josh about Mark. He left me that night and I only saw him once, when he came back for the rest of his stuff. I gave up our apartment, moving into something smaller and much less nicer. The house went to a lovely family with a young daughter. I still drive by there sometimes and wonder if that could have been Josh and I’s daughter playing in the front yard.

My job, my boyfriend, my life was lost that day. And all for want of a penny.