Beth

by
Lance Manion

“I’ve been dreaming and I’ve been drinking and that’s led me here” I began.

When she opened the door I was surprised how much she looked like her younger self. It had been such a long time since I saw her last. I would have thought she’d be wearing glasses by now but she wasn’t.

She just stared at me.

“Let me explain. I won’t start at the beginning, since that’s the hard part, I just skip ahead to the part where I skateboarded out of your life. I was wrong.”

I was wrong. Starting at the end didn’t help explain things at all.

“I started dating you under false pretenses. Ok, I’m starting at the very beginning. Your brother broke the heart of my younger sister so I dated you to break your heart. So there’s that.”

Her eyes scrunched up a bit at that piece of information.

“I always meant to hurt you but I never actually meant to make you feel bad in the process.”

Even as the words left my mouth I knew they were too true to be believed.

“I’m sorry I slept with your friends and not you. I just never felt that way towards you.”

She slowly lifted her index finger and placed it up and down across her left to right mouth as if she was trying to figure something out.

I had rehearsed the opening line countless times and I felt it was a real winner. It was every thought after that I was having trouble with. How much honesty to include and how much fluff?

“Obviously you were an attractive girl, I just never wanted to allow myself that kind of intimacy, given that my ulterior motive was to cause you heartache.”

Her finger retreated back down to join her comrades on her hand and the whole gang of them began to lightly tap her chin. The scrunched up look in her eyes held fast and began to spread to other areas of her face.

“That’s why we never did it.”

The truth was that I was skinny and she was skinny and I never had sex with skinny girls for fear that I’d set my bedroom on fire. I always imagined it like rubbing two sticks together.

“I know you fell in head over heels in love with me and I’m sorry. After I left and never called I felt horrible about it.”

I did. She was such a nice girl and we got along so well. I wondered at the time if it was because I was keeping a certain emotional distance from her or if, through some giant cosmic coincidence, that we would have actually made a good couple. Her brother and my sister had successfully dated for awhile so maybe there was something in our genes that made us predisposed to getting along.

I was a partier and she was a stay-at-homer. She was an intellectual and I was a moron. I was fun and she was dull, but even then I felt that still waters ran deep. She wanted me to help her explore her bad side and I didn’t want that responsibility.

“So why am I here after all these years? Good question.” Heart of fire

As she was non-communicative I figured I’d better start moving towards the point of the visit.

“I’ve been having these dreams lately. Damnedest things. It took me awhile to figure out who you were but once I did the dreams began to make much less sense.”

If her brow knitted any harder a sweater and matching scarf would have popped out.

“I saw our kids in one of them.”

I stopped talking for a minute to clear my head. I could only imagine the effect my words must be having on her. A former love, maybe THE love, appearing on her doorstep talking about dreams involving what might have been … must be heart wrenching for the poor girl.

She took a small step back inside her door. Obviously she was fighting the urge to throw herself in my arms.

“I guess I just wanted you to know all this. To hear it from my mouth that all your affection wasn’t in vain. That it stayed with me through the years and, despite the fact that your love for me must have haunted you every day since I ended it so callously all those years ago, that I too carried some small part of you in my heart.”

She went to speak a few times and then stopped. Unable to find the words no doubt. Poor thing. I could only imagine the mix of feelings coursing through her.

Finally she spoke:

“And you are?”

 

About the Author:

Lance Manion is the author of four humorous short story collections; Merciful Flush, Results May Vary, The Ball Washer, and his latest, Homo sayswhaticus. He blogs daily on his website www.lancemanion.com and frequently contributes to many online fiction sites.