Love Will Break Your Heart

What’s wrong with the world is the romantic comedies, Aida thought.

She’d watched Moonstruck a million times. She loved when Ronnie said, “Love don’t make things nice. It breaks your heart. It ruins everything.” Because that’s what Aida thought about love. Of course, in the movie Ronnie and Loretta ended up together. It wasn’t like that in real life. Aida knew that much was true.

Gabe died on a Monday eighteen months before. He had been sick for years. And yet, Aida still thought about him all the time. In the shower, she washed her hair and had conversations with him. Shampoo. Gabe, I miss you, why’d you leave me? Rinse. Gabe’s answer: I didn’t have a choice. Conditioner. Come back to me. Rinse. Gabe’s answer: I can’t. Love will break your heart.

For a while, Aida thought she had gone crazy. And for a while, she thought maybe she was talking to herself. Then she started reading about telepathy. She and Gabe were connected by a string. String theory, she’d never learned that in college, but knew it didn’t involve talking to your dead boyfriend through your mind. Could you really have telepathy with someone who had already left the earth? Aida wasn’t so sure.

On a Friday night, she sat on her couch with a bowl of homemade popcorn, watching Moonstruck for the thousandth time.

“What I need is to break the connection,” she said aloud to her cat, Ringo, to the ghost of Gabe, and to Loretta on the T.V. screen.

In bed that night, she stared at the popcorn ceilings. She thought about how much Gabe hated those popcorn ceilings. We should smooth those down, he said. I don’t want a big project, she had said. Now his scorn of the popcorn ceilings blossomed in her heart. She thought of his face, the feel of his hands on her body, before he had left her. She imagined a silvery blue string, and she cut the string. She imagined him flying into outer space as if he were an astronaut free falling away from the spaceship, floating further and further into oblivion. As his face disappeared, she sobbed and cried herself to sleep.

She woke up looking at the popcorn ceilings, and promptly threw up, just barely making it to the bathroom in time. The scum on the toilet haunted her, but she didn’t have the energy to clean it. She crawled back into bed cocooning herself in the warmth of the comforter. Sometimes she thought she could smell Gave in the comforter still. Once she came across one of his half-eaten candy bars, hidden in the top of the kitchen cabinet, and she bit into it as if eating it could bring him back to her. That was when she first thought she was crazy.

She stayed in bed for three days, calling into work and working through delirium mixed with hysteria with a touch of vomit. On the fourth day, she woke up, showered, put on clothes, and pulled a brush through the rat’s nest that had become her hair. She drove over to the Home Depot on 51st Street and walked in. At first she didn’t know why she had driven there. It seemed as if some invisible force had led her to the Home-Do-It center.

“Hi, I’m Bryan, how can I help you?”

Bryan had sandy blonde hair, and blue eyes. He had a smile like Ronnie in Moonstruck. Aida smiled back at him.

“I need to get rid of my popcorn ceilings. Can you help me?”

“Sure, come with me.”

Aida opened her eyes and stared at the white expanse of smooth ceiling above her head. She turned over in her bed and put her arms around Bryan’s waist. He turned toward her, and he kissed her lips.

Thanks Gabe, for showing me how to wipe the slate clean, she thought, as she snuggled against Bryan and fell back into the arms of sleep.

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I Held Your Heart Once

Here’s a short story (748 words) I wrote for Chuck Wendig’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below:

I Held Your Heart Once

“I told you this was a bad idea!” he shouted.

Yeah, as if the entire idea had been mine. We sat in the house on the gray floor, my fingers almost completely numb. I wanted to shove a knife under his ribs. I plastered a faux smile on my face.

“You start the fire then.”

“Fine,” he said, grabbing the stick and the stone from me.

I studied El’s face as the light in the windows began to recede and the bitter wind howled. His cheeks were gaunt. When we’d left they’d been full of meat. Now, we both looked like shadow people; skinnier than we ever should have been. The lines of dirt on his cheekbones would have made him look like a football player if he were bigger. But now they accentuated the emaciated look of his face.

I tried to blow the blue out of my fingers.

El shouted at the stick as if it had ears.

I went to the door.

“What the fuck are you going to do, Mare?”

“Going somewhere else. I mean we’ll freeze to death in here.”

“It’s safe and it’s warm.”

“It’s not warm.”

“It’s warmer than out there.”

I looked out the window. The ferocious snow fell barricading us into this desolate place. We were stuck, and it was my bad idea that had brought us up here. I thought there’d be food, maybe canned goods. But when we opened the door a vacuous wasteland of dust greeted us. The back window had a crack letting in a constant stream of cold air and snow. No wood, except for wet, snow-bound logs sitting on the crumbling front porch. I could feel El’s hostility aimed at me like an arrow.

“I mean who the fuck goes up the mountain. We should have been going down.”

My heart felt like a worn stone in my chest. I stood by the door, not opening it, with my back to him. He struck the rock against the stick. Heat remained aloof. There was friction in the air but not enough to start a fire.

“My hands are numb,” I said. I turned toward him.

He put the rock and stick down and looked at me. I could see his old face hidden in his new one. The old face I’d fallen in love with. His eyes which had looked cold softened and his face crinkled into a smile. His smile warmed me up, and I felt the once familiar spark. The one that had been missing for awhile now, the one that reminded me that I’d held his heart once.

“Come here.”

I stood still.

He stood up and walked toward me, measured steps through the dust of the room. He pulled my shirt off before I could say no. His hands on my breast warmed me up. Body heat, the natural generator. He took off his shirt and grabbed my hands. He warmed them with his, rubbing them together like the stick and the stone. He placed my hands on his chest.

He slid down my pants then pulled down his. I shivered, and he wrapped his arms around me. We were like two unlit pieces of coal trying to catch an elusive spark. I felt him enter me and shivered again. We had not made love in ages.

“I don’t have a condom.”

“It’s okay.” It wasn’t.

Our bodies moved together filling the cabin with warmth. I imagined soft lights. I imagined a rope bed with a soft mattress, blankets covering us. I imagined the smell of chicken cooking in the oven. I imagined our children.

When I blinked, I felt his hip bone against my inner thigh. I’d never felt his hip bone before. The barrenness of the cabin stole my fantasy. He moaned and I squeezed my arms around him trying to find the heat in what should have been passion. I didn’t want the fantasy of what we once had to end. But he pushed hard, climaxed, and rolled off of me. The frigid air pierced my sweat-smothered skin. El sat with his back to me and took up the stone and stick again.

I had been wrong to come here. He’d held my heart once but it has since shattered like an icicle.

A sudden spark rose from the stick. El lit the wood then turned to look at me with fire in his eyes.

The smoke was blue and grey and smelled like a promise.

Snow Mountain

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Party Over

This is another Flash Fiction piece for Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds. The theme of this story is, “Why is it so hard to accept the party is over?”

Party Over (997 words)

ping pong

Solo cups littered the ping pong table. Spilt beer stained the green ping pong court. A ball sat still in a puddle of Bud Lite or worse, PBR. Bodies littered the floor, some of them snoring, cuddled together as if they had just dropped down where they had been standing. Holly sat with her back against the wall. Her eyes wanted to roll up into her head. She had won, or was it lost, at Beer Pong. Either way, a lot of cheap beer had gone down her throat and now the room moved beneath her feet.

Dan stumbled into the room. He slid down the wall next to Holly, his shirt catching halfway up and revealing his left hip bone and ab muscles. He tugged at the shirt, trying to pull it down, as he sat down next to her. Holly felt electricity filter through her body and a longing to put her hands all over Dan’s body. But Dan was just a friend. Just a friend, she reminded herself. Hands off.

Dan leaned into Holly and nestled his head on her shoulder. She leaned into him, feeling her heart beat faster. She wanted to grab his hand and squeeze it.

“I drank too much.” Dan slurred all the words.

“Is there any beer left?”

“It’s 2 in the morning.”

She looked at Dan. Brown wavy hair had fallen forward in front of his eyes. He struggled to keep them open. She knew he would pass out if she didn’t talk to him.

“Maybe I should go.”

“Don’t go,” Dan muttered, pushing his body closer to hers.

“The party’s over.”

“Nooooo.” He drew the “o” out so long then crumpled into a laugh.

“Where have you been?”

Dan pulled his head off of her and sat up straight against the white wall behind him. His green eyes opened widely as if he were suddenly the soberest person on earth. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an empty Trojan wrapper. He placed it in Holly’s hand. A grin grew on his face and then he laughed again, as if this were a personal joke between the two of them.

Holly slumped further down on the wall. She felt a lump in her throat liked she swallowed a tortilla chip the wrong way. She wanted to tell Dan how she felt. She’d wanted for so long to say, “Why don’t you see me? I’m right here waiting for you.” But she couldn’t. It was never the right time.

She thought she would tell him tonight. She thought she would come to this party, have a few drinks, then sit down with him and say, “Look. I’m in love with you.”

But it didn’t happen. First, her best friend Lindsey showed up. They had a beer, then two, then a glass of wine. Lindsey dragged her to the middle of the party to meet some guy who had acne scars on his face. What’s his face? Michael? Or Bill? Something like that. Holly couldn’t remember, yet she spent at least an hour talking to him about his trip to Borneo last spring and all the intricate details of his life. When Dan showed up, Holly had her head close to Michael/Bill, with one hand on his bicep. She saw Dan flit his eyes at her and then walk away. Why should she care anyway? They were just friends.

And so when beer pong started up, Dan joined her and they joked and kidded around for awhile, but the next thing she knew it was 2 AM and she was drunk as hell. And she hadn’t said a damn thing to Dan. Well no fucking wonder. He was off screwing another chick this whole time. She fucking hated him for that. And now she felt like she could cry.

Holly tried to stand up.

“Wait, where are you going?” Except Dan’s drunken words made it sound like, “Late, where you glowing?”

“I need to go.”

Dan reached his arm up and tried to pull Holly back down onto the floor with him.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Holly now stood in a crouch against the wall as if she were in an exercise class working on her hamstrings. The room seemed to spin around her, the ping pong table askew. She felt bile rise in the back of her throat and felt like she might throw up.

“What are you sorry about?”

“Getting drunk.”

“It was a party. That’s what people do.”

“I’m sorry, Holly,” only it sounded like, “I’m slorry, Horry.”

Dan’s slurs were getting worse, and Holly simultaneously wanted to run away and throw her arms around him. Instead, she sat back down on the floor with him.

“You have nothing to be sorry about,” Holly said.

She laid her head on his shoulder this time. He reached up and ran his hands through her golden-blonde hair.

I love you, Dan. The voice inside her head tried to goad her into saying it, but she pushed the words aside. They had both been partying and were drunk beyond all belief. He wouldn’t even remember it if she told him how she felt now.

How many more hours or days could she live this lie? Holly didn’t know. At the beginning of the night, she had felt so much promise. It would be like a romantic movie. She’d tell him, he’d throw his arms around her, and profess his undying love too. But life never played out that way. She’d wanted to tell him for the last year that she was sick of being his friend. She wanted more for their relationship, but there was something, some little part of her holding her back and she didn’t know why.

She closed her eyes, and she wished for the party to be over. The room spun out of control in the blackness of her mind. She leaned over and green colored vomit gushed from her mouth all over the hardwood floors. She wiped her mouth and knew tomorrow would be exactly the same as today.

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Finished

I wrote this for Terribleminds again. But I did have an agenda having to do with the Orlando shooting. Originally, I was just going to post this as a reconciliation story. In fact, I’d written something completely different. But in the light of what happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, I wanted to humanize the tragedy. I think so often, we aren’t able to see the human component of death and tragedy, because we are so desensitized by the media and the violence we see on television.


Finished – 836 words

Pounding. Like my head. I twist around in the sweaty sheets and stare at the numbers on the clock: 3:00 AM. The pounding continues. I try to grasp my bearings. I have no idea where I am. I switch on the light to see the impersonalization of a lonely hotel room.

Feet on soft carpet, but all I can think of is the grime of others feet before me. I realize when I’m almost to the door I’m completely naked. I turn around and walk over the sea of germs to the bed, pulling the sheet off and wrapping it around me like a toga.

When I get back to the door I look through the peep hole, but I can’t see anything. There’s something wrong with it—a little crack in the glass maybe—and so I open the door. And he’s standing there. I put my hands up to stop him from coming in but he stumbles forward, pushing back with both of his hands into my chest. I’m scared but it’s a silly feeling because I know he’s not going to hurt me.

He sinks on to the bed like it’s a sponge and puts his face into his hands. And he sobs. Giant ragged cries and inhuman noises escape his throat. They are noises no one should have to hear. And in a stunned moment I drop the sheet, standing naked in the middle of the hotel room with the door wide open. I slam it shut and gather the sheet bunching it up ineffectively under one of my arms so one breast is still visible, but I do not care.

As I cross the hotel room to him, I feel like I’m traveling a million miles and still unsure whether I’ll reach him. His sobs are becoming louder, and I feel a pit of sorrow lodge in my stomach even though I don’t know what’s wrong. I drop to my feet in front of him, placing my hands on the rough fabric of his jeans. His arms wrap around me and he leans his head down onto my shoulder. I can feel the ocean of his tears swimming down my back as his breaths become less jagged.

Finally he takes a deep breath and sits up straight. His hair falls in front of his eyes, and he pushes it back the way he always does with two fingers. I pull back and away from him and feel vulnerable and exposed, sitting naked in front of him.

“How’d you find me?” I ask. “And 3 in the morning?”

“One of your friends told me where you were,” he says.

“Lowell—”

“Shh.” His fingers are on my lips. Soft and inviting.

I hadn’t seen him in a month. Walked out. And as far as I knew he’d gone on with his life. The tears seemed too little too late. He wraps his arms around me again. I feel comfortable in his arms. Our bodies fit together as cliché as it sounds. I was never one of those people who believe in that hokey nonsense of we complete each other or soulmates.

When Lowell and I were together we laughed at each other’s jokes even when they weren’t funny. We didn’t resent each other. We argued and fought and found solutions. And I thought everything was as perfect as it could be for two tragically flawed human beings in love. But I’d been wrong. Because things fall apart. And our relationship began to unravel like an old quilt. One day, I left. I changed my number and walked out. I stayed with my friend for a few weeks. And about a week ago, I convinced my boss to put me up in temporary housing at an extended stay. After all, the reason I live in Orlando is for my job. I would have never moved here if it weren’t for Disney.

Lowell’s fingers slide into my hair. His lips are pressing against my forehead. And we kiss. He undresses and we make love with our bodies wrapped together and entwined like we have never been broken apart. Afterwards, we stare at each other. The soft pads of his fingertips trace the lines on my cheeks as if he is memorizing every part of my face. He starts crying too feeling lost and alone in his arms.

“The shooting last night,” Lowell begins. He seems to choke on the words. “Luis was there. Dad called me and told me today he couldn’t get a hold of him. He asked me to go by his apartment and check on him. He wasn’t there.”

My world sinks. It becomes dark. The hotel room looks concave. I want to faint. Lowell grabs my hands and pulls me closer to him. Skin on skin. Warmth. Love. We hold each other. The tears travel down my face.

“And he’s in the hospital?” I can hear the false lilt of hope in my voice.

“He’s not answering his phone.”

The world as I knew it crumbles into little pieces and breaks apart. I feel like I’m floating. Lowell pulls me closer and the ugly sobs of earlier return. We hold each other, and I try to comfort him. But I can’t.


How do you comfort someone who loses a loved one to a hate crime? There are ways to fix this problem, but we as Americans have to take action. We have to say no to the people who won’t compromise. Does the American public really need access to AK-47s and other assault weapons? The answer is no. Having fair gun control is not banning all guns. It doesn’t even affect your 2nd Amendment right. It simply makes it harder for people to gain access to guns they can use to exercise hate and small mindedness. These types of guns were created for the military, not for civilian use.

Unfortunately, the Orlando shooting has divided a lot of people instead of uniting us. But our brothers and sisters in the LBGTQ community have been affected. We need to use this as a reminder to teach our children that hate is wrong. We need to teach them love and acceptance. In the light of this shooting, it’s hard for me to understand how people are attacking Muslims. This spreads more hate against a minority group of people within our country. Not all Muslims are radicalized terrorists. In fact, the majority of them aren’t. When are we going to learn that judging others by the color of their skin, their race, their gender, and their religious beliefs is simply not productive?  If you think that way then you might want to look in the mirror, because studies shows white extremists have killed more people in the U.S. than Jidhadists since 9/11. The only thing you’re doing by spreading that false information is creating more hate, which leads to more crime and violence. Don’t we want a world in which our children can grow up safe and accepted? It’s time to stop the blame and create a solution. Enough is enough.


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Love, Not Hate

Enough Gun Violence

I debated blogging about Orlando. More because I couldn’t face having to blog about another senseless tragedy yet again. My children are growing up in a world where anyone can purchase guns with the intent of committing mass murder. Nothing is stopping them from doing this. They’re able to get a hold of guns easily. They’re able to take innocent human lives. The brothers, sisters, sons, daughters of someone.

The news media is blaming ISIS. An American who had been twice-investigated by the FBI purchased two guns to commit this horrible hate crime. He pledged allegiance to ISIS. But if he hadn’t have been able to purchase those guns in the first place, because of a background check then the violence on this scale would never have happened.  The US lacks a system that can stop the scale of gun-related violence and death. In 2015, 12,942 people were killed in gun homicide (*Statistic from The Trace).  We need gun control reform, pure and simple. And while that’s a hot issue, it needs to be addressed. Innocent people will keep being killed if there aren’t reforms put into place to monitor who guns are sold to and what types of guns are sold. Why do assault weapons need to be sold to the general public when their whole intention is to kill other human beings? Americans throw up their hands and mourn, but we fail to do anything to fix the problem.

I can tell you that hate is never going to be eradicated. Terrorists are never going to cease to exist. They’ve existed from the beginning of time. It’s human nature to fight, be aggressive, and to hate. The way to get to the route of this problem is to institute a fair system for purchasing guns. I’m all for hunting rifles. And yes, there will still be accidents and killings with hunting rifles, but I can tell you if guns are harder to get the level of mass shootings that take place will drop dramatically.

I have a lot of friends who are part of the LGBTQ community. And I can tell you, their hearts are breaking. I’m not gay, but I can’t even imagine having to live with the level of discrimination they receive every day. Some people defend their discrimination as Christian, but do you think Jesus Christ would really be happy with you spreading hate instead of acceptance?

Religion Hate

I know this post is rambling and not cohesive, but I’m just so mad. The LGBTQ community has fought so hard for legislation to become accepted in this country. I’m hoping this coward’s action will solidify the love for the LGBTQ community instead of spur more hate. I’m hoping it will spur gun reform, but I know that’s not realistic because of all the money the NRA has in politicians’ hands.

As a regular citizen, we’re capable of doing a few things:

  • Show outrage that people were killed.
  • Vote in politicians who want gun control reform.
  • Write to your senators, or anyone in politics who might listen.
  • Throw Your Support Behind Gun Control
  • Teach your children to be accepting of people, even if they’re different from you.
  • Hate starts at home. Treat your children and others the way you’d want to be treated to eliminate hate.
  • Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Think about how you’d feel if you were always called derogatory names, targeted for hate crimes, and excluded from churches based on who you loved.

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School Girl Crush

Yesterday, I wrote a scene for a work in progress about a childhood crush. In this yet-to-be-named novel I’m writing, the man had a childhood crush on a girl who spent the summers with him in Cape Cod. At a certain point, she never comes back. He spends his life tracking her down, and then stalking her until they meet again under strange circumstances on the METRO in Washington D.C. This scene had me thinking about my own crushes through my lifetime.

When I turned 12, which was a lifetime ago, my dad decided he wanted us to have family time by learning how to SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Yes, I had a privileged youth. I remember the nights we spent in the pool, learning how to breathe underwater. I also remember the book I was handed to study up on SCUBA, because all SCUBA divers have to pass a written test, even the twelve year olds.

Lauren SCUBA

That book with its blue cover sat by my bedside as I simultaneously thought of boys and played with Barbies. I had entered that time in my life where my body was changing and I was going through puberty, but I still loved my dolls. I straddled the line between childhood and adulthood, not sure where I belonged yet. As an aside, I also wore a heck of a lot of Laura Ashley jumpers. Twelve year olds today do not dress the way we did in the early 1990’s that’s for sure.

When the test day came I stared at the problems, and they looked like gobbly-gook. In all truth, I think there was a whole lot of Algebra. Math wasn’t my forte, and I hadn’t even started Algebra yet. (Now they seem to start it in Kindergarten, but then they didn’t).

And so, Phil, a tall, buff, blonde dive-pro at the shop sat next to me and gave me hints. He knew I knew the rules and how to dive. He just needed to give me a little bit of encouragement, so I could pass. And pass I did, with his help.

I’m sure dive-pro Phil knew I was in love with him. I made it blatantly obvious. I followed him around like a puppy-dog. I asked for him to be my dive partner on numerous occasions. I thought, me, a twelve year old child had a chance with this grown-up twenty-five year old man.

And Phil, knowing I was a child, dealt with it in such a nice way. He was kind. He didn’t blow me off. He never belittled me or was condescending. I’ll never forget, on one of our dive trips—I can’t remember if this was in Florida or in the Cayman’s—my mom burst her eardrum. I wanted to go back out in the water, because I was looking for sand dollars. So Phil went out with me, and he dragged his knife through the sand so we could find our way back to the boat, and took me out to a whole colony of sand dollars. This meant so much to my twelve-year old heart. He dealt with my school-girl crush with such grace, but he also gave me no allusions that he reciprocated (thank God—I was just a child).

Now I’m a grown-up, and I know the crush on dive-pro Phil was an adolescent awakening to the world of love and romance for me. It’s funny thinking back on those days and remembering how young and naïve I was. I had many more crushes after that, and I’m sure people had crushes on me. That’s just the way it goes. But the thing that makes crushes feel so poignant is the impossibility involved that doesn’t exist in a loving relationship. A crush is just that, a crush, and if it never moves forward it wanes and dies and both parties move on with their lives.

I don’t remember how I felt when I heard dive-pro Phil was getting married. I remember thinking it was logical, because he was an adult. But being only twelve or thirteen years old, it didn’t hit me the same way as other crushes who rejected me, who went on to get married, who left me when I felt like I needed them the most, or who moved on when they should have for the benefit of us both.

The thing about crushes, as illustrated in this story, is that they can teach you about love. Dive-pro Phil looked at me as a child, someone he could help teach to dive. He mentored me, and taught me about kindness, which is such a huge aspect of love. And he did it in a way that was appropriate, even knowing that I had a school-girl crush on him. I’ve learned a lot from all the crushes I’ve had, because pain also brings insight. I moved on and I learned how to apply that knowledge to my relationships, and now to my marriage.

Interestingly enough, another Phil came along when I was in college, and I thought I loved him so much. I put him on a pedestal, and I didn’t walk away even when he hurt me. I didn’t walk away even when I started hurting him. He was my best friend, my confidante, but the truth is a relationship wouldn’t have worked between us because we didn’t know how to communicate our deepest feelings with one another. It made the time we had together thrilling and fun, but it also made it hurtful, confusing, and frustrating. It took me a long time to move on from Phil2, and my relationship with my now-husband suffered because of my grief associated with losing my friendship with Phil2 and the possibility of what could have been between us. Once I processed all those heavy emotions, my relationship with my husband grew.

Crushes crush. They’re intense, yes, but they’re meant to end. Relationships bring a whole new level of love to your life, one that grows and changes with time. A crush is fleeting and not meant to last forever, but a lesson for how to love in your true and meaningful relationships.

Who was your first crush?

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Bullseye

First off, I want to apologize for being missing in action this week. This is the first Flash Fiction challenge I’ve participated in this week, because on Monday I had somewhat of a medical emergency.Today is the first day I feel more like a human again, instead of just a crumpled ball of pain. I looked at a computer screen to watch television all week, because reading and writing simply weren’t possible. I missed the actual art of writing. I missed participating in the flash contestst, but I knew on the pain medication whatever I wrote wouldn’t be comprehendable. And plus, most of the week the pain medication didn’t actually help with the pain. But now I’m on the mend and actually going to function and go about my normal day today, and as such, I’m participating in Flash!Friday.

The setting: parking lot. The picture: Night archer. Once again, trying not to go dark, I end up going with love. So check out my Flash!Friday piece for today. And go easy on me, it’s the first thing I’ve written in 5 days!

Bullseye
@laurenegreene
202 words
We left work every night at the same time and would stand next to each other in the parking lot, under the flickering streetlights, talking about anything but our feelings.

That night, Mitchell had called in sick. When I asked our boss, he just shook his head and said he didn’t know why. Fumbling with my keys, I dropped them on the white line of the parking space, and when I looked up a vague image was sitting in the distance.

“Who’s there?” I called out into the darkness of the night. The lights were more off than on that night.

No answer. I tiptoed across the parking lot, and on his knees with his hands up sat Mitchell. Arrows were sticking out of a sheath attached to his back. He wore all black, blending in completely with his surroundings. My heart beat loud enough for him to hear, as I drew closer to him, facing my trepidation.

“Relax,” he said, as he turned his eyes to me. “I had an archery competition today. No time to change. But I had to come straight away, because when I looked at the bullseye, Madison, I saw your face. How about dinner tomorrow night?”