The following is part of a 20 day challenge to get into a better habit of blogging. Each day presents a new prompt. Today’s prompt: Write a post with roots in a real-world conversation. For a twist, include foreshadowing. Each post is a rough draft, so please excuse typos, flights of fancy, or hyperbole. (But feel free to leave suggestions for improvement, corrections, constructive criticism or crass remarks in the comments below.)
I almost miss the tapping on the door, buried under the sonic blast of Ryan Adam’s “Gold” playing from the stereo. I turn down the speakers, listen.
— Tap, tap, tap —
They are hesitant knocks, almost unwilling to be heard. I approach the door, knot in stomach. I pretend I don’t, but I do know who is on the other side as I put my hand on the door knob.
She stands there, black-rimmed glasses, red sweater and black skirt.
“Hi,” we sputter in unison.
“Um, come in,” I say as an after thought, standing to the side and making a grand sweeping gesture with my left arm.
The place is small. I am embarrassed. The living room is just big enough for my couch, chair, and entertainment unit. There is a built-in nook with a desk, bookcase, and space for a small table to go with the spartan kitchen area. An ancient space heater built into the wall warms this room and the tiny bedroom.
“I was in the area and thought I would come by and visit,” she says as she passes uncomfortably close. A lie. “How are you doing?”
“I am doing all right,” I say. Another lie. “How is school going?”
“I’m almost done with my research.” A bit of truth.
“Here, have a seat,” I say, as the music still plays low in the background, creating an awkward atmosphere. I turn it off.
She sits at the end of the overstuffed, olive couch, too big for its surroundings. I take the small chair next to it.
“Can I get you something to drink?” I ask. “I have water, maybe a beer.”
“No, thanks,” she says, scanning the room.
“Still living with Jill?” I say, knowing the answer.
“Yeah, she says hi.”
“How is the dog?”
“Oh, Gracie is fine,” she says with a smile, her body relaxes, settling on neutral territory. “Oh my God, the other day she tore up one of my shoes. I could have killed her.”
The last part is accompanied by the lilt of her southern draw and a giggle. Her curled jet black hair bouncing with the motion.
Something inside me stirs, tension fades. It’s all so familiar, a sense of ease and comfort.
“How are your parents?” she asks.
“Good. I’m flying home in a few weeks for a visit,” I say. “My mom is driving me nuts. She’s already trying to get me to move back to Kentucky.”
“Ha,” she says.
A slight twinge of discomfort. We dance around the landmine.
“How is your mom holding up?” I ask.
“Oh, it’s tough,” she says, the corners of her lips pulling down. “She’s dealing with the divorce the best she can. We’re really not talking to my dad.”
“Yeah,” I say, involuntarily looking away. I hold back saying I understand. “It’s shitty, what your dad did.”
I always liked her mom, and felt genuinely bad when I learned her husband cheated on her.
“Thanks,” she says. “You’re the only one out here who knows them both, who I have to talk to about it.”
She says the last part with a small smile and a shrug.
“I get it,” I say.
We sit in silence for a moment. The faint ticking of a wall clock marking the time.
“I’m glad you are doing OK,” she finally says, placing her hand on my knee.
I want to reach out, squeeze her hand, kiss her, walk her into the other room.
Instead, I stand and clear my throat.
“Here, I have a song I want you to listen to,” I say walking to the stereo.
I forward to the right CD track. I hit play.
Ryan’s guitar and voice rolls out from the speakers.
I know right then that I am the villain.
“This is a clumsy, horrible way to take revenge,” I think to myself as the music unfolds.
I can see the words hit her ears and pierce her heart. Tears well up in her eyes, she stands.
“I should go,” she says.
“OK,” I say, body clinched, holding back from saying I’m sorry, taking the song back. I need this to end.
As the door closes, I take the couple of steps to the kitchen and get a drink. I look back over the scene of my crime.
Ryan Adams continues to sing in the background.
I punish myself the rest of the night by listening to the lyrics of “Somehow, someday” on repeat.
I want to tell you something
That I should’ve, long ago
I wish that you and I had those kids
Maybe bought us that home
I wish that we were stumbling fast
Down on Irving and 14th Street
I wish that we were still in your room
In your bed and you were holding me
‘Cause there ain’t no way I’ll ever stop from lovin’ you now
There ain’t no way I’ll ever stop from lovin’ you now
No there ain’t no way and I’m gonna try and show you somehow
Somehow, and I’m gonna someday