Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Short Story: Return

Didn't feel much like writing today, but I got my story done. Eventually.

Sometimes all you can do is show up. Even if you don't feel like it.

Return


“Hi.”

His voice was quiet, tentative. Familiar.

I looked up from the cupcakes I was decorating and my gaze met a pair of blue eyes I knew so well.

“I came back,” he said. “Took me a while to find you, but you named this place what you always said you would so…” he trailed off with a shrug.

Words wouldn’t come to me. He looked good, in his scruffy t shirt and jeans. His hair was longer than I remembered, and there was a soft growth of beard on his chin.

My heart ached, but I remembered the hurt in my chest the day he’d walked away. For good, I’d thought.

“I can see that,” I said, and I tried to keep my voice level. Tried to keep the blame and anger inside. He flinched and I assumed I wasn’t doing a very good job.

“I’m sorr–” he said, before I interrupted him,

“Save it,” I said, and this time I sounded tired. I was too goddamn old to be dealing with his dramatic bullshit. God knows I still loved him, and probably always would, but a heart can only take so many hurts before it stops trying. I was long past that point with James. “What do you want?” I said, my words short and sharp and unforgiving.

“I wanted to apologise,” he said. “But since you don’t seem to want me to…”

I closed my eyes. I couldn’t look at those soulful baby blues any more. He’d always been able to get what he wanted just by fluttering his pretty eyelashes at me. The man was far too good looking for his own good, and I could feel the resolve I’d built myself over the last two years slip away.

“You hurt me,” I said, and I couldn’t keep my emotions under control. They spilled out into my voice, choking up in my throat. The corners of my eyes burned and I knew I was a few heartbeats away from tears. “You left.”

“David,” he whispered, taking a step closer to the counter. I wiped at my traitorous eyes and stepped back, not ready for him to be so close.

“I’m covered in flour,” I protested, though it sounded like a flimsy excuse even to me.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I fucked up David. I never should have left you.” He sounded utterly wretched and my stomach twisted.

“But you did,” I pointed out. “You left me and I moved on.”
“I haven’t,” he said, and he sounded so thoroughly miserable my heart ached. “I thought… I thought I wanted adventure, to see the world, but I was wrong. All I want is you.”

I felt my resolve crumbling. How many nights had I cried over this man that had broken my heart? How many times had I told myself I wouldn’t take him back no matter what? I should have known better.

I loved him. No amount of hurt could change that.

Something about my body language must have changed, must have tipped him off because he looked at me through his fringe, looking young and mischievous. He bit his lip, and I probably shouldn’t have found it as adorable as I did. “Can we start over?”

I should say no. I knew that. But for all I’d tried to pretend otherwise, the last two years had been miserable without him. Sure I’d moved cities and started my own business but success had been hollow without him beside me.

It wasn’t that I needed to be with someone in order to be happy. It was just that, when you love someone, you don’t feel right when you’re not with them.

I imagined Sunday mornings in my bakery, both of us covered in flour and grinning wildly at each other. I imagined him in an apron, tongue sticking out a little bit as he put the finishing touches to a customer’s cake. I imagined sitting in the cafĂ© watching the rain together, hands wrapped around hot mugs of tea.

That sounded so much better than a future spent alone.

I felt a grin steal over my face. “I think we can work something out,” I said.

He smiled and I felt breathless and giddy. Alive, like I hadn’t quite managed since he’d left. “Yeah? Cool.” James looked as giddy as I felt.

“If you’re staying, you can make yourself useful,” I said, aiming for stern but coming out more lovestruck and ridiculous. I nodded at the peg with the spare aprons. “These cupcakes all need icing before tonight.”

He scurried to grab an apron—a ridiculous pink one that said “kiss the chef”—and came round the counter. “I think I just about remember how to ice cupcakes,” he said. “You need anything special doing with them.”

I shook my head and handed him a piping bag, our fingers brushing as he took it from me. We shared a small, silly grin and I couldn’t resist; I leaned over and did exactly what his apron told me to.


“Welcome home,” I whispered against his mouth. “Welcome home.”




If you enjoyed this story feel free to purchase one of my books either here, or here. Or you can buy me a coffee here.

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