This is a piece of creative non-fiction. Two friends are trapped in an emotional predicament, where the truth of their separating from each other comes to light.


Literary fiction


M.A Schalk (United States)

The crisp fall air tickled at my cheeks as I cautiously walked towards the Starbucks outside patio. I had been having nightmares about this moment for weeks. The closer I got, the more light headed I began to feel. I couldn’t tell if I was afraid of the situation I had found myself in, or the many possible outcomes. I slowed as I came upon the Starbucks patio, scanning the place for her. There she was. She sat with her shoulders slumped against the back of the metal patio furniture. Her rear balanced on the very edge of the chair, legs spread open, in a manner seen as quite un-lady like. Her breasts flattened against her chest under a thick sports bra. A cigarette teetered between her index and middle finger as if it could fall from her grip at any moment. She never used to smoke; she even despised the sight of them. As I approached, she didn’t even flinch as she brought the stinking silent killer to her lips and took one long slow drag. I sat beside her, fanning the smoke away from my face, saying nothing. She peered out from behind her bangs cut boyishly over her eyes.
“Wha’s up?” she flicked her ashes over the arm of the chair, sizzling as they landed on a pile of dry leaves. I fidgeted in my seat as I watched her, her black hair was cropped close to her head, with one side shaved. Her bangs were a light teal, matching the colors of the geometric wolf tattoo on her right wrist. One of the many that completed a look of complete stereotype. Butch lesbian. She was often mistaken for a man, and she hated it. But, never once did she think to change herself to look more like a woman. Even despite her boyish appearance, she was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Finally, she turned to look at me putting out her cigarette against the brick wall behind us. She leaned in close to me her elbows resting on her still spread knees.
“Why are we here?” I couldn’t meet her eyes, and I dug my nails into my legs.
“I wanted to talk.”
“Everything.” My voice started to quake as my nerves began to take hold. She leaned back in her chair again. Crossing her arms over her flat chest. Waving her hand at me.
“Then talk.” She seemed so un-phased, a seven-year friendship ended because of one messed up situation caused by old high school rumors. I hadn’t prepared a speech. I wasn’t even sure what I had done. I sure as hell wasn’t about to apologize either. I straightened my shoulders and took a deep breath.
“I’m not sure what happened between us. But I can tell I hurt you.”
“I’m over it.”
I crinkled my brow to keep from scoffing out loud. She looked off into the distance at some object that was possibly more important than I.
“You’re not over it, I can tell. I’m not stupid.”
“Never said you were.”
“It’s implied when you think I don’t know that you’re ticked off.”
She sat up quickly, staring me down with a fire in her eyes that could burn a hole through marble. I had somehow pushed that invisible button she had buried deep down within her. It took all my energy not to smile with triumph. I knew she wasn’t okay, there was no way she could move on so quickly.
“Of course, I’m ticked off. You fucking bailed on me the moment you saw him.”
“I never bailed on you.”
“Yes, you did. I told you what he did to me, and you still fell for him.”
There it was. The great and powerful rumor that ruined it all. The story that my fiancé had regularly gossiped about her and I in high school. I didn’t believe it, not for a second. Her knuckles began to turn white as she gripped her knees. I stayed quiet as she shook with anger, speaking almost breathlessly.
“Why don’t you ever listen to me?”
“I wanted to make my own assumptions about him.”
She took a deep breath as her eyes fluttered close. Her eyes reopened with a softness I hadn’t seen since before it all happened. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her pack of cigarettes. Empty. With a long deep sigh, she flung the pack under the chair where I sat.
“That isn’t the only reason I’m mad.”
She stared down at her feet, she seemed almost as nervous as I was at the beginning of our talk. She reached up and ruffled her bangs, moving them out of her gorgeous brown eyes.
“I had wanted you for months…”
My heart stopped. What in god’s name was she talking about? I tried to speak, but she held up her hand as if to silence me.
“They day he asked you out…I had a whole big thing planned for the two of us. I was going to ask you to be with me.”
I sat in silence for a moment, trying to compose myself and figure out something to say, anything. But all I could come up with was:
“Oh fuck…”
She threw her head back in laughter. I loved the way she laughed her tongue always peeked out the corner of her mouth ever so slightly. I loved the way she laughed, but I could bring myself to laugh with her. There was something about this moment that gripped at my heart, willing it to stop beating. Her laughter fell silent as our gaze met once again. I pressed on the bridge of my nose with my index and forefinger, taking a deep, shallow breath.
“What do you want me to say to that?”
“That you love me.”
“You know I do.”
“Then show me. Leave him.”
This was it, the moment of truth. I sat there just staring at her for what felt like the longest time. I had been in love with her for six years, and she had never shown me any romantic affection. Why now? She held out her hand to me, and I took it in mine, bring it to my lips. My lips lingered there as my eyes started to well. I gave it a quick squeeze, trying to bite back my tears that already seemed to wet her hand. I looked up at her and placed her hand back on her knee.
“I’m sorry, I can’t.”
She lowered her head and nodded slowly, standing she straightened out her shirt, clearing her throat.
“Well, I’ll see you.”
And with that, she bottled it up once more. She walked off as if I was never even there, which seemed to be a specialty of hers. I knew this would be the last I would hear from her, and somehow I felt relaxed, almost free.

Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 2



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