Last Chance With The One That Got Away

Was working off a writing prompt the other day posted by Writer’s Digest, I believe.  The word count was ~500, I went way over – which I am good at! I finally just stopped, but think it could be fleshed out much more – this scene and maybe even more. These were my instructions:

You call an old flame from high school whom you still have feelings for and ask to meet up. The flame says, “Sure, how about noon at the pub by your house.” While waiting at the pub, your flame walks in—wearing a wedding dress (or tuxedo). The flame looks at you and says, “I’m supposed to be getting married today, but …” What happens? Write this scene.

James was surprised when he had picked up the phone and Lyla’s very distinctive voice was on the other end. He hadn’t heard from her in a couple of years. Their history was complicated, and really in some ways was ancient – high school years. Though he had lost touch with her for a few decades, he had many phone conversations and computer chats with her over the last ten years or so, with the exception of his disappearances. Considering the circumstances, they knew each other fairly well and usually were quite comfortable talking or chatting online. He was glad the pub wasn’t far.

As Lyla opened the door to enter the pub, a tall man in a tuxedo reached past her and opened the door for them both. They hadn’t seen each other in decades, but he knew who she was the minute he saw her. James was dazed by her appearance, and her intoxicating scent, as he followed her in through the door. As she turned around to thank him for his gentlemanly behavior, she realized who he was.

“Oh my gosh,” she said as she reached up to hug him. He hugged her with an intensity that surprised them both, picking her up off her feet and spinning her around once before setting her back down.

With his big ear-to-ear grin, he responded, “Hey baby!” At that moment, it was all he could manage to say. His mind was racing, and he was wondering if he was really doing the right thing. Though he was beginning to second guess himself, he decided he would not let this moment pass him by again.

“I have never seen you dressed like this, wouldn’t have thought that was your style. Might not have recognized you, especially after all these years,” she said with an easy laugh.

“I’m supposed to be getting married today, but …” he said pensively, as he lowered his head.

“No you’re not – stop jacking with me, seriously, you look incredibly handsome, but why’re you dressed like that” she laughs.

“No, I’m not,” he said. “I AM supposed to be getting married today, Lyla.”

“What? I had no idea,” she said. “Why didn’t you say something? I know we haven’t talked in a couple years, so I’m obviously out of the loop. Why didn’t you say something? Why are you here?”

Before he could even formulate what he wanted to say, she repeated, “WHY didn’t you tell me you were getting married and more importantly WHY are you here?” It was obvious Lyla had no idea what to make of this from the bewildered look on her face. James was quiet, and incredibly nervous, and he knew she deserved answers since he agreed to meet her. He could have told her on the phone, but this was the first chance he’s had to see her in decades. He had to see her. He had to do this right.

James looked at her and said, “I need a drink, let’s go sit down over here in the back.” They ordered their drinks at the bar, before they made their way to the booth in the back of the pub. They were sitting just long enough to light a cigarette when their drinks were delivered. Lyla stirred her margarita; James took a slug off his Grey Goose. He stared at her and took her hand in his. He was amazed at the electricity that seemed to run through him just from holding her hand. He was so nervous, he was afraid he might tremble ever so slightly, so he took a deep breath to recompose. He noticed the bracelets she was wearing; one was leather with hematite beads wrapped five times around her wrist. He noticed she wasn’t wearing her wedding ring.

He had heard she was widowed, and it was all he could do not to contact her. As a matter of fact, that’s why he left the country for over a year to work in Switzerland – to put as much distance between them as he could. James got a new cell number and quit browsing on Facebook before leaving, but he had found out about her husband dying a few years back. James had loved Lyla since the day he met her. She was 14, he was six months older and had already turned 15. Talking to her the first time made him so nervous, he almost threw up. She was something else – her eyes had a soulful depth, and a deep green like the color of pine needles, and her smile lit up the room and was as contagious as a cold. She was smart, funny and sarcastic, too – he liked that. His heart belonged to her, it always had. Every woman he ever allowed himself to get close to since had that same color of eyes though that wasn’t the only reason, coincidentally it turned out that way and he was fine with it.

He felt like his heart had been ripped from his chest when he walked away from her all those years ago without even telling her he had a wedding ring in his pocket with her name engraved in it. How could he tell her? She looked so happy and was in love with another man. He had stayed away long enough to save a nice stash of cash so he would have something to offer her when he came for her. He had no idea until he got to her parent’s house that she had moved in with her new boyfriend across the street a few months prior. He had stayed away just long enough to lose her. As much as he wanted to leave there with her, hand-in-hand headed for their new life, he could tell she was happier than he had ever seen her. Though he knew they had a connection, he just couldn’t do anything that would cause her any turmoil. Her happiness meant more to him than his own, and she had endured enough turmoil.

“Lyla, I told you some time ago, whenever someone asks, I always tell them you’re the one that got away. You have been no small part of how I examine a prospective girlfriend, wife, even friend. My memories of you run long and deep,” he said softly, his voice trembling just a bit, enough that she noticed. “Anyone who wins your heart is luckier than anyone else who ever lived. I want to win your heart, I always have. But it has to be on your terms, not mine.” He added, “And your timing is impeccable . . . always loved that about you!”

“James, what about your bride-to-be,” she asked.

He ignored her, took another gulp of his vodka, swallowed hard and finished it up. “My lord woman, you have no idea how smokin’ hot you are do you. You’ve have an imagination and a wit and a depth I’ve not found in most others – I have never been able to get you out of my heart. I am not going to feel like I am settling again, not if there is any chance you and I might have a life together.” He looked over and motioned the waitress to order another drink – he needed it, as he was getting nervous since she was strangely quiet. Lyla wasn’t typically a quiet person. As he was holding her hand, gripping it at this point, her hand was starting to sweat just a little. He eased his hold and now was cradling her hand in both of his. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“You know I wanted to marry you back then. I have always wanted to spend my life with you. At this point, Lyla, we aint getting no younger girl,” James’ voice cracked.

When the waitress came over, he ordered another Grey Goose. Though she hadn’t finished her drink she ordered another margarita telling the waitress, “I think we might be here a bit.”

Lyla smiled at him, squeezed his hand, and said, “Tell me about this poor woman you are going to leave brokenhearted at the alter. And as you are telling me about her, you better make sure this is really what you want, ‘cause you won’t be able to undo it.”

Lyla felt bad for this woman she did not know, but she knew how James felt about her. He had made that clear in bits and pieces over the years after they had reconnected in their 40s. She had always felt they had a connection, and he had always had a little piece of her heart. One time, when he told her just because someone is your soul mate doesn’t mean you’re not someone else’s, she told him she felt like maybe they were soul mates in another life. This was the first time she had laid eyes on him, with the exception of one picture on Facebook, in almost 40 years.

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© ~ Sadie ~ and Windchimes and Dreamcatchers, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to ~ Sadie ~ and Windchimes and Dreamcatchers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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