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Romance

I rarely become speechless but for the first time in a long time I was utterly lost for words.


Who would have thought the chances of our paths crossing of all places would occur in local farm shop on the outskirts of a tiny rural village in the Balearic Islands? But here we were.


I did a double take at first, and at second, convincing myself it wasn’t her - after all, her hair was a different colour to the bright pink and black I last saw her, she didn’t have the winged Amy Winehouse-style eyeliner, nor the punk fishnet tights and clunky Doc Martens - rather quite the opposite, dressed in a long flowery summer dress, shoulder-length dirty blonde hair and a fresh face with some simple summer sandals on her feet. She was tanned, not as brown as my cappuccino, sun-ripened skin but definitely not as pale as we once were back in our rainy home country of Washington. She had a satchel slung over her shoulder, to which she was rummaging around under the heat of the midday sun, flustered, looking for her wallet as the server waited with her bag of fresh produce, smiling patiently.


Here I was, stood in the middle of the hubbub of the bustling market, clutching my pastry like an idiot as people shoved past me, some offering a quizzical look as they went, some simply carrying on their everyday lives with no idea of what had just struck me.


I tried to pinch myself. How I could tell it was her is beyond me but it definitely was. Especially as on finding her euros, she handed them over to the server with a returning smile, the same crooked smile that I had grown to know and love all those years ago. 


I felt my heart squeeze. 


She was walking towards me. I was hidden by crowds of people shouting in foreign languages but I could see her perfectly through the gap. Did she see me? My breathing quickened.


Idiot, do something!


I stepped to the side into the shade of a market stall and pretended to be choosing the fruit, all the while taking a glance to check whether she was still coming my way. She was. I apprehensively wiped the sweat off my brow, partially from the stifling Spanish heat and partially from the collection of intense feelings running through my veins.


I hadn’t seen her for twenty-four years, and never thought I would, nor had prepared to ever see her face again.


And who would have thought, of all the places in the world, we would come together in a little farmers market in an unheard of town in the small rural communities of the Balearic Islands. But here we were. 


Despite being so different, she was as beautiful as I remembered. 


Was this fate bringing us together? I needed to speak to her, if I passed up on this opportunity now I may never see her again. 


Shit, what was I doing? We were in our late thirties now, I was going to hit the forty mark this year. I was married with three beautiful children, and a beautiful loyal wife. Was I going to throw that away for one single opportunity to speak to a long-lost high school sweetheart? 


Our love was passionate, we were young and fiery (hormones definitely had a part in that) but it was so intense and to that day I still thought about it on occasion. I wouldn’t have ever thought about going against the loyalty and stable marriage I had now with my wonderful wife, who was perfect and we worked well together, we were mature adults and had built foundations for our lives like mature adults do. But there was something about this relationship those twenty-four years ago that was very different, and nothing would ever compare. We were certainly not the right match, and certainly were not destined to be together for the rest of our days. We were reckless and stupid, unsafe at times even. We both had our qualms and struggles as young adults do - she was rebelling against her very conservative parents by adopting the gothic punk-rock lifestyle, and I was doing much the same, stupid enough to believe my parents didn’t ‘get me’ when in fact, I didn’t get myself nor had the communication nor introspective skills to understand why. We both bonded over the fact we hated school and life in general, and wanted to do anything to go against the grain. We went to many concerts together and would stand right at the front with the speakers at full blast (blessing me with tinnitus in my later years), and get high and find somewhere hidden enough, whether that be in the back of my old Ford Escort, in a nearby woods or if we were feeling risky and frisky enough, even behind the bins of the concert hall, where we would fornicate. I wouldn’t go as far as making love - rather seizing the very regular horny feelings and attraction to get a mutual thrill.


But the truth was we did fall in love, whether we wanted to or not, and that was our downfall. We didn’t want to fall in love, really. We didn’t want to catch feelings but we did. And that was were things went wrong, we were both too feisty and unsettled in ourselves to sustain such a relationship. She broke it off with me, and for a long few months I was in a dark place, believing that my life was over because she was gone. She moved away, we left high school and went our separate ways. And I got over her. And that was it. That was the last I’d ever thought I would see or think of her in my conscious mind. 


But here we were. Here she was, no more than twenty metres from me, and here I was, a mature grown family man, replaying the memories and emotional toil of our dalliance, connecting with feelings I thought I would never feel for this woman again. 


Every rational instinct in me was telling me to walk the other way, to not bring myself to her attention, but the small part of me which is still that dark, reckless boy from my dim and distant past was screaming to be heard, to be seen one last time.


And this was why I was now standing in the full sun again, stepped out from the market stall, and from my lips her name was being called. 


She looked up, her hands full of pears, a quizzical look spreading across her face.


What had I done? My heart was now hammering, another fresh bead of sweat was running down my cheek and the nape of my neck was wet. I frantically wipe, trying to rationalise my reasoning for calling out her name when I was married with three children.


Exes could be friends. Exes could speak to one another. Exes could be in each other’s lives.


But should they be if they were causing this internal and external response?


It was too late. She had seen me and I watched her eyes as a series of expressions flash across her complexion. Panic struck within me, along with a collection of questions bubbling to the surface of my conscience. 


How did she feel about me? What did she think of me now? Did I look THAT old? What if she had hard feelings? What did this mean now? Was she going to ignore me, walk the other way? Was she going to be angry - surely hard feelings don’t last twenty-four years. Surely? 


Or worse - what if she didn’t remember me?


She was walking towards me, that same look on her face.


Oh, god. I felt my loose shirt clinging to my back and tried to steady my breathing. Maybe she didn’t hear me, maybe she hadn’t seen me. But she wouldn't be staring straight at me if that was the case, and I wouldn’t be seeing an image of a pink-haired rebel in Doc Martens striding towards me with insane confidence and attitude if that was the case. My back wouldn’t be tingling with the sensation of her eyes locked onto mine if that was the case. My heart flipped and I desperately tried to think of my wife, desperately try to rationalise the stupidity inside me that decided this was a good idea. My legs instructed me to run but I could do nothing but watch as she got closer, her dress billowing in the afternoon breeze and her blonde locks bouncing on her shoulders. I didn’t even know her hair was naturally curly. Did I even know her at all? 


Guilt suddenly struck me. Of all the empty sex, drugs and partying and the inevitable feelings that I did catch for this woman coming towards me, did I even make an effort to know her at all? Did I even attend to the feelings she felt beneath the surface? If I had, if I had not been so self-absorbed and caught in my own vengeful feelings, if we had both communicated and learned about our true selves underneath the hardened exteriors that we had formulated from our difficulties in expressing our emotions, maybe this relationship could have worked after all. Maybe it could have. 


Maybe it still could.


I have a wife and three kids. You have a wife and three kids!


“Andy?” she answered. 


And like that, my thoughts melted into nothing as her sweet voice fills my ears.


“Martha -” I began, but I was cut off as she wrapped her arms around my form and squeezed me into a tight, relieving embrace.


Who would have thought twenty-four years later Martha and I would be reunited under the heat of the midday sun some hundreds of miles from home, in a tiny rural village in the Balearic Islands, with lives and minds so starkly different than we last had known each other for - and feelings still lingering from long-lost dalliances.


But here we were. And neither of us knew what was going to happen next.

August 11, 2020 11:30

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9 comments

Jessie Nice
13:33 Aug 11, 2020

Author's note - let me know what you think of this story and if you would like a follow-up. Leave feedback and critiques if you wish. Happy writing :)

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Deborah Angevin
09:52 Aug 14, 2020

I like the suspense that continues on throughout the story! It keeps me reading until the end. P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Grey Clouds"? Thank you :D

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Jessie Nice
09:31 Aug 15, 2020

Thank you, Deborah! No problem. :)

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18:43 Aug 12, 2020

I love the looooong build up! It doesn’t feel over-stretched either. The suspense is well described and I feel like I’m there. Waiting for her to catch sight of him and what his reaction will be!! I’m not sure where you’re from, if you’re American, but this story reminds me of the song “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks (which if you’re from the US you might well know!) which is about a happily married guy who sees his first love many years later and wonders “what if.....” like your male character. Then he realizes he already has everyt...

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18:46 Aug 12, 2020

Oh and maybe the protagonist is another woman. I just realized that!

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Jessie Nice
19:09 Aug 13, 2020

My goodness thank you SO much for all your positive feedback, Victoria!! I really really appreciate it :) I am actually from the U.K. and I haven’t heard of that song but I will have a listen! And yes, I have pre-conceived ideas of my protagonist however I really love to hear from the readers how they interpreted the story. The protagonist is a man here but I was toying with the idea of making it a woman! Let me know if you would be interested in a follow-up to this story if I get the chance if a suitable prompt comes up. Onc...

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Genevieve Taylor
15:24 Sep 11, 2020

Wow this was a really interesting, enjoyable, well written story! I saw someone else in the comments say that they enjoyed the suspense that ran through it all, and I completely agree. This story took place over only a few minutes, but by the end I understood the characters and was waiting on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next. I adored the backstories. Young love is always such an interesting concept. Also, the first line was fantastic. It completely caught my attention. Great job! Stay safe and keep writing! -Vieve

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Cool story 😎😎😎 Keep writing! 😆

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Jessie Nice
17:19 Aug 12, 2020

Thanks Aerin, you also!

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