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Fiction Romance Sad

Chantelle didn’t usually leave much at Cory’s house. Once in a while she forgot a jacket or, once, her housekey. She’d never asked to leave a toothbrush there, and he’d never offered, so she typically kept it, a change of clothes, and other potential necessities packed neatly in a satchel.

That was why she was shocked when Cory emerged from his basement with a small flowered purse and interrupted her reading by tossing it at her. “Is that yours?” he asked.

Chantelle held it and traced the stitching with her fingertips. “I haven’t seen this in forever. How on earth did it end up in your basement?”

Cory shrugged and sat down next to her. “I don’t remember seeing it before.”

She smiled and unzipped the bag. It had the usual contents: tampons, pads, a pen, a pack of gum. There was something glass buried at the bottom. She reached and pulled out a miniature perfume bottle and examined the label.

“What’s that?”

Chantelle opened the lid. “I guess some perfume I forgot I had.” She misted the air in front of her, filling it with the sweet aromas of jasmine and blackcurrant. Almost instantly, she was taken back in time to a place only alive in her memories.

**

The room was too dark to make out his face, but she knew it was him. She could sense him; she could feel what he was feeling, taste the drink he was holding. He wasn’t scanning the crowd for her, but he was waiting. He invited her last night after a week of silence, and she was too weak not to come. She’d bought a new dress and was wearing a new perfume, an expensive brand she’d found on sale at the thrift store, unopened, untouched. It was an intoxicating scent. She knew he would love it.

She slipped through the crowd and gently touched his arm. He turned, smiled, and kissed her hello. They faced each other, moving in rhythm, lost in each other and the music in the background. She could feel each note pulse through her body. No time had passed between them, and no words were necessary. She ordered a drink, but she didn’t need it, not when she was with Julian.

They knew by the way they locked eyes when it was time to leave. They walked down Fourth Avenue, hands entwined. She couldn’t remember what they talked about; it didn’t matter. There were no secrets between them, no shyness or inhibitions. His hands were warm, despite the chilly night air, and his deep blue eyes danced. The more time she spent with him, the more she felt alive.

They hailed a taxi to take them to her loft. Lying in bed, still too excited to sleep, they took turns choosing songs to listen to. She loved his suggestions, enjoying every minute opportunity to learn more about his inner thoughts. Their tastes differed drastically, her music more upbeat, his music more expressive. It was when they listened to music together that he let his pain show, and she could feel it. She could feel when he turned pensive and desperately wished she could oust every negative thought from his mind. She knew the music soothed him when he was in a dark mood.

Occasionally she’d catch him listening to the same song on repeat until he was ready to move forward with whatever he was feeling.

That night he chose love songs and acoustic covers. She saw that, at least in that very moment, he was happy. It added extra peace to the atmosphere, and Chantelle lived for that peace. She never wanted it to end. It wasn’t until early that morning that they fell asleep. The last thing he’d said before drifting off was, “You always smell so nice.”

**

Cory was a decent man with dark hair she loved to run her fingers through. He was a country man who ended up in the city, muscles toned from outside work and a knack for hunting. He went to tractor pulls and some arena where he and his buddies drove their trucks through the mud. Chantelle still wasn’t sure what to call it. None of those things interested her.

This was perhaps why they lacked exclusivity. They’d never discussed a future, never professed love for each other. They were lonely bodies seeking companionship after years of slow, tortuous heartbreak.

“Are you cold? You have goosebumps,” Cory said, breaking her reverie. She looked at her arms. That happened every time she thought about Julian. She wondered if that happened to him when he used to think of her.

“A little chilly. Pass me the blanket.”

“Is your book any good?” Cory gestured toward the novel she’d set on the arm of the couch.

“Hm? Oh, it is. Let me read this part to you.” She turned to a highlighted page, and Cory’s eyes glazed over as she read. He was always a gentleman and listened to her, but she could see he wasn’t nearly as enthralled as she had been. Julian had loved too flip through her books and read the highlighted sentences and notes she made in the margins. He’d once said it was the most intimate thing he’d ever felt, making them completely vulnerable to each other.

She knew it wasn’t healthy to compare Cory to him, but she couldn’t help it. She shared something deep and indescribable with Julian, something she desperately longed to feel with someone else but couldn’t. She tried. But then, with Julian, she wasn’t trying; the connection was inexplicably there.

How long would she have to wait to feel that again? She trailed off and turned back to her book, silently. Cory was watching her. Surely he could sense that she wasn’t okay. It was at that moment that she knew—when she left Cory’s house later that night, she would never go back. This was another empty chapter, another dead end. She had to hope for a fraction of happiness in the next one.

October 02, 2020 03:32

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6 comments

13:23 Oct 08, 2020

Wow. This is so well written. You truly captured the emotions.

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Paige Leppanen
01:49 Oct 09, 2020

Thank you!

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Morgan Douglas
05:46 Oct 08, 2020

I really liked this, your use of sensory imagery was stellar. Great job!

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Paige Leppanen
01:49 Oct 09, 2020

Thank you!

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Madisson James
05:19 Oct 03, 2020

Nice!

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Paige Leppanen
17:19 Oct 03, 2020

Thanks!

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