*Prompt: Write your story about two characters tidying up after a party.*
He swept slowly, trying to get every little piece of glitter, streamer, and balloon into one pile. It was much harder than it looked, with the room being full of glitter and streamers and balloons. Every time he swept an area, more trash seemed to appear in its place.
After several attempts, he gave up and threw the broom onto one of the tables. He flopped into a chair opposite to it and let out a loud sigh. He was not having a good day.
He had walked into the party last night thinking he was going to have an awesome nighttime - and he did. At least for the first few hours.
He looked over at her, watching her slide plastic cups and paper plates into a garage bag. He wished she would yell at him to get back to cleaning or to help her with the garbage or just something. Anything. Even if it was a grunt or a scream of random words. He just wanted her to acknowledge him.
She bent down and picked up a beer bottle from the trashed floor. She scanned the room, looking for a recycling bin and taking in the full mess of the large party room that she had been commissioned to clean up. It was going to take hours, even days, to get it back in order.
She sighed and rested her head against a wall, instantly pulling it back again when she noticed something sticky touch her hair.
“What the-?” She fumed, reaching back to see what it was. It felt like a big glob of gum some idiot had stuck to the wall last night.
Great, she thought, like this day could get any better.
She walked over to a table and grabbed a roll of napkins to try to get it out, cursing under her breath.
Why has the world been against her lately? What did she ever do? All she wanted was a fun night of partying with her friends, but instead she got the worst night of her life.
She shoved the napkins into the garbage bag with more force than she needed to, but who cared? No one else was there but him and her, and he was the last person who should be judging.
He sat up in the chair, trying to think of a way to get her to talk again. Considering what happened last night, they needed to have a heart to heart and work things out.
“Hey, look-,” He tried after a moment, but she cut him off.
“Don’t you dare talk.” She snapped. “Get up and get back to work, because I’m not staying here all day.”
She twirled her dark blue hair up into a ponytail and started pulling down streamers. Did he really think he could talk and have her listen to his weeping, victimizing story about how he didn’t mean it and the reasons she should forgive? Hell no. She was so tempted to storm over and yell until he knew all the anger and sadness and pain, she felt sloshing around in her heart like a half full red solo cup.
But then again, giving him the silent treatment was much more satisfying.
Meanwhile, he stood up and paced the room, pausing every few steps to say something, but then re-thinking it and going back to pacing.
He needed to explain everything to her, make her realise that he didn’t mean it and have her forgive him. She wasn’t letting him talk, even though they should. He read somewhere that communication is the key to a good relationship and understanding each other resolved fights.
Once he was sure he had a couple good points planned out, he asked, “Please, can we talk.”
She slammed the garage bag onto a table, causing him to jump back in surprise. “Okay, you want to talk?” She demanded, ditching her silent treatment tactic. “Let’s talk about how you slept with the girl who has bullied and belittled me for years and has been trying to steal you away since we started dating. And somehow succeed. Like what the Hell? Let’s also talk about how I gave you all my free time and my dedication and you threw it all away like a rotten banana peel.”
“I wouldn’t say it like that. . .” He mumbled, caught off guard by her sudden outburst.
“You sure? ‘Cause that’s what I’ve been feeling like for the last twelve hours. An old moldy banana peel that got tossed in the garbage by some jerk that couldn’t appreciate a good thing.” She stared at him, not letting his gaze stray, even though her eyes were starting to tear up.
“I feel like you’ve moved a little away from the metaphor-”
“That’s not the point,” She interrupted.
“Fine, I’m sorry. What I’ve been trying to ask is if you could hear my side for, like, two minutes-”
“Don’t you get it?” She interrupted again, shaking her head in disbelief. “You don’t get to tell ‘your side’. You lost the right when your lips touched hers. There’s no ‘side’ for you to tell. You cheated on me and that’s it. That’s your story.”
“I made a mistake, okay?” He ran a hand through his tousled blond hair, “I would take it back.”
“We can’t take back mistakes,Calum. That's not how the world works. We have to learn to live with them. And now you’re going to have to learn to live with the fact you made the worst decision of your life.” She grabbed her coat from a chair and moved to the door. “You hurt me in ways that can’t be fixed with a simple ‘I would take it back’. Scars are forever, Calum. They never go away.”
“What, you're just going to give up on us?” Calum called after her. “That’s it. We can’t work things out or anything.” He raised his arms up in defeat and confusion. “I’m glad we are worth all this pain, but I guess fixing it isn’t.”
She whirled around and looked into his green eyes, remembering the rush she once got when they looked into her own. Now all she saw was the eyes of someone who crumpled her heart in his bare hands.
“We wouldn’t have to fix anything if you hadn’t cheated on me!” She shouted, the tears she had been holding back finally falling, making her makeup run. The same makeup she had put on to impress him for the party. “I loved you, Calum. I loved you. I would’ve given up everything just to be with you, but turns out, you would give me up for a chance to spend one night with some floozy.”
She started walking away, but turned back around and said, “If you wanted to be with her, you should’ve told me. Sure, it would’ve hurt for a bit, but I would’ve gotten over it faster and easier then this. I would’ve understood that you had a change of heart. But you decided to go behind my back instead.” She looked him up and down and spat with disgust, “You’re such a damn coward.
“I’m not a-” Calum stopped. What was he doing? Why was he trying to defend himself? He was the one who screwed up, not her. All he was doing was ruining his chances of her ever forgiving him.
He missed her so much. He missed the way her cheeks would blush when she and the fierce sparkle she got in her eyes when she saw a challenge. He missed how she used to scoff at him when he said she looked beautiful and how she used to kiss him when they were alone.
But then he behaved like a stupid little kid. Or a coward, as she called him. But he was a coward for different reasons.
He got scared by how he might not be ready for the love she was willing to give him and thought pushing her away was the best course of action.
So, when the opportunity arose to push her as far away as possible, he took it. And he ended up spending what was supposed to be the best party of his life with a girl he didn’t know or love and hurt the one he did.
Now he had to make it up and heal the wounds he had so carelessly cut.
Calum took a deep breath and made his eyes to meet hers. Those gorgeous dark chocolate-coloured eyes that had once been full of love and happiness when they met his own, but now they only showed anger. And sadness. And pain. So much pain.
“Ruqa, I...” He fiddled with this sweater, thinking of the best way to say all the emotions swirling in his heart. “I’m sorry, Ruqa. I’m so sorry for all the pain I caused you and everything else that I ever did to you. You’re right, I am a coward. Except I wasn’t scared to tell you I wanted someone else. I was. . .I was scared of having someone love me the way you were willing to, and I acted like a stupid kid and pushed you away in the worst way possible.
He took a deep breath and continued, “I never loved or wanted to be with Sophia, I just saw it to keep me from the scary reality of love. I love you, Ruqa, and I know I screwed this thing up and probably destroyed any chance of being with you again, but I’m still going to try to make it up to you. Maybe heal those scars. If you’ll let me.”
He waited, hoping he said the right things. He had never been good at words and speaking, but he would talk and say words from the heart every minute if it would strengthen his chances of her forgiving him.
Ruqa’s tongue turned to parchment with each of his words. She was speechless, even though seconds ago she could have screamed for hours about how he failed big time. She knew she should tell him that they could never be together again, and it was all his fault, but the part of her that still loved him stopped her. Maybe they could work it out. It would take a long time for the scars to fade, but maybe, just maybe. . .
“Calum, I-I don’t know what to say.” Ruqa said, taking a step closer. “I want things to go back to normal, but I’m not sure it’s possible. You broke my trust and my heart, and those things don’t mend easily.”
“I know,” Calum sighed, “But can you let me try? I know I don’t deserve a second chance, but I’m willing to go any lengths to win you back.”
He moved closer, so they were only two feet apart, and held out a hand as a symbol of promise.
Ruqa hesitated. What if this all was a sick joke? What if it didn’t work out and he ended up hurting her again, but this time even worse? What if they just weren't meant to be?
She gazed at Calum, trying to find something to calm her uncertainties. His eyes seemed sure. Ruqa also saw pain and longing to make things right. She had been too blinded by her own spite to see it earlier, but it was there.
All her doubts disappeared, and she smiled.
“Okay,” Ruqa stepped even closer, leaving only a couple inches of space left. “Win me back.”
She took his hand and closed the last bit of space between them, pressing her lips against his. She felt a smile blossom on his lips as his arms wrapped around her waist. They stood there, kissing, in the aftermath of a party that was supposed to have been the best of their lives.
It wasn’t, but the next morning turned out to be.