Old Love - Part 3

Written in response to: End your story with someone saying: “What a day.”... view prompt


Fiction Romance

Julia King was walking briskly over the Muskoka river when she bumped into a tall man on the bridge.

"I'm sorry," she apologised, not seeing the person's face, therefore not knowing who it was. "I wasn't watching where I was going."

Then Julia looked up and deeply regretted saying anything. The elderly man was Matthew Turstin, her sworn enemy. In a way. It was too complicated to go into detail at the moment.

Matthew smiled. "Well, hello, Mrs. King. May I help you?"

Julia recoiled, shrinking away from the Human Devil as if he were some sort of unlikeable vegetable. 

“No,” she said brusquely. She added “Thank you” to the end to make it sound like a second thought. 

As a matter of fact, it was on the tip of her tongue the entire time, just waiting to be said.

Specifically, waiting to be said to Matthew.

Julia brushed off her clothes, quickly taking in her surroundings. Matthew wasn’t alone on his walk; there was a woman about his age standing next to him.

Julia thought the woman looked slightly disgusted at Matthew’s hand touching Julia’s to help her up, but Julia secretly liked the woman’s repulsion. Or was it jealousy?

Either way, Julia milked the attention for all it was worth, since she enjoyed the strange woman’s hate for her. In fact, she found it humorous. Besides, she might as well make a terrible first impression while she was ahead.

“Where are my manners?” Matthew cajoled himself, then flashed Julia a smile that made the woman beside him roll her eyes. Julia would have normally rolled her eyes as well, but today was different. She returned the smile, obviously startling Matthew as well. He wasn’t used to Julia showing any sort of acknowledgement toward him on their best days.

“I haven’t introduced my friend yet. Mrs. King, this is Janice Woodworth.” Matthew extended a hand to Janice, who slipped hers into his but didn’t say a word.

Julia raised her eyebrows.

“Janice, this is Mrs. Julia King, a very old friend of mine.” The unspoken words an old flame of mine hung in the air, but neither Julia nor Matthew put them in. There was an uncomfortable silence for a few moments, broken by a sniff from Janice.

“We should continue on our walk, Matthew,” Janice said, shooting a scathing glare at Julia. “It’s good exercise.”

Julia believed that Janice just wanted to get away from her. The feeling was mutual, so Julia made the first move to leave.

“I’m sorry, I really need to get home,” she lied, slowly stepping away from Matthew and Janice. “I’ll see you soon, Matthew.” That was of course a lie, but Julia wanted his companion to feel uncomfortable. She succeeded, noticing that Janice shifted positions slightly. That brought a sense of pride and smugness to Julia, and she loved it, basking in the awkwardness oozing from the other woman.

On her walk home, all Julia could think about was Janice, the woman Matthew had been on the bridge with. What was their relationship status? Were they romantically involved at all, or was that just speculation on Julia’s part? 

Julia shook her head as if trying to free the thoughts swirling around her brain. Too many thoughts, too little time. All she knew for sure was that she needed to separate Janice and Matthew. She didn’t like competition.

Wait, what? Did I just think that? Julia pressed her fingers to her temples, trying to clear her head. It didn’t work as well as she’d hoped. The worst could not be happening.

Julia had come to the dreadful conclusion that she might, just might… ugh, she couldn’t say it out loud. But could she? No, not possible. Get it out, she told herself. Admit it. She took a deep breath. It was possible that she could… be starting to love Matthew Turstin again, after over fifty years. Maybe.

But, Julia being Julia, she couldn’t accept that bland, obvious truth. So, in typical Julia fashion, she simply ignored the fact and forcefully shoved her thoughts in a different direction entirely, wiping any traces of Matthew Turstin from her mind.

Trying to think of something different, anything other than Matthew Turstin, Julia began musing over how to make it clear to Janice that Matthew was off-limits. Nope, that’s still not off-topic enough, Julia decided, sinking further into her memories, ransacking her hippocampus for other random conversations or moments she could latch onto and delve into to forget Matthew.

While Julia was searching for different, non-Matthew-related memories, she suddenly realized that most of her thoughts were haunted by Mr. Turstin, like a gloomy cloud lurking over her head.

Julia shook her head like a dog, trying to dislodge every single memory or thought she’d ever found about Mr. Matthew Turstin. Her attempts were futile; her brain and heart refused to let them go.

She tried to focus on a memory of when Lilly was a young child, when Julia was a new mother and still learning. That was back when Julia’s husband, Frederick, had still walked the Earth jokingly and with a smile, as he always had. 

Present-day Julia smiled sadly, remembering how she had loved Frederick with all her heart. He was the love of her life, and memories of him always made her happy. Now they made her sad, too, because Frederick was gone, but it was a happy kind of sad, if that made any sense. 

Either way, it definitely took her mind off Matthew, if only for a few blissful moments. But as soon as Julia slipped out of her memories and back into real life, every thought of Matthew came rushing back to her in a tidal wave of emotion. Anger, longing, jealousy, happiness, so many feelings were hitting Julia like a tsunami.

Feeling all these emotions and thinking non-stop about Matthew Turstin was exhausting. Julia crawled into bed, thinking, What revelations have come to light today? Then, What a day it has been.

March 19, 2022 15:23

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.