She’s sitting there, eating tinned peaches. This is something we do every week. I drink tea, she has peaches, sat at a table in our favourite cafe. Today feels different. Next to the bowl is the book I gave to her last week. She hasn’t put it down. I’m in two minds. We don’t speak as much now that I’ve given her the book.
There’s so much I want to say to her, but I can’t.
I want to say, I love you.
My love for her has grown like a stubborn houseplant. Twice I’ve had to scoop the mould off the topsoil with a tablespoon. I don’t know where to put our love, the plant. Should it go by the window for all to see, or in the cupboard, just for me? Love pokes its small head through frosted ice on a frozen lake or through the wooden slats of a well-tended garden bed. Love perseveres even when the gardener in our brain prunes it and covers it in emotional weed killer.
She looks up at me and smiles, briefly. I wonder if she knows what I’m thinking. If she does then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t say it, right now, just say I love you and then leave the cafe before she has any time to answer. Get up and run.
She’s reading again.
Is it love if I can’t say it to her?
Sometimes I think I see it in her eyes. Something that can’t distinguish itself between love and friendship. A flicker of the milky in-between. A pleasant purgatory. Like the sun’s warm glow or the nutrients sucked up through long and winding roots, courage fuels love. I should say it. I didn’t know if my mouth would be able to put the words together.
“I like you, Rose.”
She didn’t look up – but she smiled, and I saw her eyes pause on the page.
“Well, that’s good, isn’t it.”
Yes. Yes that’s good, isn’t it. I moved to pick up my bag and run, run far, far away.
Half way out of my seat, I see that her hand hovers over a word I can’t make out. She looks up with that questioning look on her face where the tongue is poised for asking, but her face softens and loses its urgency.
“Yes. I like you, too.”
Suddenly it was a lot more than tea and peaches in our favourite cafe.
This is a rework of a very old story I wrote. Probably four years old, now. It was one of the first stories about love that I wrote that I didn’t find totally cringe-worthy. I was an angsty teenager back then, what can I say? Reading over it in preparation for this rewrite (I even stole some of the lines, I wonder if you can guess which ones) I was fascinated by my old writing style. There’s a lot semi-colons and long, winding sentences. I miss writing like that, might have to give it a go at some point.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the story for today’s Daily Prompt, FILTER.
You can read my other prompt responses (usually in story form) at the links below.
Exquisite – a schoolteacher receives terrible news in the middle of class, follow me as I take you through his emotional unravelling.
Marathon – a young woman takes up running to forget her troubled home life.
Stories in Short #12 (Capable of change) – a man wakes up and decides to paint his door. His wife’s asleep in the car, and about to leave.