Short Story #23

Sometimes the ideas come to me in disjointed flashes of inspiration which I have learned to write down, because trust me when you tell yourself that you will remember them – you won’t. This piece came as part of one thought, then another earlier today. When I sat to write the whole thing down, not everything made it in, but I managed – hopefully successfully – to combine the snippets into a meaningful story. I didn’t know how it was going to end until I wrote the last line and then went and added something earlier to create a fuller circle. I hope it works. Enjoy it and have a smiling day.

Behind the Mask
I leapt behind the Christmas tree and peered through the decorated branches. By her voice, mauve rinsed hair and floral dress I knew the lady at the deli counter was my parent’s nosy neighbour – Mrs Jensen. I had only been back in town for a day and had no desire to explain why I was still single or attempt to make her understand what a social media and image consultant did at the office, or in my case at home. No one needed to confirm for me that my life wasn’t what I’d hoped.
But was the man next to her Braydon? I leaned a little closer pushing two shiny baubles apart to get a better view. As a store employee cleared his throat next to me, wondering what I was doing, I bumped the tree and it began to wobble, ornaments knocking against one another causing a noise that attracted a few curious looks. I grabbed for the leaning conifer, but instead of righting it I pulled the entire tree on top of myself as I landed on my back on the floor.
Mrs Jensen’s shopping companion rushed over and pulled the tree back upright. Thinking quickly, I yanked my mask higher up my face. Once he made sure that it was balanced, he turned to me and offered his hand.
“Thanks,” I said pushing myself up on my arms and then scrambling onto my feet, “but we’re not supposed to touch.” I presumed the crinkling of his eyes was a smile as I couldn’t see the lower half of his face.
“Oh yes, I forget,” his slightly muffled voice came through the material covering his mouth.
I still wasn’t sure if this was the boy whom I had lived next to until the age of seventeen. If only I could see his lips then I would know, because I had dreamed of smashing mine into his in a mad passionate kiss since I was fourteen. Not that I had thought about that in the last five years of studies, graduating, starting a career and working my way up the ladder. The eyes looked like those of a familiar friend, but the hot muscular body didn’t resemble the skinny boy I remembered at all. Then again, my boobs and curves had only presented themselves in the last few years to any noticeable degree.
A piece of torn away tinsel floated onto the edge of his mask and hovered, and fake snow from the tree dusted the air. He grabbed his mask, yanked it onto his chin, as he turned away from me and placed his face into the crook of his elbow. “Achoo!”
I reached into my bag and handed him a tissue and when he had wiped his mouth, delight beamed underneath my mask. His were indeed the lips that had filled my youthful imaginings, that he slipped back behind the fabric. Now I only wondered if I dare tell him who I was.
“Does running from the law make you this clumsy or just hiding from old friends?”
“So you do recognize me? Truth be told I was hiding from your mother before I spotted you.”
“Then we’d better run before she gets finished,” Brayton said, forgetting the health regulations and grabbing my hand and running for the next aisle. We were giggling by the time we stopped. This was the fun I remembered, and I was just realizing what had been missing from my life since I’d left.

by Debbie Gravett © 2020.12.17

Image by jufuzhili from Pixabay

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