Seated At The End

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Every time the door opens she looks up. This time it’s a woman with two small children and not the person she is supposed to meet. She arrived an hour ahead of time in order to calm her nerves with a cup of tea. It’s been years since the word “date” had any meaning in her life and the idea going back into the proverbial sea of fish is terrifying, not to mention humiliating.

Her best friend picked the guy. She said he was nice looking and knew the feeling of a divorce. This could be good or bad. Two souls ripe with hurt had a shot of finding comfort in one another, but they could also feed each other’s insecurities and open a new door to Relationship Hell. Then again, nothing could happen as well. Some people just don’t click no matter what they have in common.

She rubs her temples and takes a deep breath. Once again, she’s over analyzing the situation. All those self-help and pop psychology books on her shelf have screwed up her mind more than the trauma of having to start over again. Those books are full of advice, but short on the truth. No one likes to talk about the tricky business of accepting how nothing will ever be the same. It doesn’t matter how much you reinvent yourself because the past you loved is gone. And it’s never coming back.

Fifteen minutes before he is supposed to arrive, the door opens. A man walks in and eyes each table in the cafe as if he’s looking for someone. Could this be him? He is tall with salt and pepper hair and has a kind face. Not bad at all, she thinks. She sits up straight and adjusts her red sweater. In her last text message to him, she told him to look for the woman in red.

His eyes catch hers and then look past her to someone sitting two tables down. His face lights up with a smile and twinkling eyes when he recognizes a woman who is probably half his age. In the name of preserving what is left of her self-esteem, she decides the youngster is his daughter.

Laughter and conversation surround her on all sides. So many people having fun with friends, family, or new acquaintances. And here she is sitting all alone, wondering if she looks as lost and out of place as she feels. She tried to hide it with make-up and the red sweater, but who is she fooling, anyway? Certainly not herself.

The negative thoughts are starting to win, again. Stop. Stop. Stop. Good things are the result of good thoughts. Right? At least they are according to Dr. Whoever and his latest bestselling fix-all solution. Stop. Sarcasm doesn’t help, either.

With only ten minutes to meeting time, she swishes what remains of her black tea to stir up the flavor. There is nothing worse than a bitter end.

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c.b.w. 2014

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The Expanding Pear

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I submitted this story to the Your Story competition in Writer’s Digest, but it didn’t make the final cut.  Instead of sulking, I’ve decided to celebrate my first submission of the year by sharing it with my readers. Meanwhile, I’m already working on two more pieces to submit in other competitions.

This piece was entered into contest #42, which gave the prompt of starting a story with the phrase “I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast.”

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“I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast,” I mutter.

My muffin top looks like the baker spooned too much dough into the paper cup.  A year ago this size would have fit just fine, but now it threatens to give me a blood clot. As if that isn’t depressing enough, I’m in this predicament because my favorite jeans split right up the rear seam when I bent over to pick up the cat last night.

The fluorescent lights of the dressing room drains my skin of all color and makes me think I should have worn at least a little make-up.  The jeans I’ve stuffed myself into bunch up under my hips and the back pockets refuse to lay flat or straight. Nothing ever fits right.  Half the time I don’t know why I even try.  Clothes are made for women too afraid to eat or fans of masochism.

I can hardly look at myself in the mirror, yet I stare and wonder why my curves are so ugly.  I bubble out like a pear with my bulging gut, back fat, and wide thighs.  Great.  I look like a fruit I don’t like to eat.  That’s right, skinny on top and global on the bottom.  And I just keep getting more juicy and plump! Of course, my sister looks like a runway model with her beanpole frame and bright blue eyes.  Where was the magic gene fairy when I was born?

The too tight jeans dig into my thighs and as I try to shimmy out of them. The waistband just won’t stretch another inch. Honestly, why does all the fat settle just above the knee?  Giving up on the pants, I try to wiggle out of the shirt, but the shoulder seams clamp down the moment I move my arms.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Oh, no!  Was that the sleeve?

Now stuck with jeans wrapped around my legs and my arms cinched in a shirt that will not come off, my confidence deflates as though it’s just sprung a leak. Too bad my balloon butt can’t do the same thing. Tears burn my eyes and I slowly sink into the bench.

Why can’t I be beautiful?

A sick feeling of disappointment churns in my stomach.  It doesn’t matter what I do. I’ll never be a Size 2 or the blonde who flaunts it because she has the right to feel pretty.  So, why not give me extra fries with that large chocolate shake, please.

A little tap sounds on the dressing room door.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

I wipe my tears and suck in a deep breath. No.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

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c.b.w. 2012