Friday, 27 January 2012

A Short Story

As you may know, one of the modules i'm studying at the moment is Creative Writing, as part of my degree. My second assignment entailed writing a short story of 2000 words. I personally find it cringe worthy and i'm not sure why I deemed myself qualified to write a Romantic story when i've been single for well over two years! Nevertheless, I scored a solid 76%, so can't complain. If you fancy a giggle, have a read!

One More Time
Despite it being a sunny afternoon in July, the sea was in turmoil, as the waves crashed against the Cornwall cliffs. In a quaint cottage nearby, mountains of boxes overflowing with memories circled thirty-five year old Sally Smith. It had been ten years since she had instructed that her belongings should be sent to storage. Now back in the country, her past was scattered before her eyes. Kneeling on the cold wooden floor, she felt her heart skip a beat, as she placed a trembling hand on a familiar, but now slightly crushed shoe box. Taking a sharp breath in whilst sweeping her fingers through her long curly blonde hair, she paused to consider whether she was ready to revisit the most important thing she left behind. Concluding that she had to face her demons at some stage, Sally blew the dust off of the battered shoe box and carefully removed the lid. A musty smell met her nose, as the contents hadn’t been disturbed for years. It was all there, she had kept everything from him, her first and only true love. Draped delicately at the top lay the napkin with his number written on in blotchy black ink, which he had purposely left on a table in the Cliff Top Cafe where she worked during her time at university. Slowly lifting the napkin to her lips, the memorable scent of coffee engulfed her nostrils causing her powder blue eyes to glaze over, she couldn’t believe she had given him up. Tears of regret streamed down her cheeks, as she sifted through the memoirs that lay dormant for a decade. Amongst the items; a cd of their song, valentine’s day cards, love letters and poems, tickets from their first cinema date and photographs of happy times. One particular photograph caught Sally’s eye, capturing them hand in hand at his brother’s wedding. Everybody said that they would be next. Letting out a deep sigh, Sally studied the picture more closely, smiling at his handsomeness and her youthful glamour. If only she hadn’t been so career driven, she taunted herself. It was totally her fault that they weren’t together, six years she allowed herself to throw away, just like that.

A little while later, the glow of the sunset shimmered through the open window situated behind Sally who could still be found sitting in the same place, reminiscing by re-reading all of the old cards, letters and poems. Mixed emotions filled her heart, as she laughed and cried at the keepsakes. Suddenly, the napkin grabbed her attention again, as the open window behind her let in a gust of wind. The snow white napkin fluttered elegantly across the floor, performing an intriguing dance. A teasing thought crossed Sally’s mind, as she pondered whether he still had the same number. Oh it was a crazy idea, the chances were a million to one and what on earth was she going to say to him if he did! He must despise her anyway or if not he’ll definitely be married by now and even have children. Sally kept toiling with the idea and based on the fact that the number would most likely no longer be in use she decided to give it a quick call.

Sally’s stomach jolted with shock when the phone line began to ring. She crossed her fingers tightly in the hope that if he answered, he wouldn’t immediately hang up when he discovered the caller was her.
‘Hello...’ his crisp voice filled her ears, he sounded exactly the same. ‘Hello...’ he repeated, as Sally froze with panic.
‘Tom?’ she found herself whispering in a shaky tone ‘it’’s Sally’ she blurted out.
‘Sally who?’ Tom replied blankly.
‘Sally Smith’. There was silence. ‘Tom? Are you there?’ her voice shook with fear.
‘Are you ok?’ he asked with serious concern.
Relieved at this caring response, Sally relaxed somewhat and the ex-lovers talked about what had been happening over the past ten years. Sally explained how she was back from teaching in Africa and Tom relayed how he got married, but now was getting a divorce after his partner fell out of love with him. Eventually, it was agreed that they would meet up the following Saturday for old time’s sake, which excited, yet petrified Sally both at the same time.

Saturday morning arrived and The Cliff Top Cafe was bustling with a combination of tourists and locals. Sally was surprised when she entered that the same candy striped table and chairs occupied the cafe. Peering around the room there was no sign of Tom, unless he had considerably altered his appearance or aged so dramatically that he was no longer recognisable. Spotting a vacant table in the far corner, over-looking the sea, Sally pushed her way through the crowd to claim it. Now all that was left to do was wait.

Every time the cafe door jingled, Sally’s head shot up to see if it was Tom. After fifteen minutes of waiting, she started to become agitated, fiddling with the straps on her crimson coloured summer dress. He must just be running late she assured herself, he’ll be here in a second. Twenty minutes had gone by and Sally found herself torturing herself, thoughts of a no show must be revenge on her leaving him or he must have taken a single look at her and walked straight back out.

Half an hour later, Sally’s gaze was transfixed on the ocean, watching the waves gliding in and out of the bay. A warm hand touched her shoulder. Startled, Sally jumped out of her skin expecting to turn around and finally see his face again.
‘Excuse me dear, a gentleman has just asked me to give you this’ came the voice of the elderly waitress who had worked in the cafe long before Sally did, yet didn’t acknowledge that she remembered her.
Sally screwed up her face in confusion and took the napkin she was waving around like she was holding the tail of a dead rat. A single word was scrawled on the napkin ‘Sorry’. Without thinking, Sally scraped back her chair that screeched loudly causing heads to turn and the elderly waitress to let out a tiny shriek. She leapt to her feet, tottering as quickly as she could in her six inch heeled sandals. She wasn’t prepared to let him go again, at least not without a final goodbye.

Standing outside the cafe, arms flailing, Sally scanned the surrounding area. She had no idea what Tom looked like these days. The cliff side was heaving, couples taking morning strolls, groups of surfers ready to catch some waves, families with small children admiring the beautiful view. Then she saw it, in the distance striding at speed away from her, a dark haired man in a red t-shirt and jeans. It was the walk that gave him away, arms motionless by his side, as if he was wearing a straight jacket. Sally always used to make fun of this identifying feature about him, joking that he was the spitting image of a penguin, especially on weekdays when he wore a suit for work. At present, she was delighted that he had a trademark walk and began to trot in his direction. The July sunshine made Sally’s hair stick to her reddened cheeks, her mouth felt dry and her dress clung to her skin. As the striding figure enlarged, Sally took a deep breath in and yelled over and over again Tom’s name, as if her life depended on it. He was still too far away and didn’t turn around.
‘Tom! TOM!’ she screamed breathlessly in a panicked tone. Finally, he stopped dead and twirled around to face her. There he stood, forty years old, but not looking a day over thirty. Six feet tall, medium build, and chocolate brown eyes that melted Sally’s heart sixteen years ago and was doing exactly the same today. Sally tried to get her breath back before stepping any closer to him and at the same time was trying to think of what to say, whether it should be something witty like ‘I don’t normally chase blokes down the street’ or something serious. Before she had worked it out, Tom started smirking, giving him those cute dimples, which turned into a hearty laugh.
‘What’s so funny?’ Sally demanded.
‘You, look at you’ Tom stepped towards her and flicked her curls out of her face, sparking a thousand butterflies to flutter around Sally’s stomach and her knees to buckle ever so slightly.
‘Sorry I didn’t come in, I couldn’t do it when I saw you, the pain of you know, when you left and never came back hit me like a ton of bricks’ Tom confessed.
‘No, I’m sorry, six months turned into a year and before I knew it, ten years. I guess being out there with those kids in those appalling conditions, blinded my judgement, all I could see was that they needed me, forgetting that you needed me too’ Sally broke down as she spoke.
‘You did what you had to do’ Tom said with understanding in his voice. ‘Fancy that coffee now?’
Wiping the tears from her face, Sally’s eyes lit up like a child at Christmas and a broad smile followed, as she nodded to signal her approval.

Sitting back in The Cliff Top cafe where it all began, Sally and Tom ordered coffee and cake.
‘Let me guess, cappuccino with extra chocolate sprinkles and a slice of Molly’s Marvellous Mud Pie’ Sally announced confidently, she would be stunned if he ordered any differently, as he used to order the same thing every Saturday, Tom was a creature of habit.
‘Well, I’ve got to keep sweet somehow’ he winked cheekily.
‘What are those cakes with glitter on? They look pretty’ Sally asked pointing at a cup cake on someone else’s plate.
Raising an eyebrow, Tom replied
‘you really have been out of the country for a long time haven’t you’.

Sally looked up from her latté and let out a giggle at the sight of Tom modelling a foam moustache from his cappuccino.
‘It suits you’ she sniggered. Tom frowned. Sally picked up a napkin from the table and leaned forward towards him. She gently wiped the creamy froth from his upper lip. Their eyes met and the pair stared at each other intently. Sally felt overwhelmed by this exchange and was waiting for the let down from Tom. However, instead he took her hands in his, his warm touch made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on edge, then he squeezed them tightly. Waiting anxiously, Sally was convinced her bubble was about to be burst. She closed her eyes too scared to face the dreaded words head on. At least she had the opportunity to meet him again and share another precious moment with him she thought. Maybe it was time to move on and start afresh once and for all. Without Sally noticing, Tom had lifted her hands to his lips and softly kissed her finger tips. Sally’s eyes flicked open in response to this affectionate action, witnessing the passion in Tom’s face. He still cared, after all this time and no doubt the heartache she must have caused him. How on earth did she give such a good thing up all those years ago and why on earth did she deserve a second chance. Processing these questions in her mind, Sally pulled her hands free from Tom’s grip and slumped back in her chair feeling perplexed. Lost for words the ex-lovers sat drinking in silence for a while.

The elderly waitress came to clear their table and gave Sally a look that she interpreted, as don’t let him go again, maybe she did remember her after all. Tom requested another napkin, Sally assumed for him to wipe the crumbs from his mouth. Yet, Tom unfolded the napkin so that it was fully open and skilfully started to twist and twirl it, licking his lips, as he did so, deep in concentration. A few seconds later he sniffed his masterpiece with a thoughtful smile, revealing those dimples that Sally adored.
‘For you my lady, I’ve missed you’ he said presenting her with the origami rose. Sally willingly accepted it, allowing it to tickle her lips, whilst her body flourished with glee and she felt like the luckiest girl in the world. She had been given a second chance at love. She wasn’t certain she deserved it, but was definitely going to make the most of it and never let the man she let slip away once, slip away one more time.