Well, I’m back from my trip across Texas. My son and I made it to Texarkana from Albuquerque in two days rather than the three we planned. And on our return, we made the trip in one day instead of the expected two. We both wanted to sleep in our own bed that night. Need I say it took a week to recover from the ordeal?
I’m obligated (at least I feel I am) to once more remind you that DSP Publication will be releasing Cut Hand in late October. Now let’s get to this month’s post, another flash fiction story.
Did Daryl realize how intimate this moment was? We leaned over a small table in a dimly-lighted teen bar, his hand inches from mine, his eyes focused on me. We’d played soccer together since the fourth grade, showered together, swum in the river, Hugged with foreheads touching when one or the other made a goal. We’d been buddies, pals, double dating partners… inseparable. Now it was over. He was going to Texas to play for the Longhorns while I remained here to attend UNM. Tonight was goodbye, and I would remain as hungry for him as ever.
The closest we’d come to satisfying my yearning for him was a year ago when we’d stood side-by-side, leaning against the trunk of my car masturbating after a particularly hot double date at the local drive-in. He’d never know how close I came to brushing his hand aside and kneeling to take care of his need. But I didn’t dare put our friendship at risk by satisfying my selfish desires.
Tonight was different in some way I couldn’t define. Our last night together. Oh, we’d see one another again when he came home on break, but by then new friendships would be forged, new interests developed. And old ones dropped. I coughed to mask the sob welling up inside me.
I almost flinched when I felt his hand on mine. His strong fingers rubbed the surface of my senior class ring. His warm touch set off a tingling of desire and anticipation somewhere south of my stomach.
“I lost mine already,” he said as he removed his hand. “Dropped it on the soccer field last Sunday. Looked everywhere, but couldn’t find it.”
“Damon Bones has a metal detector.”
“Yeah, I know. We already tried it. Nothing. Somebody found it.”
“It had your name inscribed on the inside, didn’t it?”
“Yeah.” That word held a touch of fatalism in it.
I laughed… but it came out something like a giggle. “Some girl’s already got it on a chain around her neck claiming you gave it to her.”
Was he packing unspoken emotion into those single-word responses or was my imagination in overdrive? I imagined that ring hanging around my neck on a slim gold chain. With that thought in mind, I swallowed hard and tugged my ring off my finger.
“Here, take mine.”
“I can’t do that. It means too much to you.”
My throat squeezed tight. “Maybe… mean more to you.” I wasn’t even sure he understood me. My words sounded something like the shriek of a cat in distress.
“Naw, man. Keep it. You might want to give it to somebody someday.”
Had he tumbled to what I was doing? He got real quiet and didn’t move a muscle for a minute before starting to talk about last Friday’s match with our arch rivals. We’d each scored a point, the only goals in the game. I vividly remembered the hug we’d shared in the middle of the field before the rest of our team piled on to participate in the joy but spoil the moment.
The rest of the evening became merely the rest of the evening as we shared memories of our senior year. The intimacy—real or imagined—was gone, and we were merely best friends ragging on classmates and remembering events differently.
He glanced at his watch. “Better get on home. Leaving early tomorrow. My dad and I are gonna drive my car to Austin, and then he’ll fly back home.”
Only then did it strike me that he’d chosen to spend his last night in Albuquerque with me instead of his girlfriend of the moment. Paying our tab and getting out of the place—slowed by farewell handshakes with others—gave me time to get my emotions back under control. Once outside, we walked wordlessly to our cars sitting side by side in the parking lot. Then we paused and shook hands, which became a hug… an abrazo, the Mexican embrace of men. Before he released me, he whispered into my ear.
“Sorry it didn’t work out.”
Daryl climbed into his car and pulled out of the lot, leaving me standing there visually following his tail lights in the darkness until they became indistinguishable from others. I pulled air into my lungs as instant loneliness washed over me, leaving me shaky.
A real sob escaped me as I realized I coulda, shoulda… but didn’t. Leaving me aching with regret.
Does the story bring any pangs from the past? It certainly does for me. A few years back, my “Daryl” came through town and called me to have lunch. Throughout the meal, I mentally relived the longing I had held onto for so long. Did he remember our “near thing?” If so, he gave no indication. How bittersweet.
I am interested in expanding my list of readers’ email addresses. If you have no reservations about this, please provide yours to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will only use it to occasionally pass on things of interest and update you about my writing. All my contact information is given below:
Website and blog: markwildyr.com
The following are some buy links for CUT HAND:
DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/cut-hand-by-mark-wildyr-420-b
Thanks for being a reader.
The next blog at 6:00 a.m. on the first day of the succeeding month.