Today’s Daily Prompt asks different things from the Fiction and Non-Fiction writers, and I must admit that I am intrigued and kind of tempted to write a post for both. But, for the moment, this is what I have got. It is a little bit of both in and of itself.
The elevator slams to a halt, knocking me off my feet as the lights flicker to a dull emergency setting.
She stares at me, unfazed, her gaze taking in all of the small space that surrounds us, but remains silent. She doesn’t need to say a word – I can see the judgement in her eyes.
“So,” I say, breaking the ice that has settled over us since she entered, “It’s been awhile.”
She rolls her eyes and folds her arms over her chest in the critical way that I know all too well. Her lips purse as she sucks in her cheeks, biting back the remarks on the tip of her tongue.
“How’ve you been?”
“Better,” say announces and her voice bites through the air.
“Feeling better, or you’ve been better?”
“Well, you see, on one hand you could be doing well – better than you were before – and on the other you could be telling me that you’re going through a rough time – that you’ve seen better days.”
“Why must you always do that?”
“Explain like that. Talk down to me as though I’m some kind of child.”
“It got you talking though.”
And there are the pursed lips again, the biting remarks that are being withheld. The silent treatment. I resign myself to it.
“You look good,” I try again.
“You look like shit.”
“I mean it though. The years haven’t done you well.”
Her eyes linger over my rounded face, my belly, taking in the scars and bruises and stretch marks on the way, while mine linger on the same spots seeing the smooth skin, the clean lines and the beauty masked by layers of ill-fitting clothing.
“So do I,” I admit. I had said it as a conversation starter, but it dawns on me that I really do. Mean it that is. “Youth suits you.”
She tries to hide it, but I see the smile flit across her face, her shoulders visibly loosening and her arms unfolding.
“What happened,” she relents after a time.
“I don’t know,” I admit. “Life I guess.”
And with the simple sentence, the tension returns. I can see the conflict going on in her mind, can practically read it in her eyes.
“How did you… How come you… How could you let it get this far?”
She screams it, letting go of her anger, her sense of betrayal. And it is my turn to break.
“I wasn’t alone you know,” I shout into the open air. “It wasn’t a case of me against you. You contributed. You set the clocks in motion. Without you,” I spit, “I wouldn’t be here.” The anger flows through me and I am surprised at how easily it comes – the years of pent up rage releasing themselves into this space that lies between us. “You, with your impossible plans and your ideals that wouldn’t budge. You… You broke me.”
She stares wide-eyed, both of us catching our breath, the tension built to the point of breaking and broken at last.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers.
“So am I.”
We turn together towards the small mirror, identical tears lining brown eyes unchanged by the years, the familiar smudge of green that comes with our emotions sparkling brightly, making us smile as ever.
The whirring of the engine starts again and the lights flicker back to their full brightness. I look up with surprise, half blinding myself in the process, and when the dancing spots subside, I find myself alone once again with only my regret-filled mind for company.
Here are the other contributors to the challenge so far: