What Might Have Been – A Quick Fiction Story

A tear rolled down her cheek as she was sat there, alone, coffee in front of her.  She had the window seat in the small coffeeshop, and she quickly wiped the tear away, angry with herself for allowing it.  She resolved to keep the rest from flowing, and she took a sip of coffee to relieve her distress.  It didn’t help.

Five years.  It had been five years, and now it had come to this.  Alone, watching the snow drift down on another dreary Pittsburgh winter day.  She loved this city, had stayed here long after many of her friends had gone.  She enjoyed every season, even the winters.  She had dreamed of raising children here, of showing them the–

But no.  This wasn’t a good train of thought right now.

She forced herself onto another track, tried to focus on the book she had brought.  It talked of Italian cooking, had recipes from the southern part of Italy.  She loved Italian food, for some reason.  Thanks to her blonde hair and big blue eyes, she was pretty sure she didn’t have any ancestors from the Mediterranean, but she adored pasta and olives and good crusty bread and all the other wonders of the cuisine.  She had loved learning to cook various recipes, from Tuscany, from Naples, from glorious Roma itself.  She had planned, in her mind, family dinners, where she would surprise her–

No.  Stop.  Again, don’t think of that.  Think of something else.

A man walked in, wearing a Penguins jersey, and she wondered if the Pens would get to the championships this year.  The Steelers hadn’t done too well, and the Pirates seemed like a hopeless cause at this point.  Like most pittsburghers, she was a fan of all the region’s sports teams.  Her blood was probably black and gold.  She knew her children would be fans, raised that—

She choked then, and rose from her seat, fleeing blindly into the night.

The barista came over a little later, found the piece of paper sitting on the floor, picked it up.  Seeing the hospital logo on the top, she scanned it in case somebody might need to come back for it.  Then she closed her eyes and said a grateful prayer she had been able to have children, even as her heart broke for the poor woman who never would.

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A New Story

Not my best, but scribbled on a Sunday at Starbucks.  Anne LaMott was right – crappy first draft.

Comments welcome.

            She sat in the café, her hands wrapped around the hot cup of tea, and a tear rolled down her cheek.  It was cold outside and she shivered – the scarf around her neck was of no help in reducing the chill, nor was the pink cap with red hearts on it.  This was probably the worst Valentine’s Day she could remember.

            It wasn’t that she was alone, nor was it the loneliness of being in this city, of being in a place far from home.  That was nothing new either, and really, she didn’t mind travelling.  She knew she always had a place full of warmth and love to return to, a family that truly cared about her.

            No, it was for him that she was crying.  They had been lovers once, long ago, and each had moved on.  She had moved on to a literary career, writing articles for magazines, even a few chick-lit books, and finally several full length novels.  She had made a good living, and she knew that she lived a good life.

            But him, that was another story.  He had been a lover of many women, had been a traveler, an inveterate gourmand.  But he had never found his role in life.  He had wandered from place to place, never truly finding a home.  He had never known the joy of a child’s love – although he certainly had a few scattered here and there.

            He had been a dilettante, always dabbling in some new subject, participating in some new get rich quick scheme.  On the occasions when they worked, he had gone through the money quickly, spending it on women and dissolute living.  He had enjoyed all kinds of experiences, from skydiving to rafting, to backpacking through foreign countries.  When he ran out of funds he had friends all over that would send him money.  She herself had, on several occasions – it was to his credit that he had remained friends with many of the women he had bedded.

            It had never been a one night stand thing.  He had carried on extended affairs with each of his conquests.  For several months he made them feel like the most special woman on earth – and eventually, as the flames of passion faded, they came to see that he would leave, and eventually even the most infatuated woman had to let him go.

            The letter had come on a Friday – he was bedridden in a small town, and could she please come – he needed money to pay for his treatment and he needed someone that cared.  So she came, astonishing herself, and by the time she arrived, he had died of complications.  There was nothing left but the clothes he had worn into the hospital, and a note, to her, dictated to the nurse.  “Please take me home.”

            The body had been cremated, the little urn sitting on the dresser in her hotel room.  And now she cried, because she was unable to fulfill his last request.  For she didn’t know what place he could ever call home.  The best she could do was to scatter his ashes to the winds and hope that it would bring him peace, wherever he was.

Scott