Flash Fiction by Laura Besley
His scent carries on the warm evening air, floating towards me like a petal in the spring breeze. I haven’t seen him in twenty years, but it is definitely him.
Earlier this evening, getting dressed in my cramped bathroom, I couldn’t decide which side of smart/casual to fall on for this twentieth College reunion. I hadn’t been to the tenth as my second daughter, Jessica, had just been born. At the time it hadn’t seemed important either. Now, Dave gone, reconnecting had become important. I decided on a loose, floor-length, lavender-coloured dress, which accentuated my strong shoulders and toned arms. I slipped on a long beaded necklace.
The school gym – how clichéd – is decorated with long, stretching banners and glossy silver balloons. I realise, suddenly, that the college hosts this party every year, but for different graduates.
I pick up my name badge from the table just inside the door. It’s not like people won’t recognise me, I’m still too short, too freckly, with long wavy hair. I tried wearing it shorter and styling it every morning, but soon gave up on the impracticality.
“Janet!” a woman with a perfect bob calls out. “It’s Dana.”
“Of course,” I enthuse, falsely, “how are you?”
“Great! What’ve you been up to?”
“You know, the usual,” I take a sip of the lukewarm white wine. “Marriage, kids, divorce.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She isn’t. She tips the glass of juice allowing the light to catch the cluster of diamonds in their various settings on her left ring finger. Why did I talk myself into this? I drain my wine and say I need another. That’s an understatement.
And then he is here, in the building, in the room. My hand is shaking and I put the bottle down with a clunk. I turn and face him. Eerily unchanged. Smiling. God, we used to laugh so much together. He makes a beeline for me and I put my drink down, anticipating correctly that he’ll give me a hug. That smell.
“Janet! Look at you – you look great!”
“No, I don’t,” I slap his arm playfully, “but thanks for saying it. You look just the same.” I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I play with my beads.
“So do you.” The sudden silence hangs suspended in the air. The reasons we broke up, the pain, the years moving on.
“Is,” I look at my silver sandals, “is your wife here?” And just for a moment I pretend it will all work out. I’ll get my happily ever after.
“No, she’s at home with the boys. They’re ten and eight.”
“I’ve got two girls, twelve and ten.”
“You’re separated now?” he asks, knowing the answer already.
“Jon!” Someone whose face I don’t see claps his hands on Jon’s shoulder, and as Jon turns round to greet him, I quietly slip away.
Laura Besley is writer of fiction and non-fiction. She is currently writing a daily flash fiction. Posts ‘the best of the week’ appears every Friday as well as musings on life and living in Hong Kong at: