I can’t remember the last time I wrote fiction. But this one just sort of happened, like writing tends to happen — out of nowhere, without warning. So enjoy it and vote for it! Because writing is great, but winning is also great!
Are Those Hearts?
She knew she was in trouble the moment she tried on the sheer, wine-colored blouse at the store. “Hearts, for Christ’s sake! Hearts!” she murmured as she tugged at the hem, the collar, the sleeves.
Tiny, pink hearts.
She wasn’t entirely on top of things when it came to fashion. But she could see that the shirt fit perfectly. It draped over her soft shape, resting on her hips like a pair of warm hands. She stared in the mirror and stuck out her tongue at her reflection. “You are thirty-fucking-eight years old. Pull it together.”
She wore the shirt the morning after, when an entire day stretched in front of them, lazy, promising. She wore a jacket and a scarf against the cool air and drizzle, but felt the soft fabric against her skin all day as they drove through early morning fog and walked on cobblestoned, ancient streets, like tourists.
She tried to decide whether it was OK to hold his hand. She remembered how his hands used to fit hers. They were small hands for a man, but so perfect against her palm, just the right amount of space between his fingers for hers, his thumb resting on top of her hand, his elbow curving into hers as they walked. But that was ages ago.
Would they still fit like that?
Later, after climbing up to the castle overlooking the city and the river, after eating fancy chocolate, after talking about kids and spouses and jobs and all the people they used to know, they drove back to her hotel.
He rested his right hand on her thigh, drawing small circles with his pinky finger.
“What are you thinking?” he asked. “I want to know.”
“Nothing,” she said, but really, she was thinking about everything all at once, her mind spinning faster than he was driving on the autobahn. In the quiet of the small car she tried to contain it all.
In the hotel room she kicked off her shoes, took off her jacket and the scarf, her earrings, watch, the ring with the big, smooth stone on her middle finger.
He stepped closer.
“Nice shirt. Are those hearts?”
“Yeah, they are.”
It didn’t matter.
He pinched each button, pushed them through their holes. Crumpled the fabric right at her shoulders and pulled and tugged until the hearts tumbled and landed by her left ankle. He stepped over the shirt and put a hand right on her chest, his fingers leaving small, white marks on her flesh.
“It’s really criminal, the way you treat my clothes,” she whispered.
Then just a tiny push.
She fell back onto the bed and as she did she quickly held on to his shoulders—smooth, cool, perfect—so that they would fall together. So that she wouldn’t care about where her heart was at the moment—on the cheap carpet, under the bed, or right there, safely cradled in his hands.
This story as shortlisted in the MashStories flash fiction contest.