Blogbattle Tuesday folks! This week's Keyword: DIVE. My chosen Genre: DRAMA. To read more stories by other Blog Battlers or even to participate yourself, do so by clicking HERE.
The place was a real Dive. It smelled of vinegar and stale potatoes with a side of old, soggy cardboard box. Nevertheless it managed to keep a full house.
Claudette didn’t understand it. She didn’t understand any of it. Why he’d chosen such a lousy place to meet or why he’d contacted her of all people in the first place. To bide her time, she scrolled the sticky laminated menu only to settle on a lack luster cup of coffee before it was all said and done. Black coffee was always too deep and dark to really notice anything floating in it. It also gave the not so certain promise she wouldn’t walk away with a case of food poisoning.
She used the blunt end of her writing pen to stir in several packets of sugar, not daring to ask the waitress to return for a spoon. Perish the thought she could actually have a spoon. Sucking the bittersweet liquid from the pen, her eyes looked up and caught his.
Her belly gave a wild flop and her throat constricted. Chocking on saliva the pen dropped from her lips and landed on the sticky tile floor where it was to remain for the rest of its days.
He, Jared, managed to push through the crowd and get to her in time to awkwardly pat her on the back, the uncertain glint in his eye let it be known that he wasn’t certain that he should touch her.
“Thank you,” Claudette managed to squeak out, shifting in her chair. Had she been on the West end of town, she would have made quite a scene. Here, no one seemed to notice…or care.
Jared gave a curt nod before running his hands through his shaggy brown hair. His sliver-gray eyes stared into hers for just a moment before falling away.
Claudette couldn’t help but notice that that look of his hadn’t changed after so many years. Truth was he hadn’t seemed to change in the all the years that she hadn’t seen him. Rumors of his hard living were obviously just that. He looked only a few years older than her 23.
They sat in silence for a while. The waiter had not returned even though the crowd seemed to ebb a bit, leaving some much needed breathing room.
“You been doing alright?” Jared finally spoke his head shooting up from its downward position. Staring at the top of his head Claudette felt like she was looking at a chastised child. He had done many things wrong, too many for her to recount or even want to remember. But it was in the past, life had moved forward even though he was still stuck in yesteryear. Maybe guilt had locked him there, physically and mentally. Shame was evident that he hadn’t moved emotionally either.
“I’m doing really well. I graduated last spring. I majored in photography.”
Jared’s eyes widened, a hint of a smile played at the corners of his mouth. “Like me?”
“You made an impression.” She allowed herself to smile even though her insides burned and her heart ached at thinking of the ‘good times’ they had shared. Jared hadn’t given many of those. Addiction was the culprit or maybe it was the fact she just wasn’t enough to make him sober up.
As if he’d read her thoughts he extended his hand toward her, his palm up with a plea. “It wasn’t you, Claudette. I wasn’t good enough, but,” His square jaw ticked, a brooding look upon his face. He was still quite handsome with his rustic lumberjack style. Claudette wondered if he were single. If the woman in his life knew where he was, what she’d say if she saw them together?
Claudette swallowed down a panicked knot. If her mother knew where she was, that she was with Jared, she’d have her grandparents disinherit her. Jared’s presence back then had put everyone through hell. She shook away the fear and placed her hand in his. She still loved him. That would never change. She needed him to know that. The way his other hand enclosed around hers and his eyes turned to water, she was pretty certain he knew.
They lingered for an hour or so catching up, sharing plans. The sun was going down and the streets beginning to fill. “You should probably head back home.” Jared said, standing. Claudette followed suit.
He stared at her as if studying her for the last time, his knuckles caressing her cheek like he used to do. Then he pulled her into a tight hug and kissed her crown. “I love you,” His voice trembled. “You are the best thing to ever happen to me.”
“I love you too.”
Jared finally, but reluctantly pulled away, the cedar scent of his cologne embedded in her clothes and hair. Not even the odors from the diner would melt it away. Her mother would know with whom she’d been, but Claudette didn’t care. She believed he’d changed.
“Maybe we can do lunch sometime soon, how’s that?”
Jared quickly turned from somber to beaming. “I’d like that a lot.”
“Then its a date then. I’ll be in touch.” She said as his smile slipped.
“You know what? I don’t want you to get into any trouble seeing me. Your mom,”
Claudette patted his arm. “Don’t worry about that. She’s still angry, but more than that she still loves you. Fifteen years and she still hasn’t filed, Dad. I’ll call you.” She said, kissing him on the cheek and heading towards home.