Today on the show, I rap at y’all about short fiction and how it can be valuable to your long fiction. Wha? Yes. I’ll break it down for you.
And now, part 4 chapter 5:
Megan’s morning return flight from Tulsa landed a half hour late, and walking up the jet-way, she shuddered from the post-flight grimy-skin feeling, even in her loose-fitting long sleeve CU t-shirt and baggy wide-leg Lucky jeans. After collecting her luggage and trekking to the parking lot, she sat in her car and checked her phone. A new text from Becca invited her to hike up Bear Peak as soon as she got back in town. She replied that she would meet her after going home to change.
The earlier missed calls from Brian still stared Megan in the face. She wanted to keep on ignoring them, but made a snap decision and found herself pressing the button to dial his number before she had even realized what happened.
She expected him to be upset, but the gravity of the hurt and then anger in his voice took her by surprise. Knife wounds of guilt turned to large gashes as he ripped into her in a tone she did not know he possessed. She lost hope for even a civil discussion of the past and understanding of what happened between them. When he hung up on her, a massive headache formed from the back of her head and worked its way all over her brain until the pulsing of the world brought tears to her eyes.
“I don’t know, it just kinda happened.”
“Were you drunk?”
Megan thought about this as she stepped over a rock, testing the snow for sure footing. She turned back to Becca and helped her over the obstacle. “Yeah, I guess. I had a few, but I knew what I was doing.”
“If you knew what you were doing, then how did it ‘just happen’?”
Megan looked out over the town of Boulder from the top of Bear Peak, at the end of their hiking trail in Chautauqua Park. Today, the blue of the sky was indistinguishable from still water and the view stretched endlessly. “That’s a good question.”
Becca removed a glove from one hand so she could twist the cap from her water bottle, and then offered it to Megan. “You tell anybody else about this yet?”
Megan drank some of the near-freezing water, and the cold stung her teeth. “Just my little sister. She seemed to think it wasn’t that much of a big deal.” Megan said.
“She’s still in high school. You can’t expect her to understand what it’s like to be married,” Becca said. “ So I guess the fact that we’re having this discussion instead of the other one means that Chris doesn’t know.”
“We haven’t talked since we got in that stupid fight,” Megan said. “Days and days that lasted, all over him wanting me to visit his mom. Stupid fight over nothing.”
“Are you going to tell him?” Becca said.
“What’s the point? He’s halfway across the world. He can’t do anything about it besides get upset and then get himself shot or step on some improvised exploding device, or whatever the hell they’re called.”
“What about Derek? I guess he wouldn’t be too happy if he found out, either.”
“He’d probably slap me in a chastity belt,” Megan said. “I’ve been in damage control mode pretty-much since it happened.”
Becca shook her head. Megan’s favorite thing about her best friend was that Becca made no bones about calling Megan on her horseshit. However, Becca’s critical analysis, in the form of a simple headshake, penetrated too deeply today. “I know what you’re thinking, Becca, and you’re right, I messed up. I started just flirting with him and then it got out of control. I was impulsive.”
“Sounds like it. I wouldn’t have expected you to be a sucker for a pretty face.”
Thinking about Brian’s smile or his kind eyes would have made her stomach flutter a few weeks before, but no longer. “Yeah, he was cute, and sweet, and a good kisser and all that. I don’t know what happened. That day at the laundry, I gave him my number, and I just started thinking about him. He’d be on my mind when I’d run, or go to the grocery store, or whatever. Like when I first met Chris, you know, all giggles and I wonder if he’s thinking about me right now and that whole stupid high school thing.”
“I’ve been there,” Becca said.
“I wasn’t thinking, and now I’m in this gigantic mess.”
“Sounds like a shitty place to be,” Becca said.
“Senior year in High School,” Megan said, “my best friend had a fling with my boyfriend. I swore I would never forgive her, or him. About a month before that, I almost had sex with another guy. I was afraid he was going to cheat on me, so I got him first. I was just projecting my own… guilt, or jealousy. I don’t know what you’d call it.”
“Did you come clean?”
“No, I never did. We split up but I never told him. I actually hadn’t even thought about that in a long time. Truth is, I’ve cheated on every boyfriend I’ve ever had. A few months ago, I kissed that boy Clay at the frat party, and Chris found out. He said he didn’t trust me. How could he?”
Megan looked down over the city with its tiny buildings and tiny cars and tiny people going about their banal lives, perhaps not even aware of the havoc they wreaked with the simple carelessness of their tiny selfish decisions.
Yes, a shitty place to be.