(This short story just placed in The Soul Making Keats Literary Competition. I hope that you enjoy it!)
The heavy aroma of roasted garlic, sweet red peppers, the mingling of wine and beer, swirled with out-of-sync loud voices. All emphasized her need to escape that place, if only for a breath of fresh air. Anxiously lacing her fingers together, she looked around at the varying hues of orange, red and gold decor, a smoky mist drifting into the room from the famed open-hearth kitchen of their once favorite restaurant. Where was he anyway? How like him to avoid confrontation. How like him to put her importance for punctuality in a lesser space.
She stood and moved her chair toward the table, betting the raucous atmosphere in that room that he simply wouldn’t show. Gathering her purse to her shoulder, she went out through French doors to a bricked patio and the chilled air of an autumn night.
A man stood in the corner near a perfectly shaped spruce, the red glow from his cigarette offering the look of a miniature lantern. He glanced her way and nodded, then seeming to note her intrusion, he dropped the smoke and ground it into the brick with his shiny boot before leaving.
She shivered with the uncertainty of her future. They’d been together for three years. Good thing there had been no marriage, maybe. Or maybe there would have been a stronger commitment to that written document so easily dismissed when happily choosing a russet colored sofa, apricot draperies, and accessories in brilliant shades of red and orange.
He wasn’t coming, she was sure.
She glanced at the flattened white remains of the man’s cigarette, then walked to the patio’s edge where thick walls of waist high boxwood and holly grew, concealing a slight slope to the city sidewalk below, and the lights. They seemed alive, those lights, down there, among people holding hands who wanted to be together.
She turned around and glanced toward the French doors and her table, where she’d purposely left her tangerine silk scarf, a long ago gift from him. No one else would take her place with that vivid marker and a half filled glass of chardonnay. And he’d see that scarf and know where to find her, if he came at all.
She turned again, noticing the people below on the sidewalk, bodies close enough to feel the heat from one another. Her chest, her legs, her shoulders ached for that agreed familiarity.
She blinked back a few tears. She could turn and walk through those doors one last time. She could retrieve the scarf then walk to her car and drive home. Home? Without him? Or she could push her way through the thick foliage and try not to stumble toward the sidewalk below in her spindly high heels.
With a deep breath, she stepped toward the boxwood. She did not turn around to see his lanky form standing at the table, the tangerine scarf draped in his hands.