Trisha Ridinger McKee

CW: death, mental illness, and allusions to suicide

Where We Meet  |  Flash Fiction

I step lightly, softly, by now knowing my way through the paths and around the stones. I weave and step, glide and hop. And there you are. Waiting. Always here. Ever since that day, that fateful day… this is where you are. Where we meet.

I would say it was because you’re still upset, but you do not seem it as you immediately take me in your arms, and we dance through this makeshift garden. As I make my way to you, I have to look down or I’ll stumble, but in your arms, I only stare into your eyes. Into your soul.

You look well, my dear. As if none of that ever happened. As if I did not break your heart. Your eyes are pools of faint blue, like the farthest mountain in the distance. Your hair is jet black and wild, as wild as when we tousled in your bed that first time, searching… discovering….

I want to tell you I’m sorry. I want to explain. But I can tell from your persistent stare, that stronghold, that you want no words. You know. You understand. You whirl me around, and I almost lose my grip on the bouquet of flowers. I toss my head back and laugh, the sound echoing.

The sound of my own laughter jolts me, and I remember that we have to be quiet. No one can find me here. While you understand, everyone else judges. They disapprove. They threaten to keep me away.

They do not understand the intensity of our love. How it crosses all boundaries. They do not believe our love can survive. If they catch me here, they won’t listen. They’ll punish. They’ll cast their doubts and form a plan to keep me away.

Then what will I have? What will become of us? If I’m not able to visit you here, what then?

The questions are asked through the tears welling up in my eyes, and you slow your steps, releasing me. And finally, your voice washes over me and calms those fears. “It’s us, love. Us against them.”

“It’s me against them,” I argue softly, averting my gaze. But you won’t have it. You tap a finger under my chin until I have no choice but to glance up at you.

“Us. Always us.”

But how can there be an us? Secret visits, stolen kisses. People waiting to catch me here, to have a reason to take what little happiness I have remaining. All because of that day. All because you mistook what you saw.

Oh, how I wish you would have listened then! How I wish you’d listen now. We would not have to hide this, hide from others. I would not have to be satisfied with these short visits.

If only I had not told them about our dances, our talks. They are jealous that their love is not as powerful. They are not loved so immensely.

The longer we are together, the more I am looking over my shoulder, knowing it is just a matter of time. More of my attention is on the inevitable, not on you. I could visit at night, the darkness shrouding our secret rendezvous, but it is always crowded here at night. We are even less alone.

I want to tell you that I’ve planned a surprise. That I will be moving here. They can’t stop us then. I’ll be with you. I’ll have proven my love. But just as I start to speak, I hear their voices, their steps. I whirl around to warn you, but you are already gone.

And I know if they catch me, my plans will be more difficult to execute. They will keep a closer watch on me. They will poison me with their medicines, stripping me of my ability to visit you, to dance with you…

I see them now, their long shadows preceding their determined steps, and in my rush to escape, I almost forget to drop the bouquet of your favorite flowers onto your grave.

 

 

Trisha Ridinger McKee resides on land with her master fisherman hubby, hippie daughter, and hyper bulldogs. She blissfully works the day away at Penn State University, but at night, she lets out her dark side as she types and twists words to fit the story pounding in her head. Her work has been or will be shown in publications including Tablet Magazine, Night to Dawn Magazine, Oddville Press, Black Petals, and Fifty Word Stories.

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