Writing Prompt: Red Shirt
Writing Time: 30 minutes
There was a spot of something on her shirt. A speck of food, maybe. It was too small to tell unless he drew closer. Her shirt was red and the spot was gray. Justin looked away. He wasn’t about to be accused of staring at Leah’s chest because of a tiny spot of who knew what. She would tease him for weeks. He tried to pay attention. She was speaking with as much grim seriousness as her lovely voice allowed.
Leah’s voice really was lovely. Justin could not think of a better word. Like she was on the verge of singing every time she spoke. It was distracting, just like that spot on her red blouse.
He moved his eyes to the tumbler of whiskey in front of him. She still filled his peripheral view and the whiskey was only background color to her movements. Lifting her wine glass to her dry lips. Pushing her hair off her cheek. She set her drink down too hard. The wine sloshed up the curve of the glass, a single drop escaping over the top to slide down toward the stem.
“Don’t you have any thoughts at all, Justin?”
He didn’t admit that. “When have you ever taken my advice?” He said it with a smile that reached neither his eyes nor his tone.
“I’m sure it happened once.”
She smiled now. That smile would be the end of him someday. Once it lit her face, he felt desperate to do anything, say anything, to stop it from disappearing.
“You can’t leave.”
Her mouth abandoned the smile to form a small O of surprise. Justin regretted it instantly. She’d want an explanation.
“It’s his dream job. I can’t ask him to stay.” Leah took another sip of wine.
“I didn’t say you should ask him to stay.” What was he doing? If the tumbler was empty he might have something to blame. His hand shook when he lifted his still full drink so he set it back down and pressed his fist into the polished wood of the bar.
Her almost-singing voice was sad. Or scared. Justin wasn’t sure which but he could not meet her eyes after she said his name that way. It sounded like a rejection wrapped up in a mere six letters, two syllables.
“Are you hungry? Let’s order some food.”
He shook his head. “I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” she whispered as she placed her finger tips under his chin to move his face in her direction. They both jumped when her phone rang. She dropped her hand.
“Damn it.” He reached his arm around her waist and pulled her to him, more roughly than he intended. She slipped off her barstool and stood, leaning her hip against his knee. Every coherent thought left his head as their lips met. Then one single reality reached him: she was kissing him back. Her hand was on the back of his head. Her smooth skin was warm against his end of day stubble. Justin started to stand as well when she broke the kiss.
Leah stayed in the curve of his arm, her eyes still closed. He held his breath. She laid her palms on his chest and he knew she could feel his heart pounding through his shirt.
“How long have you wanted to do that?”
He laughed quietly, placing a light kiss on her forehead. When she finally opened her eyes, he replied, “May 17, 2002.”
Confusion wrinkled her forehead for a moment then she smiled too. “The end of year party in your dorm?”
“The day we met.”
“15 years, practically.”
Her phone rang again and she stepped toward it. He groaned a little for the loss of her nearness.
“I have to take this.” Leah didn’t meet his eyes when she said it. She was chewing her lip the way he knew so well; the way she did when there was a decision to be made.