The carriage was full, travelers standing with shoulders, backpacks and elbows pressed, a carnival of scarves and beanies as the game-attending crowd created jostling hues of their allegiances.
With the approach of their stop, the ebb and flow of chatter reached a crescendo of deafening laughter and chanting, morphing the game crowd into a single organism, leaving Elise feeling even more alone on what was for her a milestone journey.
Replaying the moment in nightmares and obsessive thoughts of waking hours, she hadn’t imagined the station being a welcome sight, but with the crowd’s departure, there was momentary relief in tears no longer forced back by a levee of laughing eyes, blurring the tracks and trees like rain streaking the window, her sobbing gasps filling the void they’d left as the train crawled past the spot marked by cellophane and ribbons of a bouquet long gone.
Looking back over my shoulder, I saw its slow, menacing advance drawing a dark cloak over everything in its path. There was nowhere to hide in the vast desert, confirmed by the booming voice calling an end to this high stakes game of hide-and-go-seek. Raising my arms, I fell to my knees in despair, but also relief that I would no longer have to run.
Peter was always on time, so it struck Elaine as strange that he didn’t turn up for his weekly session. She’d already seen the next client, and now sat waiting, wondering what had kept him from the appointment he had been faithful to for the past two years. They were making good progress. He was now able to make eye contact when he spoke to her, but there was still a fear that rose up in him and made him twitch and draw back if ever she took more than a step toward him once he sat down on the plush beige armchair where he unburdened all the troubles of the week. He was possibly one of Elaine’s most difficult clients- in the sense that she still, after all this time, didn’t have a sense of where his fears were coming from. Without that, she knew there could be no intimacy between them. It seemed everything frightened Peter. Sitting now in the armchair, she felt a strange protrusion digging into the side of her right thigh. Feeling about and contorting in the chair, she dug out a wristwatch which was wedged between the arm rest and the firm cushion base. The glass face had come off clean- not leaving any sharp edges, and the arms were bent, with the minute and second hand reaching out as though to escape their fate of turning round and round in time, all the time. She recognised the watch. How could she not? It had been two years of seeing him compulsively pull back the long white cuff that covered his wrist while clearing his throat and attempting to discretely check the time. It wasn’t so discreet when he did it every 5 minutes for the whole 50-minute session. How did he get by since, without the watch? Did he have a spare? Was this why he was…Her thoughts were cut off then with a knock on the door. “Come in” she said. It was Peter. “I, I, I have something to tell you” he blurted out, walking toward her almost at a leaping pace. She stood up, but just as she did, he’d already advanced too close for her to move away from the chair. As she was about to fall back into the chair, Peter’s arms closed in on her, an awkward hug that pushed her backward, with Peter’s tall frame following suit, tipping the arm chair, Elaine and Peter onto the floor. His face was only millimeters away from her and she noted the strong sent of peppermint on his warm breath. Turning her face away from his, she said, “Peter, you are late, I’m sorry, we are out of time”.
Write a story that contains all three of these elements: A broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far (prompt from this site).