Flash Fiction Challenge #2 (I Didn’t Go There)

12-ParisRules of the Flash Fiction Challenge:

  1. Each entry has to follow a set prompt
  2. Each entry has to be 1,000 words or fewer
  3. Each entry has to be written specifically for this challenge

Getting back to my roots has been an amazing experience already as I’ve begun to dive into this Flash Fiction Challenge. My first story was well-received, and even more important than that is the feeling I got from writing it. It’s interesting to have a topic, a prompt, that I have to work with and through, and to be able to adjust it to myself and my own style.

One of the primary reasons for my completion of the Flash Fiction Challenge is to stretch my boundaries, to dig deep into my writing resources and come up with completely different pieces of work for each challenge. I also want to keep each entry fresh, so I’m challenging myself to only look at the prompt right before I begin writing the particular challenge, then to create the piece all in one sitting.

The more difficult the challenge, the more ultimately fulfilling it will be for me in the end. To that purpose, here is entry #2: I Didn’t Go There.

I never ended up going to Paris, not with Moira anyway, which according to her means I never went to Paris. Whenever I want to bring it up I have to remind myself that I didn’t go, that three months of my life never happened. I have to shift the whole of time, to stitch together the frayed ends on either side of those months, for my own sake, and for the sake of harmony. And even though it was five years ago, the time between then and now has not gotten any easier.

There is jealousy, and then there’s whatever Moira is, but I don’t question it because questioning always leads to yelling, and I’m for smoothing everything over. That’s why I never ended up going to Paris, because to admit that would be the beginning of the end, and I’m not ready yet to say goodbye to the woman I can’t help but love. There’s just something about her that makes me want to lie early and often, to cover over all my rough spots so that I come out smooth enough for her and her world.

She couldn’t go that summer, which is what started all of the issues in the first place.

“So I know you have this amazing opportunity, but you can’t go,” she told me in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Glad to know we can talk calmly and rationally about it,” I said, my ire starting to rise, a sure sign that I was approaching the invisible line she had drawn.

“I’m just saying,” she said in that lilting voice of hers that drew me in from the start, “that you don’t really want to go without me.”

It was a statement, not a question, but I heard it the way that suited my rationalization. Truth be told, yes, I did want to go, with or without her. It was a huge opportunity for me to further my career, and to be in a truly international city at the same time, two things that weren’t exactly mutually exclusive. Yes, I was with Moira, but who was to say we would even be together past the summer, regardless of if I went.

If I had only held a crystal ball back then, or at least if I had known I would have to alter the events of that summer for more than five years, maybe then I wouldn’t have gone. Maybe. But I had no such talisman of the future, so I went, and when I got back I had to hurriedly re-script things.

First it was the photographs, of which there were many. I downloaded them to a flash drive and buried it deep in my file drawer, officially erasing every shred of Parisian memories from our shared camera. Next came the clothes, which she claimed smelled of France, of beaches that I never visited, of tours I never took, and of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. It was the only time she admitted that I went. Once the clothes were burned the trip essentially went up in flames as well.

Paris became our Bermuda triangle, and it has been so ever since. June, July, and August of five years ago have passed into the ether, have tumbled down the rabbit hole with Alice and left me breathless. My mind maintains that I went, that I enjoyed myself, that there were several women I made breathless love to on the trip, but that’s the only place any of those memories will ever exist, in my mind. Which is the one positive from the whole thing, the denial of the thing, that I need no excuse for anything I did while I was over there. While I wasn’t over there.

“You have got to go with me to Marshall’s,” Moira told me this morning while we were getting ready in our bathroom. Her hair was securely in a towel bun, and I was naked, preparing to get into the shower.

“What’s so special about Marshall’s?” I asked, not wanting to go shopping again.

“It’s not about Marshall’s,” she whined. “It’s about being with me, about wanting to spend time with me. I’m your girlfriend, and we haven’t been out in ages.”

“It takes two,” I said quietly, but she heard me anyway.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, getting heated.

“It means you should have let me go to Paris,” I spit out, and five years tumbled out along with it, five years of regret, of pain, and of a sublimation I hadn’t thought I was capable of, all out like so much vomit. “It means you should have given up something for me just once, that you should have come with me instead of standing firm against it.”

“But you never went!” she practically screamed in my face, her own getting red, the towel slipping from her hair.

“Yes, I did, and it was glorious” I said, getting into the shower and pulling the door closed behind me. I could see her silhouette through the glass shaking with sobs, but I couldn’t get out to comfort her. The time for comforting was past, along with the time for denial.

“You asshole,” she said under her breath, but I heard it just the same. There was a rustling on the other side of the glass, her towel dropped to the tile floor, and she was gone. I assumed she was heading to Marshall’s without me.

But it simply didn’t matter anymore. Our relationship was toxic. It always had been. I just hadn’t seen it because I had been so preoccupied with forcing Paris from my mind, for her sake. I hadn’t seen it because I wanted us to be something we were never meant to be. I turned on the water to drown out the cacophony in my own head. And to remember Paris instead.


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