One of my favorite bloggers, Slouching Mom, issued a challenge last week. Write a story in 100 words. I did my best. Really, I did. But I came in somewhere around 260. Yeah. I'll keep trying.
She'd agreed to meet him for coffee. Why? Curiosity, she supposed. Justification: it was like a business lunch. Coffee, for God's sake. What could be more benign?
But once he arrived, she knew it wasn't benign at all.
Outside the lecture hall, he looked different. Smaller. A tiny piece of Kleenex clung to the whiskers on his chin. His lips were dry, his eyes pink and watering.
Still, her heart pummeled her ribcage. Here they were, sipping Americanos together. After all this time.
She tried not to think of his wife. Her grades. Her parents back home. She focused, simply, on his hands wrapped around his mug, on his chapped knuckles. And she swallowed hard, her brain already spinning--like a caterpillar spewing out silk--as she imagined what lay ahead on that gray afternoon.
He talked about the wind, a paper he was publishing, his assistant professor. His tone was more condescending than it had seemed in his office (as he played with a Rubik's cube and, over the top of it, flirted).
Her coffee wasn't even cold yet. But she felt her arms snaking into her jacket, realized she was groping around for her gloves.
"Stop talking," she said, suddenly powerful, suddenly, she knew, right.
Startled, he looked at her.
She wanted to reach out and pick that stupid bit of tissue from his jaw. Instead, she said, "My roommate's gone for the weekend. Let's go back to campus."
Because campus, it turned out, was only place this would work.