Short Story 6: Brief Lives
[Feels like I haven’t posted a short story in a while. Another group exercise although I can’t remember where the topic for this came from. I enjoyed writing this one. Hope you like it.]
“I’m so sorry,” Jamie apologised as he stretched his hand out to help the fallen woman.
“That’s ok, I should have been paying more attention,” the woman smiled up at him as she took his hand and pulled herself up.
The second her hand touched his open palm, Jamie felt a slight jolt and had to steady himself. In the next few seconds, he saw it all. Their first date was a cheesy affair at an Italian restaurant he knew well. They both had too much wine but were still restrained enough to save their fist kiss for their second date, a much less contrived meeting at a live act bar where an obscure band they both liked was playing. She made him laugh a lot and he couldn’t get over how soft her thick locks were when he finally got a chance to run his fingers through them.
When he met her mother and sister, he realised her sparkly eyes were one of many strong family traits and he prayed they would stay together long enough for him to be blessed with children who would share in that gene pool. On the day their first son was born, he realised that he had never loved her more than he did at that moment.
The word snapped Jamie back to reality.
“I’m alright honey. Mummy just had a little accident,” the woman said as she bent to pick up the little girl who had run across the busy shop floor towards her.
“Beth, are you alright?” A tall heavy set man in round unfashionable glasses chased after the girl and came to stand beside them.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. I just wasn’t looking…”
Jamie slipped away silently as the family reconnected and by the time the woman turned to look for him, he had entered the store he had been heading to before he collided with her. There goes another one, he thought with a sad smile on his face as he wondered what else he could have glimpsed if the little girl hadn’t interrupted his trance.
“Thanks for shopping with us today,” the girl behind the counter handed him his receipt with a cheeky wink after he had paid for his purchase.
Jamie tried to avoid her hand as he took the sheet of paper from her but it was clear that she meant to touch him. Perhaps that was her usual mode of innocent flirtation but for him it was a sensual assault. He knew he should have asked her to place the receipt in the bag because at her touch, he had a brief vision of the life he could have had with her.
Shrugging off the visual, he wondered if the day would come when he would meet that person whose ill-fated life with him he would not see. He knew that when he met her, she would be the one he had a chance of making a fresh start with. He sighed as he exited the shop and began his long walk home. For now all he had was hope and haunting memories of lives he could have lived.