By Leslie Lindsay
What happens when your antagonist sees the love of his life at the grocery store? It’s been years and she’s all grown up with a kid…why, you stalk her of course! (image source: wikipedia. Retrived 8.16.13)
When the doors finally slide open revealing Annie and her shopping cart, my pulse quickens. I toss back the remainder of the beer and watch like a hawk drawn to its prey. Annie Fuckin’ Kelley. God, she looks good, even behind a kid-laden shopping cart. I swallow, part of me crazy-jealous of the man she married, who must be the father of this kid and the other part of me in awe, proud to say she was once mine. I watch as she struggles with the cart over a pothole, unsnap the kid from the front seat and place her in the minivan. If only I could help her. I would; I’d smile and say, “Looks like you could use a little help with that.” She’d startle because she’d recognize the voice; a familiar feeling would wash over her as a smile appears across her face, shy and demure. I might stuff my hands in my pockets, flash a sheepish grin as I got my wits about me, or I’d just reach forward and start loading her van with shopping bags. But what I’d really want to do is lean in a kiss her cheek.
She hands a stuffed puppy to the pudgy little fingers extended from the door and then goes around to the back hatch of the van where she transfers groceries. With each lift of a bag, I watch her sculpted muscles, eye her chest. Once she’s finally ready, I click the engine of the MDX to life. I let her pull out of the parking lot first, me slowly following behind.
We travel for several miles along Fox Creek Road, the dizzying array of farms intermingling with big box companies. I keep a close eye on her minivan from the safety and security of my own vehicle, one I know she’d never recognize as mine—it’s too new, too classy for her Steve memories.
Annie slows and makes a right turn onto a side road and then a left onto Prairiewood Drive. My hands tremble as I steer alongside the suburban community reminiscent of my youth. I take care to slow down from time to time as if reading a map, checking my iPhone, feigning misdirection. But I know exactly where I am going. The buzz from the beer numbs my brain as fear grips my chest, tight skeletal fingers reaching in, grabbing hold of my heart. I say her name; it comes out in a hoarse whisper, an assault (insult??) to my overactive imagination. Annie. Annie. Annie. It’s almost time, my little peach.
The van slows at Halverson Lane, a tree-lined street filled with everything domestic—kids, bikes, neighbors. I duck slightly, tipping the bill of my baseball cap lower and then pull over to the side of the road where I kill the engine. As much as I want to see the place Annie Kelley calls home, I can’t risk being seen. I release a held breath and tell myself I need to relax, to take it easy; this is no way to reconnect with my girl. All good things happen with time; man plans and God laughs.
Think, Steve. Think. I rub my chin and fumble for the pen. Quickly, I scribble out the street names onto the same scrap of paper I catalogued her family. I fold it into quarters and shove it into the lower pocket of my cargo shorts. How easy it would be to get out of the car, walk along the sidewalk and end at her home, the garage door still raised, an invitation to her life. I rake my hands through my hair as I consider other options: a friendly chat with the neighbors; perhaps walking door to door, a clipboard in hand, a story that I’m with the neighborhood association asking about summertime memories for the newsletter. But I realize my mind is confabulating, an unwelcome intrusion—they probably don’t even have a neighborhood newsletter.
After a few minutes, I start the car and spin out of the neighborhood. When I look at the date displayed on the dash, I am comforted that I’ll be back. Three more days, Annie. Three more days.
[this is an original work of fiction from my novel-in-progress. Please do not take as your own.]