This was better than the movie.
Granted, the movie had sucked. The explosions, such as they were, were, well, explosive. But there was no dialogue between them. The plot was non-existent. He didn’t honestly know why he had gone to see it, except as an excuse to be anywhere but home for a few hours.
Josh took another pull on his cigarette and leaned back against wet brick of the movie theater wall, watching the couple in front of him.
“I can’t believe you made me sit through that piece of crap,” she said.
The damp sidewalk deadened the tapping of her heels as she paced, but it made a staccato beat nonetheless.
“Hey,” he said, shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his leather jacket. “You’re the one who wanted to go out…. Do something fun.”
In contrast to her constant movement, he stood stone-still, feet planted in the concrete as though they had grown there.
“That was not fun,” she fumed.
“That was the opposite of fun…. That was,” she dug for words. “…. Whatever the opposite of fun is.”
“Clever,” he said, glaring at her.
She whipped around to face him, glaring back.
“Look,” he said. “You’re the one who wanted to go out, so we went out.”
“This isn’t going out,” she said. “This is a shitty movie…. This is a pathetic excuse for going out.”
“Well, then, what did you want?”
“I wanted…. I wanted romance,” she scowled. “A nice dinner someplace. You never take me out anywhere.”
His voice dropped low and Josh had to strain to hear it.
“You know I’m trying to save money, Babe,” he said. “You know I’m trying to be careful.”
“Be careful for what?” her voice went up in pitch, becoming squeaky. “So you can get a stupid new car?”
“It’s not just any new car,” he said.
She looked him over from top to toe, as if trying to burn him with her eyes.
If Josh hadn’t been focusing so much on their argument, he might not have noticed it. But he was watching. And he did notice, as some small piece of silver detached from her neck, flowing fluidly down until the chain pooled at the ground at her feet.
“That stupid car is more important to you than I am,” she said.
The words were quiet, but clear.
“Maybe it is,” he said. “Maybe because the car won’t criticize the way I dress, or the movies I pick or the food I eat, or tell me three-hour-long stories about its friends. The car won’t complain because I don’t take it out enough or tell me that my shoes don’t match my belt.”
“Fine,” she said. “I hope you and your car are very happy together.”
Josh watched as the two stomped in their separate directions, almost disappointed that the argument was over that quickly. It had seemed like it was just winding up and then it fizzled so quickly.
Still better than the movie.
He was about to head home himself when he remembered the sparkle of silver and walked over to the sidewalk where she’d been standing. It was a pendant on a chain, he saw.
He picked it up delicately, which was the only way you could pick it up, really…. The silver chain was almost as delicate as a spiderweb. The pearl-cluster pendant hung heavily from it.
It was beautiful. And even someone who knew nothing about jewelry could see that it was old. Antique. Or vintage…. Whatever word it was people used on Antiques Roadshow.
He let the silver-and-pearl pool in his hand, staring at it, willing it away.
It was late. And it was dark. And it was rainy. And he was the kind of tired when you want nothing more than to go home and curl up in your own bed.
But the small pool of silver in his hand wouldn’t let him.
She deserved to have it back. He knew she’d miss it…. Anyone would miss something so beautiful.
With a heavy sigh, he looked around.
The crowd that had flowed out of the theater – what had seemed like only a few minutes ago – had dispersed. Her sort-of-ex-boyfriend had gone.
And… there she was. Or he thought it was. A few blocks away a female figure clip-clopped under the neon shimmer of the streetlights.
With a grunt, he forced himself into a run, trying to catch up. It wasn’t terribly far, and soon she was within earshot.
“Miss!” he called. “Miss! If you could just come back for a ….”
Damnit. Smoking did not do good things for his lung capacity.
But at least he’d caught her attention. She turned around for a moment, glanced at him…. And broke into a run.
Damnit. Could this be any harder?
He put on a little speed, trying to catch up.
How the hell could she run so fast in those heels?
“Wait!” he called. “Miss! Wait!”
That was all he could manage.
She turned big, panicked eyes back at him and put on a little more speed.
Finally, just barely, he managed to catch up, landing a hand on her shoulder to get her to stop. Perhaps he should’ve been expecting it, but it still came as quite a shock when she swung around, kicking him hard in the shin.
“Leave me alone!”
Half-collapsed on the ground and panting, he tried to catch his breath enough to form a complete sentence. He failed.
“I just…. You…. I…”
Not able to find the air or the words, he unclenched his fist and held his palm up for her to see.
“Oh,” she said.
“It fell off… before,” he managed. “I …. Thought you’d want it back.”
“Oohh,” she said, as understanding landed. “I just…. I thought.”
“I know,” he said, trying to pick himself up off of the ground.
She pulled the necklace out of his palm, cradling it in her own hand.
“Thank you,” she said. “This belonged to my grandmother. I’d hate to lose it.”
“You’re welcome,” he said, pulling himself up and managing to lean against a parking meter.
She smiled at him.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thanks a lot.”
She reached up, clasping the necklace back around her neck.
“Have a good night,” she said, as she turned to walk away.
“Wait…” he said. “That’s it? That’s all.”
“I said thank you,” she answered with a shrug. “What more do you want?”
He watched her walk away, clip-clopping into the distance.
“If I were your boyfriend, I’d like my car better, too,” he said, hobbling off to find his own way home.
500-1000 words * original male character * with a sense of obligation
Prompt Courtesy of:
Image courtesy of: