Friday Flash Fiction: Paths

Last week I went up to the wire, if you missed it then you can read it here, and this week is not much better. I’m not sure about it, feedback is always welcome, but here it is, enjoy:

Paths
By Neil Beynon

“You haven’t said anything?” he said nervously. His lean figure rested with one arm on the broken edge of a stone. Despite his nonchalant stance his fingers betrayed him as he idly traced a never-ending pattern across the rock’s rough edge.

She stood, unmoving, eyes locked on him, her face set as if, like the stone, she’d been weathered that way over millennia.

“You said you loved me,” she said. “Not two weeks ago.”

Another silence.

He looked at the grass unwilling to meet her eyes. He felt naked, exposed. Then his ego rallied; a nugget of anger in a whirlpool of confusion.

“Yes,” he answered. “I did. And I meant it but I can’t have you, can I?”

She stepped forward. Emotion danced across her face and in that moment it seemed anything might happen. Then she stopped.

“So you take the first thing that wanders your way?”

“No,” he said. “It just kind of happened.”

“It just kind of happened?” she repeated.

He nodded.

“And what if I said it was over, I was free? What if I leant over and something just happened? Right now, right here. What if?”

He looked up at her. It was back, whatever it was; it hung in the air above them, an unseen thing hovering over them with its monstrous wings of possibility, a myriad of paths for the taking. He stepped forward; they were just a few feet from each other now: it would be so easy.

He stopped.

“But that isn’t the case, is it? You aren’t going to end it, are you?”

More silence. It wasn’t long. Empires did not rise and fall in the pause. No one died. Yet something snapped, something flew into the gathering storm clouds never to return, something neither had been aware was there until it finally left for good.

“No, it isn’t,” she conceded.

He nodded slowly and turned his back on her, made to leave.

“We’ll still be friends?” he called over his shoulder.

“Of course,” she said.

He threw a faint smile at her then he was moving across the fields, his long legs carrying him swiftly into the background.

It was the first and last lie she ever told him. On the other side of the standing stones her own world was calling, it was time she answered.

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