Saturday, December 5, 2015

Guest Fiction Series: I Used To Love Her, Part 3

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Angelica Bryant. Enjoy!
To catch up on all parts click Here

I willed myself to speak.

“….Hello Chase.”

It was all a blur of guarded pleasantries and introductions.  Panicked questions flooded my mind as my head tried, desperately, to assess the situation and still allow me to maintain my balance.

Chase is getting married?
Why here, now, today? 
Chase is getting married!

He seemed relieved to see me; like all the ramblings and run on sentences spewing from his lips had been locked under pressure waiting on release.  He proceeded to pierce my ears with his new, happy, engaged truth.  He was relieved and I felt sick.  How ironic.

“Wow you look great!”
“How have you been?”
“What are the odds?”

… And then finally, way less enthusiastic and a little sheepish—

“What are you doing here?”

Of all questions!  Despite my racing pulse and sudden nausea I forced a smile and engaged in the usual superficial small talk.

Jessica.  That’s her name. “My fiancée and I…” I looked to Leslie who now subtly braced my arm as if she thought I’d tip over. 


Standing here with him now surrounded by tulle, silk, and European cut... The word seemed ill-fitting. 

While my head and heart spun, Leslie offered more congratulations and well wishes.  I endured curious glances from his groomsmen and a knowing look from his brother Justin. Monte took in the scene; curious I’m sure as to what prompted this soap opera drama he had the pleasure of watching unfold.  He’d be calling my sister for all of the juicy tea later on.  I managed my best pageant smile and began toward the elevator doors.

A blur… of emotions as connections and cords I thought to be long dead and severed weaved their way back home. Leslie nudged me softly while she waved goodbye to Chase & company and promised to call Monte later to “talk more”

I was losing it.

Chloe, he’s getting married. Get out and get it together.

The doors opened and Leslie stepped inside, I following 2 steps behind.  A soft brush on the wrist stopped me dead in my tracks.

“It’s really good seeing you Chloe.” His eyes said all of the things that his lips had failed to. 

I stepped into the elevator, ignoring my sister’s shrieks of confusion and tried to make sense of the utterly random, perplexing, emotionally conflicting events of the afternoon.

Why? Why???

“Chole, what the h*ll was that?? Chase is getting MARRIED!?  Are you OK?”

Sure.   I’m OK; or I will be.  Do I have another option?  I had thought about this man every day since I decided to call it off (and yes, it sounds just as crazy as I feel).  When I made the awful mistake of taking Malik back and trying to “make it work” I’d thought about him.  Even when I’d resolved that enough was enough and I needed to stop acting like a heartbroken teenager… I had still thought about him.  And here I was, fresh off of an unwanted impromptu reunion where I learned that he was happily engaged, doing what?


Am I really that woman?

“I’m OK Les. Seriously,” I said as the bell rang signaling that we had reached our floor, “I’m fine, that was forever ago… it’s not a big deal.”

I lied straight through my teeth and hoped my baby sister let it drop before I lost both my cool and my mind.

OK… I’m not convinced but I’ll let it go. For now. And only for your sake.”

Dramatics aside, I knew she was concerned, and I appreciated it; I appreciated her more for letting me off the hook for lunch—I needed to think. 

I gave Leslie a quick hug and was out of the elevator before she could protest. I made a bee-line for my car.  Just as I got in (under my sisters very wary side-eye) and cranked the ignition the notification alert on my phone went off.  A Facebook message…

From Chase. Of course it’s from him.  Of course

“I can’t lie, seeing you today was crazy.  Meet up to catch up?  I missed you CoCo.  Let me know”

Great.  Just great.  Now, what am I supposed to do with that?  It’s too much. 

What could he possibly have to say to me?

I laughed; I mean, I could think of about a thousand-and-one things he’d probably like to share.  Follow him down the rabbit hole of shoulda-coulda-woulda?  My heart craved the comfort; but I knew better.

I know better.

With that I drove off in search of a good wine and a good book to get lost in.

I ignored the message

With my mom back in the states we gathered for Sunday dinner at her home like usual. Midway through my second helping of mac-n-cheese Leslie dropped the bomb.

“So!  Did Chloe tell you?”

“Tell me what?” my mother asked.

I shot death rays at her with my eyes.


“We ran into CHASE at the boutique.... ”

My mother looked over to me. Concern & something else — amusement maybe — showed through her crinkled brow.

“Uh huh,” she retorted, “Chloe?”

Why did she have to bring him up?  I’d spent the week happily engulfed in work; my mind was too caught up on editing segments to think of my encounter with Chase (and I was more than grateful for it).   Plus…

My mother wasn’t the biggest fan of Chase. She always would tell me “passion like that only ends in heartbreak.” I was too caught up in sweet words and soft touch to notice (or even consider) that she could be right.

Or maybe I was too busy wishing & praying she was wrong.

“Momma I’m fine. Yeah we ran into him but it wasn’t a big deal. Leslie is just dramatic. ” She rolled her eyes.

“Well, I figured he’d pop up at some point."

Leslie recounted the details that I'd tried my hardest to forget.  She finished her tell all and I looked up to find both her and my mother waiting for my input.

"I'm fine.  We ran into him, said hello, and left.  It's not a thing; let's not make it into one..." I said to end the conversation.  I couldn't stand to sit through one of my mother’s lectures.  Not now.

My mom smiled, "Hmm…… Well OK then. Anyways, there’s a cobbler in the oven. Let me grab it…”

As soon as my mom was out of ear shot...

“Les, why??? You know she hates him!”

“She didn’t hate him…. she just thought y’all were crazy.  Insane in love. And when you weren’t anymore she knew what that did to you…"

“So you bring him up?”  I love my sister, but she watches way too much reality TV.
She sipped her iced tea; no answer.  Typical.  Create a mess and leave Chloe to clean it up.

“I’m gonna help Momma with desert,” I said as I pushed back from the table. “And THANKS!”

 She had her nerve. Of course my picture perfect sister with her picture perfect fiance and picture perfect impending nuptials had to open her big mouth to say something about my wrecked love life. I don’t know where she —

 “I hear you back there… come on in here, get those desert plates ”

My internal rant was interrupted by my mother’s welcoming voice. I grabbed the plates as she took the cobbler out of the oven. To my surprise she didn’t ask me about Chase. She didn’t ask me anything; just motioned for me to come over. I sat down on a stool at her island countertop and waited.

“You know what the secret to a perfect cobbler is?” she asked.

 I shook my head.

“It’s all in the timing.  Sure you put all this good stuff in there, but if you take it out too soon you’ll have a gooey mess. Leave it in too long it’ll dry your crust and scorch the bottom… ”

 I stared at her; looking for the answer to my life in piping hot peach cobbler. 

“My point being that regardless of your best effort… of yours or his best intention, if your timing is off it won’t work. And you can’t force it. Now I watched you come back to life after that thing with Malik and then with Chase..and then with Malik again,” my mother laughed.  “I just want you to make the best of this time, this life you have. Be smart baby.”

“He asked to see me Mom. To talk…” I blurted out.

“Well, what are you going to do?”

I slumped down in my chair. I felt like a kid being scolded.  My mother smiled.

“Oh Chloe, come on. It’s not that bad.  Of course Chase reached out. He’s a man; an engaged man. So be smart when you go meet with him. Day time coffee and keep it short.  Closure; not rekindling.  Ok?”

“Well I haven’t agreed to anything. I haven’t responded.  I wasn’t going to,” I replied.

“Just remember what I said. Get those,” she pointed to a pitcher of lemonade and forks that she’d set out. “Your sister is mighty quiet after putting her foot in her mouth,” my mom joked.

We returned to find Les browsing Pinterest and avoiding my eye contact.  Buttery crust & sweet brown sugar loosened us up as the conversation turned to breathtaking pictures of the Amalfi coast (courtesy of my traveling mom) and my new segment at work.  

I had needed this night with my family. And later on when Leslie apologized, I replayed my mother’s words of wisdom.

Be smart.

I sat on Momma’s porch, took in the warm spring night, glittering black sky and decided to hit send on a message I hoped I didn’t soon regret.

The reply came quicker than I’d expected.

Tomorrow. 11am. West egg cafe.

Be smart she’d said. I prayed that I would be.

Angelica is a creator/writer living & loving in Atlanta, GA 

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