This is a response to Jason Cantrell’s excellent writing prompt found here: http://writingpossibilities.com/2013/10/23/writingprompt/. I love this prompt and the story of how he came across it.
I was 22 and it was a Saturday. I’d been through two breakups in a year (one I’d suffered, and one I’d started), and I was in a perpetual state of horniness and annoyance at the world. I was scowling at a margarita when I felt, rather than heard, him slide onto the barstool next to mine. I turned almost reflexively and heard him draw in his breath, as if I’d startled him. I looked into his warm brown eyes; to this day, they’re the part of his face I remember most clearly.
He smiled at me and those warm eyes crinkled at the corners. “I love you,” he whispered.
“What?” I thought I’d heard him wrong. I half-turned to look behind me in case he’d been speaking to someone else.
“I love you.” His voice was soft. No one had ever said those words to me quite like that: sweetly, confidently, as though there were no doubt of their being reciprocated. “I’m flying to Chicago next weekend. I bought you a ticket. Come with me.”
He sat there, smiling and waiting for my response. I was young; I was estranged from my family; there was no one at home waiting for me. I opened my mouth to say yes, yes, of course, I’ll go. But in that instant, all the horror stories I’d ever heard about girls who strayed, girls who wandered, girls who went into the night with strangers and never returned, echoed in my mind.
“No! No, I’m not going anywhere with you. I don’t know you!” I shrieked. Grabbing my purse and coat, I ran across the bar, to the door, out onto the street. He sat there, looking at me, his smile replaced by a look of bemused acceptance. I never saw him or heard his voice again.
And to this day, after marriage and children and all the things a good girl is supposed to want–to this day, I regret not going.