Writer’s Bootcamp, Day Two

grocery-store

The One That Got Away: You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day — the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away”.  What happens?

I bumped into Fred at the grocery store one Valentine’s Day afternoon.

More accurately, Fred bumped into me — by placing a tentative hand on my shoulder and going, “Hey, you!”

“Hey…you,” I said slowly, with a big, awkward grin.

“It’s Fred!  Fred from high school!  Remember?” Fred took a step back and swung out his arms, presenting his torso — as if I’d better remember his torso than his face.

Sadly, his torso was even more unrecognizable than his face.  Both were long past their prime, weirdly bloated and slightly misshapen.  His shirt strained as it stretched over his stomach, hanging on for dear life where it tucked into his pants.

“Of course.  Fred.  How could I forget?” I said, my awkward grin slowly morphing into a grimace.

“I knew you’d remember me,” Fred said with a self-assured shrug. “No one forgets the one that got away.”

“Come again?” I said with a cocked eyebrow.

“We were high school sweethearts!  I was the one who got away.  Biggest heartbreak of your life.”

“Um… okay,” I said slowly. “We dated for 4 months.  You dumped me to get with my best friend.”

“Yes, but it was a great love, was it not?” Fred pressed. “The kind that makes you always look back and wonder, ‘why?'”

“A great love?” I repeated. “It was just a high school relationship.”

“But I redefined what love was in that short time!”

“You spent the entire 4 months nitpicking everything I did,” I reminded.

“To be fair, all guys think it’s annoying when a girl wears flip flops with jeans.”

“Ah…” I looked down at my grocery basket, making a mental note of what I was still missing.  Milk, cheese, bread, bagels…

“So!” Fred yelped. “How’ve you been?  What are you up to tonight?”

“I’ve been good,” I replied. “Just… grocery shopping.”

“Oh, what a sad way to spend your Valentine’s Day,” Fred cooed.

“Uh, I’m going home after this…and making dinner…for me and my husband…” I stated slowly.

Fred jaw went slack.

“Oh!  Husband!  So, uh…no lonely night on Valentine’s Day?”

“Nope.”

“So I see…” Fred trailed off.

“And, uh, and you?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah…busy night for me.  Totally.” Fred raked his hair back with his hands. “I mean, I’m a lady’s man.  Breaking hearts left and right.”

“Well, good for you, I guess.”

Fred stared at me in silence.

“Well, it was great seeing you!” Fred broke into a wide smile, touching my shoulder again. “And if you ever want to get together and maybe reminisce on the old times, I’m available.  Whenever, wherever, you say the word and I’m there.”

“Sure…”

“Do you still have my number?  I can give you my number,” Fred offered. “Oh, who am I kidding!  Of course you do!  That’s how lost loves work, right?”

“Yeah, sure.  Of course.”

“Well, try to have fun tonight,” Fred said, touching my shoulder. “I’ll be thinking of you.”

“Have a good Valentine’s Day as well,” I said slowly. “See you later.”

Before he could say anything else, I turned and walked left the aisle.  I immediately went to the checkout.  I was still missing a few key items, but I decided it would be easier to drive to the grocery store on the other side of town than potentially run into Fred again.  I went through the things I would need through my head again, which now included WetOnes for my shoulder.

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