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Just One Minute

My entry into the 'Just a Minute' challenge

By Amber BristowPublished about a month ago β€’ Updated about a month ago β€’ 4 min read
Top Story - April 2024
20
Just One Minute
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ on Unsplash

Alice could feel her heart beating out of her chest. She tried to calm herself as she flexed her fingers and reached for her glass, bringing it to her lips and taking a sip. As the cooling liquid pooled beneath her tongue, her eyes met with his.

There he sat, sipping his iced tea as his forefinger danced across the table, matching the rhythm of the record he played from the other room. He wore the polo shirt she had brought him on their first anniversary, all those years ago. He smelt like the perfect blend of Hugo Boss cologne and the outdoors, allowing her to relive their recent holiday where he had brought the fragrance from the airport.

She had sworn it was going to happen then, on the white sand beaches of Greece as they held hands under the fading sun. She had worn a new dress for the occasion, one which perfectly matched her freshly applied manicure and accessories. She had pictured how that holiday would look in the form of photos sitting on their coffee tables, hung on their walls, printed on invites. She had practiced her 'soft smiles', just in case he had hired a professional to capture the moment. He knew many from his line of work, and she predicted he'd of booked in with Ben, the 'Travelling Talent' who always took on clients located abroad just as an excuse to go on holiday.

When he left his phone at the hotel, she grew curious as to how he could pull the evening together with no contacts. How would Ben reach him? She wondered. She had offered to run back and get it, but he shrugged it off, stating that they wouldn't be long.

Her hope began to dwindle as the the night came to an end; when the sun had been replaced by the moon and the air had started to cool. As they journeyed back to their hotel her heart stopped briefly at every turn they made, but each time she was disappointed to discover nothing more than empty pavement before them.

Tonight, she could tell, was different. He was nervous, his apartment was pristine and well-lit and the music that flowed from room-to-room was calming and pleasant. He had pulled out a chair for her when she had arrived and she knew the formality would have made him feel uncomfortable, but she smiled with glee as she placed a kiss on his cheek and sat down, appreciating his etiquette.

She grinned as she lowered her head to the table, shaking it slightly in disbelief that she ever thought a proposal would happen somewhere so public and unpredictable. This was them, she thought. At home on a Friday night, listening to music and enjoying each others company as they sipped at their preferred beverages. Nothing more, nothing less. It was perfect.

"I asked you to join me tonight because I wanted to talk about something," he began, his voice trembling as Alice's smile grew ear to ear.

He placed his hands on the table, his palms facing the ceiling, ready to embrace hers. As she slipped her hand across the table and intertwined her fingers with his, he gripped her tightly, letting out a soft smile that sweetened the air.

"You are the perfect woman," he nodded, readying himself for what he had to say next.

Alice's lips parted ways as she tried to steady her breathing. She knew she would say yes, there was nothing more she wanted in the world than to be his wife; but how would she say it, she wondered. Part of her wanted to stop him mid-sentence and declare her undying love for him as she screamed 'YES!' at the top of her lungs. Another, much larger part of her, wanted to hear what he had prepared. She wanted to reminisce in the memories that he held closest, and understand why now, after six years of blissful partnership, he has chosen to take the next step forward.

As these thoughts swam in the air, Darren remained silent, his lips making various shapes as he tried to find his words. Alice nodded in reassurance as she squeezed his hand, "What is it, my love?" she smiled knowingly.

"I am not the perfect man," he paused, his grip loosening around her hand, "I can't carry on with this anymore."

The air grew thick and heavy as Alice pulled her hand from the table and cradled it in her lap. The warmth that filled the space just seconds before was replaced with a chill as the room fell silent.

"The longer we spend together, the more pressure I feel to get married, buy a house, have babies and-" he stifled, "I can't see myself doing that with you."

Alice's stare turned blank as her eyes fell from his, redirecting her gaze on the table that separated them. She could not see him as he edged forwards, reaching for her arms and wiping at forced tears. She could not hear him begging for her understanding and apologising for his decision. All she could see was her future, fading away; the life she had built, crumbling into oblivion. All she could hear was that she was not enough. That six years of her life, spent devoted to her partner, were wasted.

In just one minute, her heart had filled beyond brink, and emptied entirely, fading into a slow, melancholic beat as everything she knew fell away.

Young AdultShort StoryLove
20

About the Creator

Amber Bristow

Regularly participating in writing challenges and #writerslift on Twitter

🀍 Twitter 🀍 Website

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (9)

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  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ₯³

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago

    Congratulations on your top story

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Congratulations on your top story

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    The story is sad but well-told. It shows how Alice feels excited at first but then sad when Darren says he doesn't want to be with her anymore. It's a powerful story that makes you feel for the characters.

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Wonderfully told heartbreaking story. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • D. D. Leeabout a month ago

    Poor Alice. I’m sure so many people probably share that fear. Knowing it was coming doesn’t make one feel any better about reading the conclusion. Congrats on Top Story!

  • Brin J.about a month ago

    πŸ˜” I kind of suspected the ending with how you set Alice's hopes up in the beginning. It still wasn't any easier to read, though. It's always so gutting when someone you love doesn't return your feelings.

  • Galaxiesbuzzabout a month ago

    your words have created a sense of a connection , and I'm so appreciative of your bravery ...i was deeply moved by your article

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