The Last Time

This was absolutely the last time.

I shook my head, trying to clear the fog, hands clenched in my hair as my gaze flitted across the room, absorbing my surroundings; compounding my conviction.

The scattered remnants, sprinkled with crimson protest, screamed their disdain.
_____

Haley smiled across the table as he fumbled with the wine bottle.

“Need some help with that?” she teased.

He looked up, corkscrew wedged firmly in place, his face fixed with concentration.Β  He pulled his tongue back from between his lips and grinned.

“Nope, I got this.” A loud pop emphasized his declaration as the cork was released from its confinement.

Two months…

He had been, by far, the best “blind date” she had been on in years. A friend of a friend, whom she’d met in passing several times, had been the setup of choice. Everyone was tired of seeing her so down and beaten by the emotional baggage brought, and left, by her ex-fiancΓ©e .

“You need to get on with your life, Haley. He isn’t worth the tears you waste on him.”

“Fine,” had been her reluctant reply. “But I’ve already told you; I’m done. Set me up all you want, but it’s going to be a waste of both his time and my own.”

She watched as he filled her glass, the deep merlot nearly toppling over the edge as it slipped up to the rim, settling finally in a welcoming pool of burgundy.

“A toast?” he asked, peering up at her as he filled his own glass.

She smiled. “What should we toast to?”

“To an amazing, exhilarating two months. You make me happier than I can remember being in a long time,” he said, raising his glass.

Haley raised her glass to meet his, his words rushing through her, filling empty spaces.

He reached out to cover her free hand with his own. “Wait right here.” As he stood and walked to the kitchen, he tossed back, “I hope you like pasta!”

She laughed. “Do you even have to ask? You know better than that!” Her eyes lit up at the sight of the plates piled high with a marinara-topped angel hair pasta. “Did you seriously make this yourself?”

“Of course!” He winked. “Sauce is from scratch, too. Family secret.”

“It looks delicious! You really shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble.”

“No trouble at all.” He smiled and settled into his chair, watching in amusement as she dove into her pasta.

“This,” she said, “is amazing.”

They ate, conversation carrying them through the course of the meal. She had forgotten what it was like to be with someone where comfort just came naturally.

Twenty-five minutes…

She felt confused, disoriented, as though the world was happening outside of her stillness. She shook her head, trying to clear the fog.

“Are you ok?” he asked, leaning forward.

“I… it’s so strange.. I just. I feel dizzy.”

As her vision tunneled, his concerned face was the last thing she remembered seeing.
_____

I recalled her words as she told me that she’d finally felt she could be open enough with someone to trust them again.

Now, her body: helpless, limp.

Just enough sodium oxybate mixed in her dinner, a fine coating on her glass to blend with the wine, to make sure she wouldn’t have much fight.

I swore this wouldn’t happen again.

She’d said that I was different.

That I made her feel like nothing in the world could ever hurt her again.

I lifted her effortlessly, carrying her, without protest, into the bedroom.

She was wrong.
_________________________

This is an entirely fictional post written for a prompt by The Red Dress Club.

This one KILLED me this week, for sure. Time constraints and inspiration collided head-on, so PLEASE.. Concrit is most definitely welcome and very probably needed! Was this “the obvious” that Cheryl referenced?

And now for something completely different.

Write a short piece – 600 words max – that begins with the words, “This was absolutely the last time” and ends with “She was wrong.”

Have fun with it. Think outside the box. Don’t go with the obvious.

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About Caitlin's Concepts

Mom to 4 boys and drowning in a sea of testosterone!
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40 Responses to The Last Time

  1. tsonoda148 says:

    Bone Chilling. I think your use of the prompt was anything but the obvious. Enthralling. I got a little confused with the use of italics, and who was who, but just a little. This was some excellent writing!

    • Thank you! I did the first person in the beginning because I wanted to make sure the ending was surprising.. and that the male character (who you’ll notice I did not name πŸ˜‰ ) was someone likable without putting the reader on guard against him. Trying to cram it into 600 words was almost torture, but I’m really glad you liked it!

  2. Galit Breen says:

    Chills! Shivers! Definitely not obvious! I loved the details, the descriptions. I adored that I dug the characters right away and that very quickly and in very few words, I had to change my mind.

    I remember reading somewhere that to have a successful story you have to be willing to hurt the sweetheart character. Darlin? I think this one’s a success!

  3. Oh wow, this was not obvious at all! I loved it, it’s perfect. And chilling.

  4. Erin says:

    Whoa…so not expecting that! What a great, totally surprise ending!!!

  5. Tiffany says:

    I don’t think it was the obvious at all! Great post! πŸ™‚ The part where he says “I swore this wouldn’t happen again” got me thinking that this story would have been interesting from his POV within the constraints of the prompt. Just a thought, and really, I didn’t even have the mojo to write anything for this prompt, so I may be entirely full of it!

    • I started with his POV in the beginning, but realized I wouldn’t be able to continue it all the way through without giving everything away. That was also why I did that first person and the rest third; I felt like saying “he” in the beginning would automatically put the reader on guard with his character and I wanted to avoid that as well to really make the ending a surprise. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  6. Shell says:

    Not obvious at all!

  7. wow… that was intense. I’m disgusted and intrigued all at the same time.
    And no… I don’t think this was the “obvious” that Cheryl was talking about πŸ™‚
    Great job!!

  8. Crystal says:

    Wow!! I had chills reading this!! Amazing piece!!

  9. Natalie says:

    No! So not obvious – the tension, the release of her letting go and enjoying herself and his comfort…it was fantastic!

  10. Initially, I was confused. Then I realized you were switching perspectives — his to hers to his…

    Once I was able to put that together I re-read and was enthralled. This sounds like a novel I would like to read.

    I love this sentence, “The scattered remnants, sprinkled with crimson protest, screamed their disdain.”

    • I’m glad you got it.. I was struggling with the word limit while trying to get it to flow the way I wanted. Some places still seem a bit choppy to me and I may go back and fix that later if my brain starts to function and I get a few moments. Thank you so much for your comment! =)

  11. Andrea says:

    Oh my G-d. Oh my G-d. Wow. This was powerful and no, certainly NOT obvious. Wow. I feel a little bit sick, so that’s certainly good writing, woman.

    My only confusion, after I read the end, was who was “thinking” in the first few lines. I went back and read them and realized it was him (I hope that’s right) but while reading I thought it was her words, and I got swept up and totally forgot about them til the end. I am thinking that is what you wanted, but if I’m wrong there then I just figured I’d point it out.

    Wow. Well done. Nauseating and chilling and really well done. I can’t say much more, because I’m wiped for the moment. πŸ˜‰ Seriously.

    OK, I just read the ending again and I kind of want to cry, so I have to go now …

    • Ah! I had to unpsam your comment! =\

      Yes, I wanted the beginning to be a guess as to which character it was, which is why I left out a gender (though I so many times wanted to type “he”). You are absolutely right! Leaving it open that way kept the reader from guarding against him in the story, which is what I had to aim for in order to keep the end a surprise.

      I’m SO glad you liked it!! Or.. didn’t like it in a good way. πŸ˜‰

  12. lori says:

    So, so, so good…you pulled a lot of different feelings out of me with this one, and then the end just made me feel sick. Great job!

  13. SoberJulie says:

    ohhhhhh LOVE IT!!
    Seriously you’ve nailed it here sister. I want MORE. I love the first person, you lulled me into her world….focusing upon only her. Then my heart dropped when it switched, brilliant.

    • Yay THANKS! But you did get that the first person perspective was never her right? It was him all the way. I gave her more history in the third person (and a name!) to make her the relate-able character, but it was never her. πŸ˜‰

  14. Ashley says:

    Oh man! I thought it was going to be a lovely story and then bam. I feel sick to my stomach. Wow! What a twist!

  15. Cassie says:

    Holy Smokes! So good! I didn’t see that coming!! I’ll have to check out the rest of your blog after this one!

    Found you off TRDC Red Writing Hood!

    • Oh, thank you!! Both for coming by and for the awesome compliments! TRDC has introduced me to many amazing writers and provided me so many opportunities to just write; I don’t know where I’d be without them!

  16. Elaine says:

    I’ll admit I was a little confused at the first part but it was ALL good and interesting and surprising.

    This line is SO good! “…his words rushing through her, filling empty spaces.” LOVE that.

    • Yea.. I ran into a word restraint and was working with limited time. I definitely want to tweak a few things, but the beginning was supposed to be the lead-in to a guessing game, so confusion was expected even though I had originally put more detail there that had to be severely edited. πŸ˜‰

      Thank you so much for stopping by and reading and for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it!

  17. Elisa says:

    Holy Shit! I wasn’t expecting that at all! Amazing! Visiting from TDRC…

  18. MamaRobinJ says:

    Holy shit. That was a powerful one, for sure. I thought the first person in the beginning was her, but to look back and realize it was him was a great double take. Some great descriptions in here.

    Also, I don’t know what sodium oxybate is, but I’m not coming for dinner at your house πŸ˜‰

    • Yes yes yes!!!!! I was HOPING people would think it was possibly her. Or at least second-guess themselves midway through the story. I needed about 100 more words to pull it all together neatly and I still feel that it’s choppy in places. Maybe I can edit it outside of the piece for the prompt and come up with something [no one will ever want to read because the ending would be just too gruesome]!

  19. Melanie says:

    Wow, wow, wow! Talk about thinking outside of the box. I loved how you used this prompt. Not so obvious but also not out of left field either. I love the little clues sprinkled through the story.

    Some of my favorite lines: “The scattered remnants, sprinkled with crimson protest, screamed their disdain.”; “A loud pop emphasized his declaration as the cork was released from its confinement.”; “…the deep merlot nearly toppling over the edge as it slipped up to the rim, settling finally in a welcoming pool of burgundy.”

    Such a good use of description and imagery. Great stuff!

  20. Thank you so very much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I’m glad you liked it! πŸ™‚

  21. Emily says:

    WOW what a twist! I loved it…and hated it all at one time.

  22. kelly says:

    Holy Moly! Did not see that coming!! Awesome job with the time constraints, although you would never guess you were struggling with this piece! Very good.

  23. Kim says:

    So disturbing. It really surprised me. Great writing!

  24. It was SO obvious. HA!

    I have to admit I was confused. I still don’t entirely get who’s talking in the first part. And then you use italics to be her AND him in the main part – and then you switch POV. Lots going on.

    The storyline was really clever and chilling, but less intentional confusion might have made it even stronger! I love a Bad Man! πŸ˜‰

  25. jeleystorey says:

    Amazing. You truly have incredible talent and YOU make me want to read more and more! I hope you consider writing a book. You are that good lady!

    • Aw! I’m so glad you liked it! It was definitely choppy in places, but I LOVED the premise (based on the prompt) and just couldn’t shrink and salvage at the same time.

      I’m thinking of expanding this beyond the 600 words at some point, though I don’t see myself doing an entire book. Short stories is more “me.” πŸ˜‰

  26. Renee says:

    wow! I so did not see that coming.
    Good job!
    The italics didn’t confuse me. I caught on quickly to who was speaking.

    • Hooray! I’m so glad you got it. I still would like to edit it and add more (I deleted SO much to get it down to 600 words, but I trimmed it down to what I thought would work) because I loved the idea.

      Well, ya know.. in a writer kinda way. πŸ˜‰

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