Hi there! It’s been a busy time, so I’ve well and truly missed the deadline for the previous flash fiction challenge. Nevermind, I’ve gone all crazy and decided to finish my piece anyway.
“The day after he burned the letter, he got a text from her.”
You’ll find my story -another very rough first draft- below. Thanks for reading!
Second chance Anna
The day after he burned the letter
The day after he burned the letter, he got a text from her. Peter watched the fleeting glow of his screen, lit up in concert with Anna’s tone. The chirp had sent goosebumps up his neck and across his scalp. He had paid good money to a weird guy for an insane service. It had worked.
His hand hovered over the screen. He hesitated long enough for a second message to come through. Same distinctive Anna sound. Now he hurried to open the message, feeling himself falling behind in his second chance.
Babe! Dinner at my place 730?
Bring wine 😉
Peter was off the sofa, his phone in his back pocket, on his way to the wine shop. Second chance Anna wanted wine and she was going to get it.
“Shit,” he said, alone in his car. “It worked.”
Three years before the letter
Peter stared at his phone under the table. His friend Ed was midway into his best chat up routine, but the part that required Peter hadn’t started yet. The guy’s friend was still at the bar buying drinks.
Someone thumped into the booth across from Peter. He raised his eyes to find a pretty girl with two drinks and a basket of pretzels. She handed a drink to her friend, who clinked glasses with Ed under meaningful eye contact. The girl rolled her eyes at Peter and they laughed.
“I’m Anna,” she said. When he shook her hand, it was freezing from the drink. “Usually I drink red wine, so I don’t go full popsicle.”
By the end of the night, Peter and Anna were drinking red wine in a quiet place downtown. They chatted about all the normal things, but it felt monumental to Peter. She liked the movie High Fidelity and mismatched socks and she was taking a three week vacation from the law firm to travel in Central America and he thought she was fun and exciting. He asked for her phone number with the queasiness of a late night of drinking and a powerful hope.
“Of course,” she said. She entered her number into his phone and assigned it her signature ring.
One week before he burned the letter
Peter was late to his third dinner of the week. He was fumbling his keys back into his pocket, a task made more difficult by the bouquet of flowers he was holding, when Anna stepped into the hall.
“Hi,” she said, her face ruched with tired smile.
Peter stepped toward her for a kiss, but she backed away. Her eyes were on the flowers. “Did you get my text about wine?”
The flowers sagged in Peter’s grasp. “Shit, I- yeah, but I got distracted. I was late at work,” he said, but Anna interrupted.
“Peter, you stopped at the store for flowers, but you didn’t get the one thing I asked you to bring,” Anna said. Her voice was calm, as though she were explaining the scenario to someone who needed to be brought up to speed.
Peter thought back to the early days of being together. He had taken Anna out two days after she got home from Belize. She’d been tan and happy, and work-weary Peter had basked in her reflected glow. On their second date, she’d taken him to a cafe on the east side of town, where he’d almost refused to park his car on the street, but had forgotten about the danger by the time the appetizers arrived. He had cooked for her on their third date, and when she’d curled up next to him on the couch, he’d seen the fabled mismatched socks. Today’s Anna hadn’t been on vacation in years and she looked tired. Both of her socks read, Smile! It’s Tuesday!
“I’m sorry,” he said. About the wine, the repeated late arrivals, the general state of neglect they had fallen into together. He handed her the flowers, which he squashed between them in a hug. Anna’s arms came up to pat him lightly on the back.
The next day, she sent him the letter. Maybe we should spend some time apart.
Two days after he burned the letter
Peter dialed the phone number of weird guy. He was starting to rethink the insane thing.
“Hey, Ron,” Peter said. “This is Peter. You, uh, did the break up letter for me.”
Ron, the weird guy, blew out his breath. “I told you, basically everyone changes their mind,” he said. “It’s too weird, I know.”
Three days ago, he had worked his limited magic on Anna’s break up letter. He had marked up the familiar words – spend some time apart, even though I still love you, focus on ourselves. Then, as he explained to Peter, he worked the spell to take the sting out of the words. It wasn’t exactly that Anna wouldn’t remember the letter or her reasons for wanting to split up. It’s just that she wouldn’t feel them so keenly. For a small fee, he reset the clock to before Anna needed to work on herself outside of a relationship, back to when she just wanted Peter to pick up some wine. All Peter had to do was burn the letter.
“Look, Pete, I’m sorry, man. But I can’t give you a refund,” Ron said.
Peter was silent a few beats too long. “It’s not that. I burned it. The spell worked.”
Ron was quiet.
Peter cleared his throat, then continued. “I was just wondering if you could take the sting out of a couple more things.”