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Another Door Closes
A Flash Fiction by Cheryl Skory Suma
I’m sitting jammed between the window and four gossiping students consuming drinks with fifteen-syllable names. Looking up from my laptop, I take another sip of my black coffee, inhaling the gentle buzz of the busy coffee shop.
I’m about to return my fingers to their tap dance when I hear it. Your deep, full-bodied laugh, somewhere at the counter’s far end. Suddenly, the air is thicker, and I am certain I smell the beach — your scent always evoked salty sea waves, reminding me of an escape I’d forgotten to plan.
Ten years ago, when our messy, complex, twenty-year friendship ended in one ridiculous argument that I can’t remember, an argument in which you said something horrid that I can’t recall, when I refused to forgive you for hurting me yet again in a way that has long since healed…it never dawned on me I would lose. Door closed. A few years later, I heard you’d moved. Adopted a baby. Left your husband. Snippets from acquaintances that didn’t know enough but knew more than I.
You were the storm to my quiet, always doing something I’d never do. Your fearlessness to create havoc in service of your latest quest never failed to fascinate me. I would return the gift by making you laugh — you appreciated my dry sense of humour, your laughter like lightning, illuminating the restaurants where we’d share the stories of our lives. Those meals were bridged by weekly calls in which you’d ask my opinion on something before hanging up to do the opposite.
Glancing around, I can feel the pressure building. My chest feels too tight, my palms, too sweaty. Like the crescendo of the ocean’s waves, like the climax before a final goodbye, time lingers. The moment overwhelms me, unexpectedly dragging me into the tornado of our past.
I know the possible pinnacle of our story’s resolution. I should get up, I should go over and casually say, “Wow, how long’s it been?” but your reappearance has caught me unprepared, so instead, I sip my cold coffee, caught in the same vortex of all those years ago when I realized I missed you but was still hurt and unable to decide if inaction was the better course of action. So, I teeter, waiting for the storm to pass, for the decision to be made for me.
The jangle of a bell as the coffee-shop door swings shut, and you’re gone.
Author: Cheryl Skory Suma’s work has appeared in US, UK, and Canadian publications, including Barren Magazine, Reckon Review, National Flash Fiction, Exposition Review, FatalFlaw Literary Magazine, Longridge Review, SFWP, SugarSugarSalt, and many others. A multi-Pushcart nominee, her work placed in thirty-eight competitions since 2019. Cheryl’s Flash CNF Contributing Editor at Barren Magazine.
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