Reactions [Free Short Fiction]

I’m still learning more about the characters in my upcoming book, Eager Observer, third in my Deviant Behaviors trilogy, and today’s story is an attempt to learn more about the characters’ lives before the book to work out the kinks in the plot.

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The prompt for today’s story comes from The Daily Post:

Portion

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ― C.G. Jung

Reactions

Her tongue flicked against the opening – searching, probing – and Millie stifled a groan.

Pulling the little cup away from her face, she squinted an eye and studied it a moment before it went back to her mouth. Then both her eyes closed as the tip of her tongue found it. She licked the last of the cream cheese from the container, smashed the foil lid down, and tossed it toward a trash can.

It bounced off the lip of the metal can with a ping. She swore as it landed a few feet away.

“I’ll get it,” a woman’s voice said from somewhere nearby.

Millie watched as the tall, hooded form stooped, snatched the cup from the tiled floor, then tucked it neatly into the trash can. When she turned around and the hood fell slightly away from her face, Millie’s heart twisted into a hard lump in her chest.

She had the most heartbreaking face Millie had ever seen.

Then she smiled, and Millie’s heart started pumping furiously as her cheeks and forehead filled with blood. She cast her eyes down, wondering if she had cream cheese on her face, then glanced back up. The woman was watching her.

“Thank you,” Millie said softly.

“You’re welcome.” The woman stared at her a moment as if assessing her before she stepped forward and held out a hand. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.”

Millie took her hand. She wanted to say that she knew she had never seen her before, because she would remember a face like hers, but she held back.

“I’m not normally here at this hour,” Millie said. “Usually I’m here at night. I’m Millie, by the way.”

The hooded stranger’s eyes went wide before falling half-closed again. “You can call me Undine.”

“What a beautiful name.”

Undine smiled. “Where are you normally at this hour?”

“Home, asleep. I’m a blogger, and most of my sources are night people, so I keep odd hours.” She pulled out a chair and gestured at it with one hand. “Would you like to sit with me?”

Undine glanced at the chair, then back at Millie. “I can’t.” She reached out, plucked Millie’s pen from her breast pocket, and pulled up one sleeve to reveal one forearm. “Do you want to give me your email address?”

Millie recited it and watched as the stranger scrawled it onto her skin harder than she probably needed to for the ink to take. Then Undine blew on the ink, dropped her sleeve, and slipped the pen back into Millie’s pocket.

“I’ll email you. Maybe we’ll have coffee when I can get away.”

“Get away from what?” Millie asked without thinking.

Undine smiled. “My curse.”

While Millie’s mind teemed with thoughts, none came to her mouth. The term “tongue-tied” floated to the surface. She smiled.

“You have a beautiful smile, Millie,” Undine said. “I need to go.”

Before Millie could say another word, Undine turned and walked out of the coffee shop. Part of her wondered if she would ever see the woman again, while the other was sure the whole thing had been a dream born of too much caffeine and not enough sleep.


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