Stylish Imitation: “The Choice”
Short story placing an ancient mythical plot in the modern world, supposedly in the style of James Joyce or modernism in general. Adapted for the Weekly Writing Challenge.
The cell phone on the table just like last time I was here. Except last time she was here with me, looking at me lovingly from the other side of the table, breathing in and out delicately, her chest moving in that constant rhythm, a bit faster than mine. I could feel her mosk perfume slowly filling the air around us. She used to spray it behind her ear and on her wrists, just like her aunt taught her when she was a little girl. There were two identical cups of tea on the table then, one on each side of the cell phone. She used to trace her fingers on the logo printed on the cup, as if it was encrusted with precious stones she drew energy from. I always found that rather odd, her inability to just hold something in her hand without twisting it, or tracing shapes on it, or even breaking it if it was fragile.
The cell phone just vibrated. She usually took it first just to hand it back to me and make sure I wouldn’t ignore it in case it was something important. She wouldn’t just hand it to me though. She’d always let her skin touch mine with affection as if she was proud of everything I had achieved. We were here for a reason two years ago. I had to decide which of three people to call. Three people, each with a different job offer that would make a substantial difference in my life once it was accepted. She was here to encourage me, to support me and possibly to make sure I chose the one which would bring her and us as many advantages as possible.
She was always there for me, always helping and guiding me, sharing her opinions on everything, making sure I always chose the best thing for me, for us. Yes, for us, because we were a couple, and now everything about us, not me, not her, us, and yes, she even helped me choose then, the most important decision I ever had to take.
She found the first job boring. It would help me improve my skills and qualifications, yes, but it wasn’t exciting like she wanted, it wasn’t challenging and certainly not glamorous. It was good for me, but not for her, not for us. She always liked to be spontaneous, buy something first and then think whether she needed it or not; no, no, no, this job was not good, not suitable for us. The second option was exciting. High managerial position, so much control over so many. Chances to progress shortly, and go up, up and up to the very top of everything. She didn’t like it, perhaps she didn’t want me to succeed without her. It would set us apart, she said, playing with my hair, twisting, twisting like she always twisted everything she had in her hands, not keeping still, ever.
The last job, which she almost made me choose but I have to admit I found it very pleasant as well, took us to so many parties, art galleries, openings, book signings, introduced us to the lifestyle she always wanted. Never still, always doing something, always busy, out and about. We were together, yes, but not emotionally anymore, she enjoyed herself so much, with all the dress fittings and the shoes and all the time in the world to look pretty. Time. Tick tock tick tock, all the time in the world to be together. But we weren’t together, not like we wanted it to be at first, not like she wanted it to be at first; or maybe this is how she wanted, and I thought differently, I read her differently.
They say ‘amor omnia vincit’, love conquers all, but only when you want it to, and she didn’t want it enough, she wanted everything else more. She helped me choose. We chose together, what was best for us, and now she probably helps someone else choose, twists someone else’s hair and drinks someone else’s coffee. How we used to share a cup of coffee, drinking together from one cup, the same coffee, how we were always together and never shared anything with anyone else, and how she ended up drinking from someone else’s glass. Just wanted to taste the drink, she said, but no, that was more than that, that was sharing, and sharing with someone else, and the choice she helped me make was the choice that ended up leading us here, where we are apart, not together. Not together.
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