Melt #2

Prompt by: Nathan Pralle

Take any one genre of popular fiction literature — Action-adventure, Crime, Detective, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science fiction, Western, Inspirational, etc. — and write a (short) story in that genre, but make all aspects of the story grossly stereotypical for that genre to the point of over-the-top.

***

I find a pair of sweatpants on the ground as I shove the rest of the scattered clothes into the bag, shivering as the cold wind hits my bare thighs. Only one of the neighbors remains at their door as I zip the carrier bag up and snap the suitcase closed, tilting her head to the side as I bend over to hook the pants over my numb ankles.

“What the fuck are you looking at?” I snap, as I look up at her, the maybe 10 or 12-year-old kid in her scarlet pajamas. Her lower lip begins to wobble as I continue staring at her. I sit down on the cold gravel as I maneuver the sweatpants up my frozen limbs.

“What’s wrong, sweetie? Never seen a woman in her undies and a sweater in the freezing cold?” I let out a painful laugh as I stand up, finding her gone.

“Neither have I,” I murmur as I stride towards my car at the other side of the road. It’s a shame that I am a one-pair-of-shoes-at-a-time girl since, right now, my beige sneakers are still indoors, probably peeking out from beneath Kim and Emily’s bed. This doesn’t only mean that I have to make it home in just my socks; it also means I’ll have to buy a new pair, unless I wish to go about in heels or my running shoes.

I lick the blood off my lip as I drive, my body beginning to come back to life in the warmth of my car. I squirm about as I think of her, her petite body pressed against mine in the semidarkness of the bedroom, her hot breath traveling up the side of my neck as she gives in to my touch. It’s funny how you learn to know someone up to each every little detail, even in such a short time as this. I could try and sound romantic by saying it felt like forever but honestly, it was always too little.

It’s around midday as I park the car outside my apartment building, my insides trembling in dread at the mess I’m about to encounter. I used to be a neat freak but somewhere along the way I ceased to care about the state of my apartment. No one else would see it anyway. Em never did.

I sit back on the seat and close my eyes, breathing in. I refuse to cry as I let her image fill my head, my teeth slowly gnawing at my lip again. The thought of her has yet to lose this effect on me, the tiny shock waves running across my body and toward my core, merely adding to the longing I have for her. I exhale slowly as I go back in time, just a few hours, to the loveliness before which I was thrown out.

I hear a tap on my window just as I feel her, my eyes snapping open. An elderly man is staring at me through the glass, his index finger pointing at my face. I taste salt as I run my tongue along my lips, noticing I’d been crying. I roll the window down, watching his puzzled face.

“Are you okay?” he asks me, a hint of a smile curling at his mouth.

“Yeah—“ I trail off, shaking my head a little. “I’m fine.” I force a smile as I grab my bags from the passenger seat. “Thanks.”

“No problem. I do hate seeing a girl cry,” he says as he steps back, letting me open the door. I try not to look in his eyes as I lock the doors, holding the suitcase under my arm while my hand holds on to the bag.

“Been on a trip somewhere?”

I breathe in and out slowly before saying anything. “Kind of.”

“Was it good?”

I smile, scrambling toward the door. “Yes.”

“Well, I’m glad,” he says, starting to walk away. “Have a nice day, now.”

“Thanks.” I turn the key in the lock, pressing my hand down on the handle. “You too.”

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