Tomorrow

No tears. She’d promised.

“When’re you comin’ home?”

“Soon.”

A crackly voice emanated from the bus station speaker. “Ardmore. Last call.”

“Bye, girl.”

“Call me,” she said after they kissed for what she feared was the last time.

* * *

He was fast asleep by the county line. Until he dreamed of her and woke with a start.

“Somethin’ spookin’ you?” the grandmotherly type beside him asked with a smile.

“Kinda.”

“What’s waitin’ on you in Ardmore?”

“The past.”

“You ain’t one of those folks who’s always lookin’ in their rearview, are you?”

* * *

Ardmore hadn’t changed a lick. It haunted Cal like a beautiful ghost. Especially when he walked into that motel again. First time since that last night. Five years before.

“How long you stayin’?”

“Dunno,” Cal answered, laying three crumpled hundreds on the counter. “Five nights, maybe. Can you call me a taxi?”

“Sure. Ten minutes good?”

“I reckon.”

* * *

Cal arrived earlier than he wanted and wondered why he’d been in such a hurry as he stared at the button on the wall. This place had no heart. No soul.

Just sterile hallways was all.

“Yes?” said the voice from the intercom.

“Here to see Lauren Cole.”

“Your name?”

“Cal.”

“Relation?”

He thought about that.

“Friend.”

The doors unlocked with a buzz.

“She’s in 427.”

Cal wasn’t surprised to find that she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Even then. Despite everything. And because of it.

He approached slowly, cautiously even, until he was stopped by a beep.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“A text,” Cal said, glancing at his phone.

u still luv her?

i luv u, girl. he replied before turning off his phone and stuffing it in his pocket.

“Where you stayin’?”

“Knights Inn.”

“That’s where—”

“Yep.”

An awkward silence. Cal examined the picture on the bedside table — a boy blowing out four candles atop a chocolate cake.

“I’m surprised you came,” she finally said.

“Why?”

“ ‘Cause I left.”

“Ancient history.”

“People say you started drinkin’ ‘cause of me.”

“People’re wrong. Plus, I quit.”

“When?”

“After they took my license.”

Cal paused. He looked at the picture again.

“Is he mine, Lauren?”

“No,” she said turning away.

“People say otherwise.”

“People’re wrong. He’s his.”

Another awkward silence.

“You know he ran off, don’t you?”

“Yep.”

“I shoulda never left you, Cal.”

“But you did.”

“Regretted it every day.”

“You ain’t one of those folks who’s always lookin’ in their rearview, are you?”

“Why’d you come, Cal?”

“ ‘Cause you asked.”

“I’m gonna die soon.”

“That, too.”

“No one knows where his daddy’s at,” she said, gazing at the birthday boy. “Ain’t nobody to look out for him.” The tears made solemn streaks during a silent cry.

Her last one.

* * *

She woke with a dreaded understanding. Nothing since that only text. The story about her dying was just that — a story.

Like the other mornings, she said a prayer, then grabbed her phone. Only that morning, her prayer was answered.

pick me up at noon?

u still luv her? she replied.

shes dead.

dont matter. answer me.

i luv u, girl.

* * *

There was no holding back the tears when she felt the kiss she’d doubted would happen. Cal wiped her cheek.

“Not in front of him,” he said, nodding to the boy wearing the sad smile.

“So he is yours?”

“ ‘Pends on who y’ask.”

“‘I’m asking you.”

“He ain’t mine.” She sighed of relief. “He’s ours.”

“Why, Cal?”

“ ‘Cause I love you, girl. And I ain’t gonna look back no more, y’hear?”

“I do,” she said as she grabbed Cal’s hand. Then the boy’s.

Image courtesy of The Integer Club via Creative Commons

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • http://www.TheDADvocateProject.com Anonymous

    John,

    Sounds like the start of a novel. I love your writing. Btw just went through editing our interview from last year working to put it in my book. Would you like a copy of the transcript?

  • Debbie

    I really like this.

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