This post is the first part of the #BreakUpSeason flash fiction series, based on prompts from this post.
They sat at a Formica counter in a cheap and nasty parody of a Starbucks, nestled deep in the beating heart of the Mount West Mall. Dozens of faceless consumers paraded around them in all directions, obscured by the steam from their two large lattes. An acne-coated barista, lost in thought and lost sleep, their only witness.
She won’t stay quiet. Not for a second. She prattles on about talent coaches and swimsuit fittings and the places where Vaseline just shouldn’t go. It never used to be like this, though. There used to be insight in her eyes. An unabated passion. A snort when she laughed. Now, when he gazed into those once bespectacled eyes, all he could see were her contacts, reflecting back the tack of the coffee house.
His phone buzzes. Again. For the tenth time, at least, since they sat down. It could be anyone, he thinks to himself. His mother. His boss. Her dad. Anyone. He’s not fooling anyone, let alone himself. He knows the regularity of it. He knows, though his screen is face down, exactly who is trying to contact him. The one with the weird laugh. The one from the book store.
His breathing becomes laboured. He doesn’t want to look. Doesn’t want to give her reason to question him. She waxes on about practise questions, photo shoots and prom dresses.
He drops his latte.
The barrista stands to attention, unsure of what he is reacting to. She looks down, gasping at the state of her dress, looks up at him, confused. She’s saying something now. He can’t hear it.
“We need to talk,” he says.