[Author's Note: Yet another online challenge from the apparently now defunct website creativecornercafe.com. A list of nine words [picture, blouse, mirror, ancient, aggravated, Bon Jovi, coffee, claw-foot tub, moon] was provided and we were challenged to write them seamlessly into a story of less than 500 words in the order provided.]
Tom ran down the driveway, loose stone crunching beneath his sneakers. Jen looked up, halfway in the car, irritation clouding her features. He skidded to a stop at her door just as she yanked it closed with a loud slam.
“Jen,” he was gasping for breath. “Let me explain.” He panted outside the closed window.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good picture of what was going on.” Jen rummaged through her purse for her keys, ignoring him outside the car.
“It was nothing. I swear. Give me five minutes.” Tom was trying to catch his breath.
“Nothing?” her eyebrows furrowed, her lips tightened into a thin line. “You had your hand halfway up her blouse.”
“You’ve got it all wrong.” Tom had one hand pressed against the glass of her window; his breathing was slowing, returning to normal. “Don’t be mad.”
Jen glared out the windshield, then into her rearview mirror, anywhere to avoid his lying eyes. Anger flared in her like an ancient star going supernova, but she willed herself to calm; she wasn’t going to let him see how he’d made her feel. “I’m not mad, Tom. You’re not worth getting mad at. I’m just...” she searched for the right word, “aggravated.”
“Jen. Jen,” he wanted her attention and made a twisting motion with his hand, the universal sign for her to roll down her window. She let out a heavy sigh and rolled down her window. Once there was nothing separating them, he continued.
“Jen, I love you.”
The words didn’t have the affect he intended. She yanked her keys from her purse and pushed them into the ignition, firing up the engine as if she were about to compete in a race. Bon Jovi blared from the stereo; she had left the volume cranked from her seventy-five mile trip here. She wanted to hit him, the lying bastard. Her hand fell on the Styrofoam cup of cold coffee still in her drink holder and she hurled it at him through the open window.
“Fuck you!” She screamed it, loud enough that even the partygoers inside could hear her over the thumping bass of dance music.
Tom took a hesitating step backward, mocha rivulets running down his white shirt.
Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel like the cast iron feet of an old claw-foot tub. She slammed the car in reverse, and shot out into the street. She hit the brakes hard, tires squealing as she came to an abrupt stop, then threw the car into gear and peeled off down the street, leaving Tom dripping coffee in the light of the full moon.
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