Prompt: You're going to forget me. That's okay. Everybody does.
My Twist: What if every time you told somebody your name they forgot everything they knew about you?
For once, I feel the fake smile slide off of my face, replaced by a real one.
The café is an ordinary one, just ordinary enough for my tastes - slightly shoddy, with scantily dressed waitresses and foaming grey coffee that if nothing else repels the cool November chill. I'm glad this one's profile picture is actually accurate: deep smoke-colored eyes, spiked brown hair held in a perfect messy/casual way, strong hands curled around a coffee mug. His smile warms me even more than the bland drink that I sip, and I can't keep from grinning.
He says his name is Sean, and funnily enough he looks like Sean to me. Maybe it's the way his sweater is rolled up to his elbows, or the faint dimple on his cheek when he smiles. He asks my own name when we meet but I dodge the question, feeling the same stabbing pain in my chest when I actually meet a nice one. My smile now becomes superficial. As much as I like to pretend I know it won't last. Argyle Sweater Sean will wink out of my life just like all of the rest of them, taking a bit of my heart with him.
"So tell me, Miss Mystique..." His eyebrows quirk up and I can't suppress a giggle at my ridiculous profile name. "Tell me something about yourself. I already know you're clever, amazing, and gorgeous, but you seem like more than a pretty face."
A blush rises in my cheeks and I look down at my coffee, feeling a tingle in my fingers that has nothing to do with the drink.
"If you insist, Your Dream Romance," I retaliate, and now he looks down, embarrassed.
"Is it really that bad?" He wonders aloud, and I laugh and shake my head.
"No, trust me - I've seen much worse."
Sean glances up again, and his grey eyes electrify me. "I've met some strange characters, too. You been doing this for a while?"
What, internet dating? No, that's more wishful thinking.
"I'm surprised you haven't picked up a lucky guy already, with looks like yours." He teases gently, and I roll my eyes.
"Oh, please. You're not the first one who's tried flattery."
"Fine, then. Indulge me." Sean leans back in the booth, his fingers loosely brushing the stacks of age-old newspapers yellowing on the shelves next to us. "Who are you?"
"Well, if we're starting with the intimate questions..." I toy, and he chuckles. "I want to be a writer. Maybe nothing big, but I'd love to get published one day." When I examine his face I see not the usual blank smile, but a look of wonder written across his features.
"Is it really that bad?" I quote. They always run off when they see what they're getting into - if not now then later.
"No!" Sean almost shouts, and I start slightly in my seat. "That's incredible! For you to follow your ambitions like that... I can't even imagine! I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, and look at me now - Internet dating. What's your big idea? Or do you want me to hunt it out in the shelves? I doubt there's a Miss Mystique in the library records, though..."
I try to cover up the new conversation with a big grin and some quick chatter, and thankfully Sean buys along. He's a good listener, nodding while I explain my characters, running through the whole spiel I usually give the editors in the city, and when I finish, a little breathless, his cheek dimples with a new smile.
"Incredible. You're going to be a hit, Miss Mystique - I know it!"
The jolt of fear that runs through me at my profile name makes me shiver, but I clench my coffee cup tightly.
"But tell me," Sean begins, and I'm paralyzed.
No. Please, please don't ask. Don't ask the question!
"One I can get a signed copy of your award-winning novel, I'll need to know who you are."
He was so good! So passionate, so kind... Anyone but this one, please!
"What is your name, Miss Mystique?"
I fight the impulse as much as I can, straining and biting my tongue, but as always the words slip out.
"Cadence. Cadence Vermillion."
I see the recognition drain from his eyes and he blinks suddenly, spasmodically, then scrutinizes me carefully, as if I'm some long-lost relation he can't place.
"Oh, hello." He says, and the politeness and crispness in his voice shatters my heart.
"Hello." I reply, keeping the tears from trickling down my face.
"Funny - I can't remember why I'm here!" He laughs openly, and I manage a watery smile.
"Well, if you'll excuse me." He nods in my direction and walks out the door, pulling the sleeves of his argyle sweater down to his wrists. I see the brisk wind tousle his spiked hair, and the slam of his car door crunches the shards of my heart underfoot.
All I'm left with is a cup of cold coffee and a thousand, thousand regrets.
YOU ARE READING
101 Writing PromptsShort Story
From the reaches of space to the depths of the earth, where will 101 writing prompts take you? Don't let your expectations deceive you... Who knows what you'll find? Note: These are writing prompts and my responses to them. Enjoy! Cover background i...