“With less sunlight, it was difficult to see Anna. I scanned the park, looking for her figure, for her hair…'”
by joel willians
Anna lay on the blanket pulling great, fat clumps of grass out of the earth. Her vanilla bright hair hung like a curtain, covering her face, disguising her expression. She seemed to be concentrating so hard on ridding the park of its vegetation that I was surprised to hear her speak.
“You know, your wisdom is more apparent to me everyday.”
“I said your wisdom is more apparent to me everyday.”
I nipped her elbow. “Are you taking the piss, miss?”
She jumped to her feet in one fluid move, half ninja, half gymnast. The wine bottle fell over. A pool of red gurgled over the blanket, and before I had to time to put it upright, she kicked it away.
“Have you gone insane?” I said.
She shook her head so hard her boobs jiggled “It won’t work. You are wise enough to know that.”
I couldn’t stop staring at her breasts. They were perfect.
“Lewis! Look at me in the face.”
I apologised. This was not new. In the five weeks since I met her I’d been saying sorry all the time. It wasn’t that she ever asked me to, but I had a nagging feeling that I was with her for the wrong reasons. The physical reasons.
“Today, this very second, I’ve decided I will go back to Finland. You are wise and you know it cannot work. You don’t want the real me strong enough. ”
She picked up her bag and started to walk away. I jumped up and ran after her, grabbing her shoulder and spinning her round. A man with a black dog stopped and stared.
I pulled Anna closer. “What are you talking about?”
“I am not stupid. You think this is just for fun. If not now, you will think it soon. And it will be over and that will be that. I am saving us the trouble. That’s all.”
“No, I’ve never thought that,” I said looking at the ground. “Please stay. I’ll do anything for you to stay.”
She sighed and gazed across the green. “Okay, do something unwise for me. Do a silly thing. Run to that shop.” She pointed to a newsagent on the corner. “Run there as fast as you can shouting my name and buy the biggest chocolate bar you find.”
“If I do, will you stay?”
“I hope so,” she said with a half smile.
It was enough. I sprinted as hard as I could, yelling her name. Even when my lungs burnt and my breath came in short, hot gasps I bellowed it over and over again. It felt good, a penance for not seeing beyond her hair and smile and boobs. When I reached the newsagent and saw she was still there, I felt better than I’d ever imagined. I punched the air and rushed inside. Rather than one, I bought her three of the biggest slabs of chocolate I could find. I wanted her to see I meant business. It wasn’t much, but it was a beginning.
Back outside, clouds had mugged the sun. With less sunlight, it was difficult to see Anna. I scanned the park, looking for her figure, for her hair. There was the man walking his dog. Beyond him, a bustle of kids playing football. She must be lying down, I thought, and ran back to the blanket even faster than I’d left it. But the only thing lying where she’d been was a piece of paper. I picked it up with a trembling hand. There were words written in big letters. “This is better. I’ll miss you. Please miss me.”
And I do. More than I’d ever imagined.
British born, Joel Willans works as a copywriter for a Helsinki ad agency. When not thinking up ingenious new slogans, he writes stories. He’s been published in a variety of magazines and four anthologies. This year, he plans to stop being placed, shortlisted, longlisted and not listed in competitions and actually win something. More of Joel’s stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.