“Pretty lady, a flower?” I sealed my velum against my nasal passage to block the fish stench of Monastiraki Square. Then I see him. His green eyes drive deep into my soul as he pulls me into himself.
“Jacqueline, my delight. How I’ve missed you.”
“And you, my love.” I lean into his kiss.
“Pretty lady, you like a flower?” Jose bats away the vendor like a fly.
“Everything is handled. We leave on the 3:15 train.”
“I’m packed and ready, Darling.”
Doll, you have made the right decision. We are so good together.”
“Of course we are, my dear. You’re delightful.”
“Pretty lady, flower?”
“Back off.” Jose flashed a steeled look. “Don’t make me lose character.”
Not a muscle of the vendor moved, except his eyes. He raised them quickly to mine and then looked away. A move not missed by Jose. He raised his fist—
“Stop, wait,” I said.
“Jacqueline?” In that awkward moment, I wished I was like mama. Bold. But I was a coward. I couldn’t get the words past the hammer in my chest. The earthquake of my own doing was splitting my world in two.
“Jose.” I looked into his eyes at the green sea of confusion. “Coward, coward,” rang over and over in my head. I willed myself to bare my soul.
Instead, I reached out and picked up the rose from the vendor.
I couldn’t meet his eyes. “You love me more than I love you.”
“No. We are good, baby doll. Come, let’s catch the train.”
The vendor touched my shoulder. “We should go.”
“Jacqueline. What’s going on?”
I allowed myself a glance into his eyes, “I”m sorry, Jose. I never loved you.” I turned, linked my hand with Edwin, the vendor, and walked away.
This flash fiction contest was to write 300 words or less. The theme was Casablanca. I hadn’t seen the movie so I watched a few YouTube clips. I was intrigued so I rented it. I realized how far TV has come in the last 70 years. Not only was it in black and white, but the characters used facial expressions instead of many of the props we have today. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it.