A Change of Plan

Prompt image for the Fandango's Flash Fiction prompt

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #123, where we write about this piece of art by Chin H. Shin:

Hmmm… Being single again did have some advantages, thought Christa, as she rose out of the dripping metro station at the Place d’Italie, straight into the deluge. At least she did not have to go out again tonight, no pre-arranged date for which she was expected to become soaked. Her eyes were firmly set on a take-away, a chick-flick, and a cosy evening at home. Now, what did she fancy tonight? A nice teriyaki, perhaps?

But, first things first. Satisfied at present to dream about tonight’s banquet, she had more immediate plans. Having been standing all day, her feet were killing, and her top priority was an obscenely long soak. Carrying six scented candles, unused Christmas presents, into her bathroom, she took a towel to dry off her short. dark hair, and started running the tub, deeply sniffing some potpourri before throwing it in, then using way too much bubble bath.

As she waited for it to fill, she stared dreamily at the tub. It held some good memories, that tub, of those shared baths when they had first met. Those stolen brushes against his skin. Feeling that oh-so-soft towel envelop her, and afterwards, feeling him envelop her.

Christa was startled back to reality when her iPhone flashed into life. Her best friend Caroline’s face appeared on the screen.

“Hi Christa, just a quick one. I just wanted to see where you wanted to meet later?”

“Later?”, her off-guard response betrayed an air of surprise.

“Yes. You said you’d come to Rico’s opening tonight, remember?”

Oh, fuck! Rico was Caro’s brother. He was opening an exhibition tonight and it had totally slipped her mind that, in her drunken state last week, she had agreed to go. In truth, she enjoyed his sculptures, loved the smoothness of his pieces to her touch. But she looked through the window at the terrible evening that was unfolding, and began to backtrack.

“Oh, Caro, I’m sorry, you don’t mind if I cry off this one, do you? I just had a really shitty day, my feet are killing me, it’s pouring outside, and I just filled the tub.”

“No way, lady, you promised. Loads of other people have dropped out because of the weather, so he needs to see some friendly faces there. You can’t let me down.”

“But…”

“No buts, Christa. You owe me one. Who was it comforted you after all that shit with Pascal?”, referring to how crushed Christa had been after the break-up just three months earlier. “Hey?”, she laboured her point. “You owe me, bigtime.”

“I’m sorry…”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, you know how much this means to him”, Caro hissed, before ending the call.

Shit, thought Christa. She really did not want to go out tonight, but Caro was her oldest friend. She could be temperamental at times, but Christa had few enough close friendships, and she didn’t want to harm any. And yes, she knew how big this was for Rico, how big it was for Caro, too, to see her baby brother do well. And besides, she had agreed…

It took Christa just five perturbed minutes in the tub to make her mind up. Climbing out, she patted herself with a warm towel and picked up her phone.

“Hi, it’s me. I was out of order. I know I promised. Of course I’m coming. I can be there in an hour. Where shall we meet?”

“Thanks Christa.” Caro uttered graciously. She sounded pacified, relieved. “I’ve arranged to meet Marianne at the Bisous d’Or at 8:00 PM.” Christa knew the bar well, from her time with Pascal. “We’re having a quick drink, then we can just walk up to the gallery from there. Join us?”

“Sure, I’ll see you then. Sorry, Caro.”, before the line went dead. She paused a moment – she had not been to the bar since… but at the same time, she needed to bury the ghost of Pascal, and what better opportunity than with her two friends for support?

Glancing at the phone again, she saw the time. Shit! She had better get a move on if she was going to meet the girls in time.

Addendum

Incidentalle, a few days later I wrote a sequel to ths story.

Author: Mister Bump UK

Designed/developed IT systems in finance, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing mainly health-related software from home, plus some voluntary work. Married, with a grown-up, left-home daughter.

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