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The Missed Opportunities of Days Gone By

“Hello?” I said into the phone, accepting the call from a number I didn’t recognize.

“Hey,” the feminine voice on the other replied, as though I should know the sound of her voice.

At a loss, I said, “Can I help you?”

“It’s Brooke.”

Her name stopped me. It couldn’t possibly be her. We hadn’t spoken in years, a decade perhaps. “Brooke?”

“Yeah, Brooke Baker. This is Mark, right?”

Jesus Christ. It was her. “Yeah, it is Mark. Brooke. Wow. How are you? It’s been a long time since… well… since anything.”

“I know.”

“So, how are you doing?”

“Okay, I suppose…” Her voice belied her words, though. Something was up. “I… It’s just been so long and I guess I wanted to hear your voice.”

“I don’t think I had a number for you. Ever. I offered a couple of times, but…”

“I was a brat back then.”

And that’s how a random phone call turned into a two-and-a-half hour catch-up session. We spoke of everything under the sun: people we still knew, how different we were, how the same we were, how everything had changed. We both admitted to each other a long lost desire for one another, a fire that had burned out. It was a heat that was long past.

We spoke of our relationships, where we were now, both married, neither with children, myself divorced.

The conversation ended abruptly in a way that was beyond my comprehension. “Damn it,” she said. “Chris is here. I’ve got to go.”


“My husband.”

And without so much as a customary goodbye, the line went dead.

The rest of this story is available in the collection "Cupid Painted Blind" available on Amazon for the Kindle.


mo.stoneskin said…
You told it beautifully.

The end?
Hi Bryan thanks for posting this! Brooke and Mark are so authentic, and so is the tension between them. I particularly enjoyed the glimpse of Mark's moral dilemma (the Jekyll over the Hyde), Brooke's cautious but obvious coquettishness and I loved it when Mark desperately searches through his phone to alleviate the awkwardness of the situation. Such genuine characters! Love it!
Anna Russell said…
Great write Bryan. I love the way you've left the ending so ambigious - stories like Mark's and Brooke's don't have neat little bows to tie them up, so it makes the whole thing more authentic.

(I have to be pedantic again though - one wee typo. You wrote "sword" when I think you meant "sworn").

The only part I'm not sure about is when you describe the feeling of it filling you like a warm meal. I'm not sure that's the right simile for the discomfort and conflict Mark must be feeling.

But that's just a small thing, I really enjoyed reading this and I was hooked from start to finish. It was very well paced - which can be the hardest thing to achieve in a story.
Unknown said…
Mo: I think it's the end.

Valerie: Thanks for stopping by. I'm enjoying your stuff, so it's great to see it reciprocated.

Anna: I fixed the typo AND the simile. You were right. And it's funny you pointed that one out. I struggled for a long time with it, settled on the meal and moved on and forgot about it.

I think it worked much better now.

All: Seriously, I'm glad you guys liked it. I was terrified about this one. It seemed like too much work on my end for too little pay off... I poured more work into this one that I felt it deserved and still wasn't satisfied, so it's very gratifying to hear your approval.
Unknown said…
Works. Works much better now.

I wish there were a way to fix typos in bloggers comments.
Pat at a loss said…
You are getting good at dialogue and inner thought. I liked Mark and his honesty, at least in his heart, but I hated Brooke. I guess that is a good sign when one feels strongly about the characters. I felt like Mark was walking into something very dangerous mayb even life threatening. Tell him to ditch that broad. Pat
Norm Jenson said…
It's a keeper, not Brooke the story.
Thomas Bergin said…
hey Bryan,
i really enjoyed this story,
i have written a short story in a while and just typed in short story blog on google and happily stumbled upon this!
my favourite thing about this story is how subtly fleshed out a character Mark is, with his drinking nights, and his innability to find anyone worth texting in his life,
im hoping to get some more short stories on my blog,
i only have a couple of old ones at the moment
mmm mmmm said…
Hi, I'm always looking for short stories to read. Really enjoyed this one. Kept me hooked all the way. It was well paced, allowing my mind to feel the scene and to worry about Mark... what is he getting himself into?
I've only just come across your site, loook forward to reading the old and newwer ones :D
Anonymous said…
Ok.. it was good, well paced, tensioned, and pressure building, imaginative... and really enjoyable..

BUT Where's the ENd... I xpected differently... not a sexual thingy... bt something different...+
Lukalock said…
i LOVED this one, bryan. honestly. i read it a couple times over... amazing.
Rhiannon said…
Hi I am a friend of Valerie's.

Your writing has officially distracted me from my work for a good 30minutes. Love your work!
Carbonated Love said…
love it! great story with very real circumstances. It's also cool how it seems like mark's subconscious knows how it is going to end, but he doesn't want to admit to it. Mr. Hyde seems to be working in the background.

I think I'll subscribe to your feed.
Anonymous said…
a long post indeed..but i loved it completely..beautifully written!!:-)


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