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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2265155-Sunset
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2265155
Back in my day, the sunset hit differently.
Back in my day, the sunset hit differently. Sure, it was a beautiful backdrop, but my thoughts were far from the defining factors of beauty or thought-provoking conversations, at least not until I met Hannah. Her smile turned my heartbeat into a ticking clock, reminding me I'd been staring. The ticking intensity thickens, ticking louder, faster. Like an alarm come to life with the sole purpose of waking my soul from its mundane existence. Only to send it crashing; her smile was not for me. Her heart had already begun building a foundation, connecting with someone else's heart. My heart began digging so hard it felt as though it would burst. Pressure filled my lungs until I had to release it. When she left the room, her dark brown curls trailed behind her, steadying my heartbeat like a metronome, her perfume drifting away suffocated by the cafeteria food. She left the cafeteria, but the imprint of dimples and brown tipped green eyes, skin I bet would tingle and shock me if I were to touch her, that stayed with me. So did a bruising punch to the face knocking my gaze off of her and into darkness. Yep, he, her boyfriend, punched me. KO'd on the university's cafeteria floor. I imagine it caused a raucous, but I was too busy...resting...to pay attention to it.


If you think that stopped me, you would be correct. I did NOT approach Hannah. I did, however, join the choir to be near her. The sweaty palms and tense muscles were worth it to see her engulfed in something she loved doing. I'd be lying if I said the fear of being caught by her boyfriend didn't make me anxious. When that longhand landed on the six every week, it felt like a snake squeezing me, refusing to let go until his lips stopped marking their territory. I tortured myself this way for two months. Not because I gained courage, but because I quite literally bumped into her at the library. I knew it was her before my eyes had a chance to focus. I was right; her skin was tingling and shocked me. The jolt shot through me, heating my blood, rushing from everywhere to my brain. My brain nearly fried, sending so many signals throughout my body, it put me into temporary paralysis.


"Sorry. I keep saying I need to stop texting and walking." Hannah's laugh reverberated through me like a guitar amp. My nerve endings were vibrating, trying to connect. I turned around painstakingly slow, part hoping she would be gone, part hoping she wasn't.


"No, no. It's my fault for walking backward." I grimaced and ducked my head when she laughed. My hand gravitated to my neck, rubbing away my embarrassment.


"We can share the blame. Wait, I've seen you before." My heart stopped. "Choir, right?" She saw me. She noticed me. My smile couldn't be hidden.


"Uhhh, yeah. I've been in there for about two months now."


"I'm Hannah."


"Daniel." She hugged me and set my entire body on fire. It took my brain a while to signal my arms to hug her back, but when they did, they locked and squeezed; she didn't stop me.


"Well, it's nice to meet you, Mr. Daniel." And she was gone.


I saw Hannah crying on a park bench, two weeks later; her boyfriend was nowhere in sight. Hot lava flushed to my face, and I clenched my fists. I was ready to hunt him down, and I didn't even know why she cried. I took three deep breathes and relaxed my hands and shoulders before walking over. I sat beside her and nodded, acknowledging I was here for her. We didn't talk for a while; we just stared out. When all you have to do is watch, you notice things normally mundane differently. I wouldn't have thought a bird interesting before watching two birds fly around each other as if they were playing a game or maybe flirting. Not knowing the difference made me want to watch more. Even people seemed more interesting. The sun was beginning to make its descent when Hannah finally spoke.


"We broke up." She was still looking out at the world, but my eyes were waiting to see hers again.


"Want to talk about it?" She laid her head on my shoulder.


"No."


"Then we should talk about that poor kid barely hanging on to his dog." Her soft chuckle shook my shoulder, and I felt her body relax. We watched the sun make its way to the other side of the world, while I made her laugh until her stomach ached between profound observations I never thought I would notice. Things she seemed to seek out. After that, the sunset hit a little bit differently.



Word Count: 799
© Copyright 2022 S. E. Mabson (semp83 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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