Flash Fiction Friday -- This Love Story Holds No Promise

Tracy Stengel

Photo byNika Tchokhonelidze/Unsplash

Faye circled the city for the fifth or sixth time, peering through the drizzly darkness. She pounded her fist on the steering wheel and blinked back angry, frantic tears. Why did she always fall for empty promises?

Never again, baby. I promise.

I’ll never leave you again, sweetheart. I promise.

I’m going to change — for real this time. I promise.

Faye parked in front of the neon sign. It was too nice of a place to give her much hope. It was a sports bar, the kind with big-screen TVs and fifteen-dollar burgers. It was a long shot, but she had to try.

She ran inside, cursing herself for forgetting an umbrella. The sound of pool balls crashing together mixed with speakers blaring an old Bob Seger song.

As Faye approached the U-shaped bar, she scanned the crowd for messy, coppery hair and listened for the distinctive voice that made her heart hurt.

No luck — she had to move on. As she approached the exit, she heard her name.


She froze. Her stomach flipped as she turned to face Kevin. “I … hi.” Heat rushed to her cheeks.

“What are you doing here?” His eyes smoldered with a cocktail of hurt, anger, and suspicion.

Faye winced. “I’m just leaving.” Over her shoulder, she said, “I’m sorry, Kevin.”

Kevin followed and grabbed her elbow just as she reached her car. “You can’t just blow me off! You said you were going out of town this weekend! Is there someone else?” His face scrunched up as rain pelted his face.

Faye sighed. “Get in the car, Kevin. You’re not even wearing a coat.”

Faye started the engine and turned on the heat.

“Faye,” Kevin’s voice sounded strained. “The last three months have been the best three months of my life. When I suggested we meet each other’s parents, you freaked out. What gives?”

“I can’t handle any more promises. I just can’t!” Faye snapped.

Kevin drew back as if she’d slapped him. “I’ve never promised you anything! What are you talking about?”

Faye’s shoulders slumped. “You can’t meet my parents … they aren’t like yours. This isn’t going to work.”

Kevin reached for her hand. “Divorce is hardly a big deal, Faye. Just because my parents have been married for thirty years doesn’t mean their life is all Martha-Stewart-perfect.”

Faye emitted a cross between a laugh and a sob. “Yeah, well my dad’s serving a life sentence for armed robbery, so …” Her mouth clamped shut. She hadn’t meant to tell him that.

Kevin squeezed her hand. “I had no idea.” He shrugged. “Even Martha Stewart spent time in the slammer. I’m sorry it happened to your dad. But that has nothing to do with you and me.”

Hot shame gurgled through Faye’s veins. “Your mother’s a teacher, and your dad’s a psychiatrist. I don’t need Freud to tell me they wouldn’t approve!”

“You own a high-end boutique and just started selling your own fashion line. That’s amazing! I’m proud of you, Faye. My parents will be, too.”

Faye’s face crumpled. No one had ever told her they were proud of her. Ever. In seventh grade she taught herself to use a battered Singer sewing machine sticking out of dumpster because she tired of wearing clothing from church basements.

Faye leaned her head into Kevin’s chest. Oh, how she had missed him!

Kevin gave Faye a squeeze. “Hungry? Let’s go back inside. My buddies and I just ordered a pizza.”

“No, I can’t. Kev …” Faye squeezed her eyes shut and blurted, “My mom is missing. I have to find her.”

Kevin raised his eyebrows. “Missing?”

Faye sighed. “She’s been in and out of rehab since I was fifteen. She takes off sometimes. Afterward, she always promises me that was the last time,” she whispered.

“Oh …” Kevin said.

“This is so embarrassing. She’s an addict and … does stuff with men to get money when she’s using. I’m afraid for her.”

Kevin shook his head. “You’ve been dealing with this all on your own? For years?”

She nodded and stared at her quivering knees. “On and off.”

He reached for the door handle.

“I don’t blame you for leaving. Just go!” she spat, realizing she was being abandoned — again.

“Stay here,” Kevin growled. He ran back in the bar and came out with his coat on.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going with you.”

“Trust me, you don’t want to get involved.”

He tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “I don’t throw precious things away. I love you, Faye.”

“We may be out all night!”

Kevin shrugged and gave her a wink, “I’d never miss out on a chance to spend the night with you.”

Faye surprised herself when she giggled. “Are you sure?”

“You’re never going to be alone again.” Kevin held her face in his hands. “I’ll never going to promise you anything. I’m just going to spend my life showing you.”

And then, he sealed his words with a kiss.

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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