Smooth as a Fresh Cup of Pour-Over Coffee

Musical Selection: L.T.D.|Holding On (When Love Is Gone)

Flash Fiction

I didn’t think he’d see me staring at him. I tried to fiddle with the People magazine in my hand — darted my eyes over the cuckoo clock above the Barista’s head.

He spotted me. And I couldn’t backpedal, couldn’t turn away fast enough. He was the color of pre-evening with onyx eyes and a James Earl Jones voice.

My entire body convulsed when he said, “I think you dropped this.” I looked down and he was holding my pen. I had been tackling a crossword puzzle, and the sleek writing tool must’ve escaped my grip when I saw him.

“I, uh … Yes, that’s mine.” I started tripping over my words. What was I doing?! Where was my head? I dragged the pen from his grip.

“I’m Loyal.” He extended his very manicured right hand to me.

“Um … I’m trustworthy.”

He giggled. I heard cherubs singing. I hadn’t caught the humor until he casually said, “No. Loyal is my name. Loyal Manor.”

His hand was still waiting for mine. I slapped it nervously, cupped it, then gave it two quick shakes.

“Oh! Oh! Haha. My apologies. I’m Grace … Grace Baron. It’s nice to meet you, Loyal.”

I glanced over at the Barista, who flawlessly prepares my order daily, and she flashed me a wink.

“Well, I’ll let you get back to your puzzle, Grace. Will you be here tomorrow?”

“WILL I?! I mean … Sure, I’ll be here.”

The dimple in his left cheek made my acquaintance, and I became as giddy as a schoolgirl. Everything about Loyal was smooth as a cup of pour-over coffee, and I wanted to learn more about him.

“Okay, then. I’ll see you tomorrow, Grace Baron.”

“Uh huh. Yes. Yes, you will.”

He turned to exit the building, and I knew it was rude to watch, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The Barista tipped her hat in my direction, and flashed me another wink. The server bought me a second cup of coffee and patted my hand. A piece of paper bounced off my knuckles.

There, on a strawberry-scented blueprint piece of stationery, was Loyal’s phone number.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Alone With Himself Without Her

Photo by Asheesh via ReShot

Flash Fiction

He hadn’t known she would leave first thing in the morning. The argument they had the night before tested the strength of their relationship. They had failed. They were failing - he was blind to it all before. The colder side of his bed lured him over and he turned to lie in the space she left. His heart pulsed and his hands twitched. His pillow was wet. Had he cried while he was asleep? Why couldn’t she have waited to say goodbye?

The bedroom was dark - no light had entered during the morning hours. He limped over to the window and pulled the curtains back - opened the blinds. He would make a fresh, hot pot of coffee. It was something she’d always done, but she was not there. 

While the percolator purred, he checked their closets. All of her things were gone. The skis they purchased together the year before were too. She’d always said she’d take those if they split. She kept her word. He searched the bathrooms for reminders. A few strands of her auburn hair rested at the mouth of the sink - waiting to be washed down. He feathered them gently between his two fingers before releasing them. 

The sound of the running water prompted tears to fall. He stood there - buck naked and unashamed - alone with his tears. He took two deep breaths and sat down on the toilet. This was a thing Ava hated - him spending far too much time in the bathroom - far too much time on the porcelain throne. Far too much time sheltered and shuttered away from her. He sighed. His world had been crumbling - cracking - and he would not pick the pieces up in time to move on.

***

He poured the piping hot coffee into his favorite mug. The quote on it said, “Go be great. Then, sleep.” Ava hated the mug. But he drank from it every day, anyway. The morning sun pressed itself on his stony face and found its home underneath his eyes. Tuning the radio, he selected his favorite channel to listen to some music. The last thing he needed was a blast from the past that led him to more thoughts of Ava. More tears. More momentary solitary seconds of surefire sadness. He wept . . . He wept . . . He fell into the pits of depression.

Roxette–It Must’ve Been Love

The day was beginning without him, and he knew he had to shake himself free from the tight grip of melancholy. He had a presentation at work in two days and, knowing his boss as he did, he knew he would need to make some last-minute changes. Ava would help him with his presentations by sitting and listening to him as he mock-presented his work. She would critique and applaud and give him the support he needed.

He set up the area, created the projection onto his living room wall, and talked to an invisible audience. Halfway through his concept, the tears crept in once again. He lowered his body to the floor and sunk into the plush carpet. He’d call in sick - surely he could not work today. As soon as he reached for his phone, a message appeared from Ava.

“Hey, I’ve forgotten a few things. I’ll be over before you head out to work. Shouldn’t take long.”

He read the message five times before settling back into the floor - his body curled into itself, alone with his thoughts of . . . her . . . and the reality of the end of them.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt, Originally published via Simily.

time will tell

he doesn’t know
love escaped in
the middle of the night

he slept a good chance away
she’ll never return
she’ll never stay

he kicks at the pillows
and tears down the drapes
clutches his heart in disbelief

this isn’t his fate
oh, but it is
is he ready for a life

of brutal honesty and loneliness
time will tell
or will he kill time too

So, You’re Thinking About the Last Time You Kissed Someone

And if it hadn’t been for that one commercial, you probably would’ve forgotten it.

The words “Heart Breaker” are painted in white on a jean jacket or jean pants.
Photo by Michelle Cella via Redshot

Have you seen the “First Kiss” Hershey’s Kisses commercial? You know the one with “Eric” mentioning all the positive aspects about the kiss while “Lisa” shares the negative aspects about it? Yeah, that one. The first time I saw that commercial I thought to myself, “What is this business? I hope they’re not an actual couple.” But then I thought, “Hmm, when was my last kiss?”

I mention my last kiss because I clearly remember my first one. I was thirteen, in my last year of junior high, and gearing myself up for high school in just a few months. My boyfriend was a tall, heavy, beautiful black young man, who was originally from Florida and played football for our school.

He would go on to be scouted for a high school other than the one I was expected to attend and make quite the name for himself.


We dated for three years. He got a head-start on cheating on young women well before his late teens and our breakup was disastrous. His mother adored me and I loved her. I hated that her son and I ended the way we did. But we grew to respect each other enough to be cordial as we got older.

He even asked me out again, which was quickly shut down before he could mumble any other words. I had my fill, and I wanted no more of him.

But our first kiss, although hurried and done in a sneaky way, was also extremely memorable. His lips were full and had just the right amount of moisture. There wasn’t a lot of tongue — just enough to be coaxed into a soft lulling — eyes temporarily closed, heart racing.

We pulled away from each other and smiled. Then we held hands. We were official.

I am certain that for as long as I live, I will remember that kiss. It taught me many things about love and lust and being lost all at the same time.

Have you thought about the last time you kissed someone? If you did, where did it lead you? Hopefully, you didn’t scramble down the rabbit hole as I did.


My last kiss . . . When had it occurred and with whom was it? This was my struggle topic. But the more I saw that commercial, the more my memory bank deposited blips of its happening into my view. I believe I blocked it out because he is married now — happily married.

For some odd reason, I have it in my spirit that I am not supposed to think about things that brought me joy if the person with whom that joy had been shared is married to someone else.

Is it wrong? Does it mean I lack respect for what he has gained? Am I allowed to reminisce and not fall for those memories once again? Can I?

One thing I loved most about our relationship was kissing and his hugs. He gave “come-to-me-bear-hugs” and I would lose myself in his embrace. He would also do the forehead kiss, then lift my face to his — my lips to his, and I would melt for him.

We didn’t last. We couldn’t last. But we remain friends.

When he sent me the invite to his wedding (to view it online, because, you know, a global pandemic), I was excited. I pondered about what to get the soon-to-be-married couple. I decided on matching aprons, a book about lasting love, and his and her “married to” bracelets. I beamed looking at the photo of the two of them and nodded my approval.

He deserved this — to be happy — to find his match. I tell anyone willing to listen that we had a great thing. It just wasn’t the right thing. Our schedules never meshed. He worked odd hours, and I had a job that required a lot of me and my time.

It was only fitting for him to reconnect with someone from his high school days, fall in love with her once again, propose, and the rest is history. His being happy makes me happy.

But his was the last kiss I had — the last real kiss. My ex after him never drummed up enough sensual intensity within me to move us from dating to intimacy. I just couldn’t connect with him in that way, and eventually, we called it quits. It was well overdue.


But that commercial . . . That damn commercial. If they did not produce it, would I still have that last kiss memory buried deep inside my mind? And now that it has returned, what am I to do with it?

I think one day soon, I will hoist it back to the lone corners of my mind only to be conjured up once again when “the last kiss” is up for discussion.

It has a home. Maybe it will end up there again for safekeeping.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

He’s Getting Married - No, Not to Me

And, I couldn’t be happier for him

To my surprise, on August 29, 2020, I opened my mailbox to their invitation. One of my exes and his fiancé are marrying soon. I guess I cannot really call it a surprise. I knew I would receive an invitation. He and I spoke about it, but I buried it in the recesses of my mind and sort of forgotten about it, until yesterday. This will not be a belligerent recanting of how I am hurt or upset or even bitter. I am undeniably happy for him and his wife-to-be.

*Jay is a catch. He is a man I would be more than happy to recommend to a woman deserving of him. He’s intelligent, witty, creative, and in touch with his feminine side — he is a listener who heard me every time I had something to say. And if there was action needed for us to work, he stepped into that action. We just did not work, and there are reasons for that — all of them outside of our control.

I think it’s important for couples in intimate relationships to recognize when the spark disappears and is no longer attainable to move on from one another in that realm. Jay and I stayed friends — good friends, the kind that check up on each other and have lunch or dinner with each other when he is in town. We had/have so much in common, and that remains. But, I knew, years ago, I did not want marriage. And even if we had made it as a couple, I doubt, if he proposed to me — I would have said “Yes.”

Learning of this significant news caught me off guard. I’d sent him a text message one evening, as I am apt to do from time to time and we sort of fell into a discussion about life and he later said, “Hey! Did I tell you I am getting married?!” To which I replied, “You most certainly did not!”

I wish I could describe the overwhelming feeling of elation to you in my response. I want this for him. I have always wanted him to find happiness and whatever he believes that to be — it is my hope it manifests.


I gazed at the invitation for a long time. I looked at him and his beautiful wife-to-be and smiled. I shook my head in disbelief — this is happening! Jay is getting married. And I smiled again. The background image is of the two of them, standing in a record store, holding up an album, and on it are their names imprinted announcing the date. I thought to myself, “This must have been his idea.” We both love music and it is one of the first things that connected us to each other.

Now, this woman, this beautiful person he found to spend the rest of his life with, will get to enjoy his talents and all of whom he is.

They prepared for the times in which we live. Because of the global pandemic, the number of people who can physically attend is limited, however, they will stream it live. I will be in attendance from the comfort of my home. I will also send them a gift. I am more than happy to share in his joy in this capacity.

I wanted him to know I received their invitation. I sent him a text message that read: “My invitation came! Thank you! It’s beautiful and I’ll be in attendance from the comfort of my home. I’m so happy for you!” Knowing him as I do, I knew he’d respond within moments — that’s just him. And he did with, “Lol. Ok. Cool. Glad you got it. Did you have any questions about the live stream? And thank you!!”

When I think about who he truly is and who I truly am, we couldn’t last — not on that level, but as friends? There is a beauty to who we are as friends that needs no explanation. I love him and want only the best for him. I have watched his siblings grow up, begin their own families, move away to cultivate and enrich their lives, and I now know he is doing the same.


Four years ago, I may not have been as equipped to feel this way for him — to want him to find true happiness outside of being with me. I held on to some emotions that needed releasing and extracting from my system decades before, but this is what aging does — this is what growth does — it allows you to reflect on what you need to change deep within you and put it into action.

Because of this, I can tell you with no doubt, I am happy, truly happy for this man I once loved intimately and passionately to begin his life anew with his wife-to-be. I wish them wedded bliss–and anyone with evil intentions cannot harm or touch it. And should they want children, that they are happy, healthy, and equal parts of both of them.

He’s getting married and everything in me shouts in elation. And nothing else.


*Not his real name.