A Previous Life – A Short Story

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 11.47.29 AMLast night at dinner with my friend, Elizabeth, she mentioned that she enjoys reading my short prompts and short stories on the blog. I haven’t written one in a long while, so this morning, I found a prompt that I decided to tackle. It goes like this:

Write a scene whereby two people think that they have met before–whether in this lifetime or a previous one.

This one’s for you, Elizabeth.

A PREVIOUS LIFE

The bar was dim, and there were few people in the place at the moment, because it was still early. The 80s music played in the background, and he caught himself tapping his foot to the sound of Aerosmith. He’d met her only briefly, but was compelled to invite her for a drink. He sensed a pull to her that he hadn’t experienced before, something that was drawing him to her for some inexplicable reason. It was, quite frankly, irritating that she’d been on his mind ever since they met in the supermarket as they were both buying coffee for their Keurigs.

“I’m a big fan of Hazelnut,” she had said. “Can you reach that box up there? I’m too short to get to it.”

The box was up high, and he stretched to grab it, as it was way in the back on the top shelf. She thanked him for getting it for her.

“Hazelnet’s good,” he said. “But I like strong, dark coffee.”

“You’ll want the Starbucks cups then?”

“Yes,” he said, “Although I do like Peet’s Coffee, too.”

They stood examining the selection of coffees, mulling them over, and both agreeing that Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is the best.

“You seem so familiar to me,” she said in a matter-of-fact kind of way.

“You as well,” he said, and from there a 20-minute conversation ensued whereby they both tried to figure out common connections and if they knew one another. That exercise drew no conclusions that they had ever met, were acquainted with the same people, or had ever come in contact with each other before. However, by the time she had to go, he didn’t want her to leave, and he invited her for a drink.

“Tonight?” she asked.

“How about tomorrow,” he said.

“Okay,” she said. They picked the very bar where he sat waiting for her to enter the door to have a drink with him.

He looked at his watch. He hated lateness, and worried that she may not make it on time. That would be a strike against her.

But his fears were assuaged when she walked through the door with two minutes to spare.

She waved and smiled at him as she approached, and he was both relieved and glad to see her; he hopped off his stool to pull her stool out. There was a glass of water on the bar, and being a gentleman, he had waited for her so they could order their drinks from the bartender together.

“You look nice,” he said, as he helped her settle in, then seated himself beside her back on his stool.

He looked nice, too, she thought, a far cry from how they both looked yesterday in their workout clothes having both exercised and then shopped for coffee for their morning routines.

After ordering two glasses of red wine, he asked her questions about her job, what she did, and they talked about their families. She laughed a lot, and the lines around his eyes deepened from smiling so much while he was with her.

The ease of it, he thought.

She chatted on about some of the things she’d been doing during the day, and described a funny lunch date she had with an old friend. It was as if he’d known her for years.

She listened while he talked about his business, the inordinate amount of emails he receives in a day, and the never-ending comments he must respond to on social media. She was interested, engaged. Her eyes brightened while he spoke. She felt as if she were sitting next to an old friend. The conversation flowed and was comfortable, and she and got up the nerve to say so out loud after spending a couple of hours together.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but I feel like we’ve met before.”

“Me, too,” he said.

“No, let me clarify that,” she said. “I feel as if we were together—an item—in another life.”

“Were we famous?” he asked teasingly.

She laughed. “If we weren’t Victoria and Albert or Bonnie and Clyde, then no. We were probably just us. In different clothes in a different time. Or maybe we were cavemen or even Adam and Eve?”

“Okay, then,” he said, laughing.

“Actually, I’m being serious,” she said. “I just feel a strange connection to you for some unknown reason.”

He wondered if this was a come-on, the way she would let him know she was interested in pursuing this relationship further.

She wondered if she’d said too much, as if she gave away too much of herself in that one setting and sentence.

But instead of the statement sitting between them awkwardly, he put his arm around her, and she leaned into him, comfortably.

“All kidding aside,” he said, “I know exactly what you mean.”

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STEPHANIE VERNI is the author of THE POSTCARD AND OTHER SHORT STORIES & POETRY (2018), INN SIGNIFICANT (2017), BASEBALL GIRL (2015), and BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE (2012).

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