Flash Fiction: Emotionally Available by LJ Frank

A rendering of a rose

It was a rather dry, dusty morning with an unusual rain in the afternoon forecast. There was a slight smell of algae in the air from the distant sea as I sat at the small table sipping my chocolate tasting coffee. Minutes vanished as I read the English translation of the city’s Sunday newspaper. A scattering of people spoke aloud in regional dialects at nearby tables situated next to an expansive window.

A funnel of sand danced above a semi-arid landscape, against the backdrop of a cerulean blue sky and then disappeared as it crossed the highway.

Waiting, I sipped my coffee and glanced down at the paper. A few columns filled with stories and thirty-five minutes later. A third cup of coffee was about to warm my gut. Customers entered and departed. I looked at my phone. No messages.

I sighed, checked the calendar on my phone when I felt a delicate hand with long fingers on my shoulder.

“My god I’m so sorry,” she leaned over speaking in my ear.  “I had to stop by the antiquities gallery, then after retrieving my car I realized my phone was dead and the traffic…well…I”

“You exist.” I said, looking into her large dark brown eyes with wisps of black hair dangling down her cheek.

“I exist…as you witness.” Her eyes smiled as she sat down across from me and folding one leg across the other.

This was the second time we met. The first time was through the antiquities dealer where she worked. The dealer was an acquaintance who attended the same university as me years earlier. He dealt in rare works of art including papyrus scrolls.

“The first time we met…it was much too brief.” I said.

“Which is why we’re meeting now,” she said, her foot touching my leg. A moment can be an eternity. She looked around to see if anyone might have noticed more out of habit I supposed.

“You mentioned you were in-between affairs the first time we spoke with each other?” I asked.

“Beyond a doubt.”

“May I ask?”

“The affairs were business. Rare treasures.” She winked.

“I didn’t mean…that is, to sound like I was prying or was I?”

“Would it matter? I want you to know more. It’s unusual to become vulnerable when we really don’t know much about each other. I mean, this being just the second time.”

“I agree. In what direction are you headed?”

“My philosophical or theological compass?”

“Judging can be emotionally exhausting.”

“I agree.”

“Options and opportunities?”

“You could say that.”

“May I ask something a bit more personal?”

“Of course,” she said with slight grin emerging on the corners of her lips.

“How does one pursue intimacy within the given context?”

“With great care.”

“And relevancy?”

“Indeed. I wouldn’t be here if I thought it wouldn’t be relevant to the experience of life itself.”

“Passion?”

“Texture on the canvas of life. My external environment affects my inner one. Deterministic quality I suppose.”

“Do you perceive that you have a will?”

“I rationalize that I do. I try not to show too much of my nakedness. Just enough to effect curiosity. And you?”

“Being open with myself which makes it easier to being open with others, at least I reason…while trying to limit the harm to the participants,” I noted.

“In other words, having your heart available, naked and vulnerable, while hoping it doesn’t get compromised?”

“It’s more than a perfunctory moment of the sensual.”

“Intimacies have a place on the textured canvas of existence don’t you think?”

“Yes. They offer a being-ness…like taking in the fragrance of particular flowers in a garden.”

“Such flowers can have a seductive scent.”

“Hm. Do you find pleasure in cultivating your flower garden?”

“The forecast is for moisture this afternoon. What do you think?”