'Waiting for the Past' by Vicky Newham

‘Here you go, love!’ The waitress plonks the mug down on the cluttered table, slopping milky liquid on the photograph.
Cursing under his breath, Danny snatches up the faded, browning image and with a handful of shiny napkins dabs at the card and then blots the pool of liquid which is spreading on the plastic tablecloth.
The waitress appears oblivious, stacks the used crockery and bustles back over to the counter with it.
Danny checks his watch again. Sighs. Swipes the touch screen of his phone with his index finger.
Nothing.
He opens his novel at the book mark. The third time in an hour. Frustrated with having to keep re-reading the same sentence, he closes the book and lounges back in the plastic chair, gently rubbing the two day stubble on his chin with his fingertips. The scratching sound soothes him. He glances up each time the aluminium wind-chimes announce an arrival, crashing disappointment following each dart of adrenaline. Where is she? She’s late now. Has she been held up? Chickened out?
Doubts crowd in. The sort of niggling anxiety which eats away at faith. Should he have made more of an effort? A haircut perhaps? When they spoke on the phone, she hadn’t been convinced. They’d missed their chance. Wasn’t it better to let sleeping dogs lie? He’d pleaded of course, convinced her in the end.
But that was two weeks ago.
The lady at the agency had emphasised the need to have low expectations. She was right, of course, but how could he? After all this time.
‘You’ve got to protect yourself,’ she said. ‘Don’t think that this is going to be everything you’ve always wanted. It might lead no-where. It’s been a long time for you both.’ Her sing-song-y voice had floated round the room.
How many times before had she said the same thing? And how often had the outcome been positive?
‘In this situation people often agree to meet but change their mind. Get scared and don’t turn up. It’s understandable.'
But Danny was sure that she would come. She’d promised.
The photograph catches his eye: the two of them on a bench by the duck pond. How innocent she looked in her uniform. Vulnerable.
Ding ding.
He sees her come in. Petite, dark hair, she’d said. A pink top. Age about right.
She clocks him. In the corner. Panic spreads over her face. She turns back for the door, dodging a table.
Danny’s heart sinks. He’s about to jump up and shout out.
Then she stops in her tracks, turns and inches towards his table. Her eyes dart, her outstretched hand shakes. Blotches creep up her neck and she’s trembling now. ‘Danny?’ It’s a whisper.
He leaps up and the mug goes flying. Thirty six years he’s waited. His whole life. To fill in the gaps about who he is, and why she gave him up. ‘Mu-um,’ he stammers. ‘I’m so pleased you came. I knew you would.’

FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015. In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories? More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.

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