My entry for A Drop of Romeo's Round 11 of Star Crossed (the bench prompt).
When Corrine was fourteen, she practiced kissing on starbursts and cherry stems. She considered this tongue-jaw workout as an intense bootcamp as she didn't particularly like starbursts, nor cherries. But as soon as she started this "smooch training" her mother started buying cherries and starbursts every time she went grocery shopping. It was her small attempt at connecting with her daughter. After dinner she would proudly bring out a bowl of cherries as they shared simple conversation. It was these cherry filled moments that her mother remembered the most. Corrine would brush her teeth after these meals and subtly pocket the cherry stems for later. She went to sleep these nights with still slightly red stained teeth and hopefully better kissing skills.
It wasn't until Corrine was fifteen that she had her first kiss. Mark Venington. She remembered his chapped lips and rough, boney hands that grabbed her waist as they kissed on the beach after a bonfire birthday party. It wasn't something necessarily spur of the moment. He was in her English class and their eyes would occasionally lock. Corrine often wondered if he was looking her way on purpose, or if it was just a series of coincidences that sparked her small crush. And of course when he showed up at that same beach bonfire party, she seized the opportunity to go on a walk with him as the party started to fizzle out. She took the initiative and he met her halfway.
She was in no way in love with him, but she experienced the first feeling of heartbreak when he expressed no interest in seeing her again that summer.
It was that same summer that she confessed to her mom that she actually despised cherries. She still remembers her mom's smile falter with a bag of cherries in her hand as Corrine finally revealed the truth. Corrine would eat all the cherries in the world to erase the look on her mom's face. It was that summer that Corrine learned that heartbreak takes on many different forms.
At seventeen Corrine obtained her first boyfriend. Larry Richards. They were together for seven months before graduation, which is when they decided to end things between them. After seven months they hadn't fallen in love, and with graduation just around the corner, saying goodbye was becoming a habit anyway. It was the most poetic way to end their relationship. It was specifically the morning after graduation. They sat on Corrine's front porch and made the decision together. There was something so formal about it that they shook hands. This caused them to laugh. They hugged and he kissed her gently on the cheek before walking away, both of them laughing through the end.
Corrine had sex for the first time with Larry on prom night. There was something about the cliche that she adored. They split a hotel room that night. The sex was awkward and short and bad and filled with nervous giggling from both of them. They had sex a few more times before graduation, but they could never quite figure it out.
Freshman year of college, Corrine had sex with three different guys. They were all somewhere in between boyhood and adulthood- not quite boys, but not quiet men either. There was something she enjoyed about the casual nature of these relations, but something that felt foreign to her as well. She didn't fall in love or romantically pursue any of them. She learned quickly that dating was a rarity in college, especially with the wrong guys.
It wasn't until junior year of college that Corrine fell in love for the first time. Steve Bourin. They met at a mutual friend's production of Romeo and Juliet. Melissa was playing Juliet's understudy. Both Steve and Corrine received an excited text one afternoon announcing that the actress playing Juliet got food poisoning from one of the dining halls and so Melissa would be performing that night. They both reserved tickets through her and thus were seated next to each other.
Steve was the one who first broke the ice during intermission.
"I always thought Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy."
He turned to her while she was mindlessly flipping through the program. "What?"
"It's funnier than I thought it was. I mean, isn't it supposed to be one of the biggest tragedies ever written?"
Corrine couldn't help but smile. "They both die in the end."
"Wow, spoiler alert."
"Yeah, it's a big surprise ending that nobody ever talks about."
This caused Steve to chuckle. "But seriously, this is my first time seeing it. I didn't know it was so funny."
"Yeah, I guess that's what makes it so sad in the end."
"Right," Steve paused to look back at the stage. "You a theater major here?"
"No, I'm actually engineering with a linguistics minor."
"Oh shit, so you like never sleep?"
Corrine laughed. "It's all about time management. And I enjoy it, so it's not too bad. I got a lot of the intense classes out of the way next year, so now it's just time to get my thesis together. What about you? Theater?"
"Business and psychology. I just know the actress playing Juliet."
Steve nodded. "Yeah, we were in intro to psych together and she texted me this morning."
"Yeah, Melissa lived on my floor last year. She's always letting me know about these shows and I finally was able to make it to one."
The lights started to dim as Steve leaned in and put out his hand. "I'm Steve by the way."
Corrine found herself having a difficult time paying attention to the second act. She found herself glancing over at Steve and thought he might have been leaning a little closer to her every so often, but that also might have been her imagination.
Even in her distraction it was impossible not to notice the gaping minute of silence that was Melissa forgetting a vital line. Melissa just stood on stage, completely still and silent until one of her fellow cast members saved her with an improvised line. Steve and Corrine shared an "oh fuck" look after it happened, which brought Corrine back to focus on what was happening on stage.
The play ended, and as the actors all took their bows, they could clearly see Melissa putting on a poker face.
The curtains closed, leaving Corrine and Steve to stand up and walk out of the theater together.
"What did you think?" Steve asked.
"I liked it. They did a good job."
"Yeah," he paused. "Did Melissa..."
Corrine nodded. "Yeah, I think she messed up a line."
"I mean, it wasn't that bad."
"No, but she looked pretty upset."
They made it outside the theater to wait with the other audience members. It only took a few minutes for Melissa to come rushing out.
"Congratulatio–" Steve started, but Melissa didn't even stop to say hi to them.
"I need a drink," she declared before dragging them outside.
They went to the local small restaurant that remained open 24/7 for drunk college students - the majority of their business.
"I didn't even notice it," started Corrine.
"Yeah, I thought it was just a creative choice. I just thought 'oh wow, she's just so in the moment, she's really thinking the thoughts of the character,' you know? Isn't that what acting is?" continued Steve.
"Shut up," Melissa responded, shoving a plate of fries in her mouth while drowning them in over-priced beer. "I fucked up. And Sarah's going to get over her food poisoning by tomorrow night, so this was the only chance I got to play Juliet this weekend. I mean, fuck. Everyone's just going to remember me as that girl who fucked up the one night she was Juliet. She'll never go anywhere in life."
Corrine and Steve both shared a glance, causing them both to conceal their giggles. Maybe one of the reasons why they kept Melissa around was the intensity she brought to everything, even the slightest mistakes.
"I honestly think people didn't even really notice. I mean, it's Shakespeare, so people don't really understand what's happening most of the time anyway, right?" argued Steve as he tried to snatch one of her fries. Melissa slapped her hand away. "You didn't understand what was happening?"
"No, of course I understood, I'm just sayi-"
"Oh my god, you didn't even understand what we were saying. Oh my god, be honest, how horrible was it? Who did you understand? What did you like? What did you think of the lighting?..."
This went on for the entirety of their meal until four beers and two shots later, Corrine and Steve were practically carrying Melissa back to her dorm room.
"This was the most embarrassing night of my life," Melissa mumbled as Corrine tucked her into bed with a glass of water next to the bed.
"By next week, you won't even remember it," Corrine reassured her as she made sure Melissa gulped the glass of water and slept on her side before turning off the lights.
Corrine and Steve quietly stepped out of the room and made their way outside.
"Well, I guess I'm headed this way," Corrine pointed in the direction of her dormitory.
Steve shrugged. "I can walk you back. I'm just a few minute walk away from here and the night is young."
And thus the walking began. Corrine's nerves got the best of her and she found herself continually wiping her sweaty hands in the pockets of her sweater. She remembered him laughing loudly at a lot of her jokes that would only garner a small chuckle from her other friends. There was a slight breeze in the air - the ending of summer, but beginning of fall.
Corrine remembered the twenty seconds of silence they shared in which their eyes found each other and they both just smiled. When she went to sleep that night, she promised herself that she would keep that particular memory forever.
Fifteen minutes and quite a few laughs later, and Corrine stopped in front of her dormitory.
"This is me," Corrine said, glancing up at the window she knew was hers. The light on indicated her roommate being home, so she knew there would be no invitation upstairs.
"Oh, cool," Steve stuttered out almost as if he was surprised that they would ever arrive at her place at all.
"Yeah, um, well..." Corrine trailed off, not quite sure how she wanted their conversation to end.
"Tonight was a lot of fun."
"Yeah, Melissa will probably be hungover tomorrow, but I'm glad that we were there for her."
Steve laughed. "Yeah, but that water will help."
There was a moment of silence. They both looked back at the door.
"I guess I should head upstairs now."
"Right," Steve paused, trying to formulate what to say next. "So, I'll probably see you around?"
Corrine nodded. "Yeah. Goodnight."
"Night," Steve said before waving and walking away.
Corrine unlocked the front door and was about to walk in when she heard Steve.
Corrine peaked her head out of the door frame. "Yeah?"
"It was nice meeting you tonight," he said with a smile.
Corrine couldn't help but smile back. "Yeah, you too."
She kept a smile on her face for the remainder of the evening.
The next time she saw Steve Bourin was two weeks later at 1AM on a Thursday night. She was walking home from the library when she saw him standing outside a dormitory on campus yelling to a window on the third floor.
"Dude, at least throw down my clothes," Steve yelled.
He was wearing nothing but his boxers. The awkwardness of the situation made Corrine want to walk past just to avoid any embarrassing encounter. But curiosity got the best of her and so she approached.
"Oh fuck, Corrine!" he yelled as he pulled her into a tight hug. In their close proximity, she could smell the beer exuding from him.
"How have you been?" he asked, stepping away.
"Uh, good. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
Corrine looked up at the window he was yelling at. "Well, you're kinda half naked."
Steve looked down. "Oh fuck, right. I lost a bet."
"And my roommate brought home a girl and locked me out. So, here I am."
"Wow, how long have you been out here?"
Steve shrugged. "Like twenty minutes? And my shitty roommate," he yelled at the window, "turned his music on so he can't hear me."
"How much longer do you think they'll be?" Corrine asked.
"Last time he had a girl over he locked me out for the whole night, which is fine if I had some clothes."
Corrine couldn't help but giggle to which Steve scowled. "Yeah, maybe I'll laugh about this tomorrow."
Corrine kept the smile on her face and nodded in the direction of her dorm. "I live a few minutes away from here, come on. You can crash at my place tonight."
Steve put a hand on his heart. "I would never put you out like that."
Corrine laughed and unwrapped the scarf from around her neck. She put it around his shoulders. "Come on, Steve."
He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, almost effectively tackling her, and kissed her cheek. "You're like an angel."
He stepped away from her and stumbled a bit. "I think I'm drunk," he realized, eyes wide. His genuine shock just made Corrine laugh again as they walked back to her place.
Once they got to her dorm room, Corrine put a finger over her lips, indicating Steve to remain quiet. "My roommate's sleeping."
Steve nodded as she unlocked the door. She heard someone wolf-whistle as she closed the door behind them.
The small light from the window allowed Corrine to bring Steve over to the small futon her and her roommate bought at the beginning of the semester. It was nights like this she was grateful for the purchase. She took one of the pillows and an extra blanket from her bed and put them on the futon.
Steve giggled. "Hotel service."
"Just without the small shampoo bottles," Corrine said through a smile.
"Damnit, I want my money back."
She put him down on the futon and he immediately laid down and wrapped the blanket around him.
"I'll be right back," she whispered.
She brought him back a cup of water, which she forced him to gulp down. She was about to get up and bring him another cup of water when he grabbed her arm and brought her face directly in front of his.
For a moment Corrine thought he was going to kiss her, and even in his drunken haze, she wasn't planning on stopping him.
Instead, Steve just said, "I hope I don't throw up."
Corrine let out a hearty laugh. She immediately put a hand over her mouth and glanced over at her roommate who hadn't even stirred. Corrine leaned away from him and stood up.
"I'll bring you a garbage bag just in case."
By the time she came back with another cup of water and a garbage bag, Steve had fallen asleep with her scarf still wrapped around his shoulders.
The next morning, Corrine unfortunately had a morning class and thus had to leave before Steve woke up. She left a post-it note stuck to the cup of water.
Had to leave to class, but I left you my snuggie if you want it to walk home.
She folded her red snuggie and left it next to the futon. After a moment of hesitation, she wrote her cell number down next to her name.
An hour and a half later, Corrine's roommate woke up to Steve wearing a snuggie and sipping from the cup of water while writing something down on one of Corrine's post-it notes.
"Um, hello?" Corrine's roommate asked, her night retainer still in her mouth and her hair half covering her face.
"Morning!" Steve responded.
He stood up, and handed his post-it note to her roommate. "Can you give this to Corrine when she gets back?"
"Sure," she mumbled.
Steve then walked out of their dorm in nothing but his boxers and Corrine's red snuggie.
That entire Friday, Corrine couldn't help but consistently check her phone. When she received no texts, she would check her Facebook to see if there were any new friend requests at least. Her disappointment grew, thinking that maybe Steve wasn't really interested in her. Or maybe he just didn't see her note? Or maybe he was actually still asleep on her futon.
These thoughts plagued her mind throughout the day until she made her way back to her dorm. Her roommate pulled off her headphones when Corrine entered.
"Your uh, man-friend left you a note."
She pointed over to her desk. Corrine immediately threw down her bag and rushed over to read it.
Thanks for lending me the snuggie. Dinner tomorrow night? 8PM Eddie's?
Eddie's was the local Italian restaurant near campus. It was always crowded with college students because it was nice enough to pass for a classy-ish restaurant for students on a tight budget.
Corrine flipped the note over, looking for a number to text him her response, but he didn't leave one.
8PM Saturday night came around and despite her lack of communication with Steve after his invitation, she wore a simple dress with her boots and a jacket and walked over to Eddie's.
Standing outside the restaurant was no other than Steve. He was glancing at his phone when she approached him, but as soon as he saw her, he put it in his jeans pocket.
Corrine smiled. "Hi."
"So up until like two hours ago I was kinda bummed that you didn't text me about dinner, but–"
"I don't have your number."
Steve nodded. "Yeah, I realized that and I feel like an idiot for not just texting you."
"Well, I made it."
"I would have felt like the world's dumbest loser if you hadn't."
"That's pretty harsh, but I guess it's a good thing I showed up."
"I would have had to eat alone, and how embarrassing would that have been," Steve said as they walked into the restaurant, the smell of delicious bread and pasta immediately overwhelming them.
It was midway through dinner that Corrine realized she had not gone on a proper date since high school. Yeah, she'd talked to guys at parties and even would get the occasional coffee, but not a dinner date. She forgot how much she thoroughly enjoyed the activity. It was at the end of dinner when Steve covered the check and Corrine offered to cover the tip that she realized it may not have been the activity of the date itself, but rather the company it was shared with.
After dinner, they walked around campus together for an hour and a half. Corrine found herself desperately wanting their hands to brush and him to hold her hand, but every time her hand would brush his, she heard his speech falter just a bit as he took a step a little further away from her. He ended up putting his hands in his jeans pockets to avoid the hand brushing. Corrine couldn't tell if Steve did this out of nerves or genuinely not wanting to hold her hand. She decided not to let herself over-think it.
As the evening continued on, they stopped in front of his dorm.
"So I guess you should come upstairs to get your snuggie."
"You know, I was kind of worried that you were trying to steal it from me."
Steve opened the door for her before they walked up the stairs together. "I'm not going to lie, I definitely thought about it. It was extremely comfortable, although I did get a lot of strange looks on the way back yesterday."
"Hey, better than if you stayed in your boxers."
Three flights and a couple doors down and they made it to his room. "If there's anything disgusting, it's my roommate's."
He turned on the lights and it was clear that one side of the room was tidy while the other had clothes and empty pizza boxes and beer bottles thrown around.
"I wasn't kidding. Rick's a slob."
Corrine turned her attention immediately to Steve's side of the room. She enjoyed studying the posters on his wall and the books on his shelves as well as the other decorations that lined his side of the room.
"You're super organized for a guy."
Her eyes made their way over to the jar of orange and red starbursts sitting on his desk.
"Not a fan of the yellow ones?"
"What?" Steve asked as he leaned on his desk. He turned around to see what she was looking at. "Oh, no I actually love the yellow ones, so I pick them out. Want one?"
She picked up the jar.
"You wanna sit?" he asked, pointing to his desk chair.
Instead, she sat next to him on the desk, still holding the jar in her hands. "In middle school, I would try to un-peel the wrappers in my mouth. Someone told me it would improve my kissing skills, or lack thereof, I guess."
"Yeah, I practiced on cherry stems."
"Oh, I did cherry stems too."
Steve picked a red starburst out of the jar. "You were committed."
He eyed the starburst. "Let's see if I can get the wrapper off."
He popped the red starburst in his mouth and started moving it around. Corrine couldn't help but laugh at the determination on his face. Moment later, he took out the wrapper from his mouth. It was soggy and looked chewed up.
"That was disgusting."
"It was a burden I thought I had to bare as a young pre-teen."
He walked over to his trash bin and threw out the wrapper before spitting out the starburst. "Oh my god that was so disgusting."
Corrine put the jar down next to her on the desk. "We all make mistakes in middle school."
"How does that help with kissing? Unwrapping it was all in the teeth."
Corrine opened her eyes in false horror. "Doesn't kissing just involve a lot of aggressive biting?"
"Wow, I'm guessing you've shed a lot of guy's blood."
Corrine stood up and walked to Steve. "I just figured it was normal."
She kept walking until their lips were just a few inches away from touching. He smiled at her. "Should I get the stitches ready?"
Corrine was about to say something when Steve started laughing. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry that was horrible."
"Yeah, I was going to say your snuggie line was a lot smoother. Like a lot smoother."
Steve's eyebrows furrowed. "What snuggie line?"
Corrine took a step away from their close proximity. "Uh hey, we should go upstairs for your snuggie," she said in her best "Steve" voice and gave a dramatic wink.
Steve put his hands up in the air. "I had very modest intentions. We don't have to do anything. I like talking to you."
"No, seriously. That wasn't a come on or anything. The stitches line was, but that was horrible and I would kindly like it if you erased it from your memory forever."
Corrine stepped closer to him again. "I think it's burned pretty deeply in there."
Steve took a small inhale once Corrine put a delicate hand on his chest. She leaned in closer to him and he pulled slightly away. "We don't have to do anything if you don't want to," he whispered.
Corrine brought her other arm to wrap around the back of his neck. "I know."
She leaned in and as he met her fifty percent of the way, her eyes closed. His arms wrapped around his waist as they moved slowly over to the edge of his bed. His rough hands countered his soft lips, which tasted like cherry. Corrine couldn't help but giggle as she shrugged her jacket off her shoulders.
Three years went by pulling Corrine and Steve closer and closer. They graduated together and moved to New York after graduation. They shared a small apartment, even though everyone told them it was a bad idea to live together so early in a relationship. They made valid arguments to appease their parents, but they really just didn't care - as long as they were together everything would be ok.
Nothing was going smoothly, but they were happy. There was a weird mold in the kitchen, cockroaches in the bathroom, college debt. Corrine was able to find a small job at a tech company, but Steve struggled and spent most of the days job hunting. Even so, they were happy, and that's all that mattered.
But one day Corrine received a phone call.
That day, when Steve came home he saw Corrine packing her bags frantically.
"Where are you going?"
Corrine pulled some clothes out of the dresser and stuffed them in her suitcase. "I have to go home for a little while."
"Ok...are you going to tell me why?"
Corrine closed her suitcase and started trying to zip it. With all she had stuffed in, the zipper stuck and wouldn't get around the corner. She started yanking and before she could could even ask for some help, tears welled in her eyes and she felt Steve wrap his arms around her.
"Corrine, you have to tell me what's wrong."
She turned around so her face was hidden into her chest.
"My mom has cancer," she whispered, followed by a loud sob.
Corrine was in Connecticut for eleven straight months and held her mother's hand through her recovery. She quit her job a few weeks into chemo. Steve came by on weekends when he could, but Corrine found herself pulling further and further away from him.
When Corrine's mother was officially "cancer-free," Corrine was the one to arrange the party for friends and relatives. Steve of course came with a bouquet of flowers and a wide smile on his face.
"Guess what," he whispered, wrapping his arms around her waist as she started cleaning up once the guests had trickled out.
"You're going to do all the dishes while I take a nap?"
Steve chuckled and started piling the dishes to take into the kitchen. "I got a job."
Corrine set the dishes she was holding down on the table and bounced on him. She kissed him and pulled him into a tight hug.
"Oh my god, that's amazing! What's the job?"
"This museum in San Francisco was looking for an art historian. Apparently one of my old professors suggested me. We did a Skype interview and I just got the call yesterday."
The smile immediately disappeared from Corrine's lips. "San Francisco?"
"Yeah. It's just like New York, but without winter."
"Steve," she took a step back from him. "I'm not going to San Francisco."
"What?" he started picking up dishes again. "We always talked about how we didn't want to live in New York forever, maybe one day see what all the California fuss is about."
"One day, not today."
"Honey, this is the first real job I've been able to find in two years. I can't just give that up."
Corrine picked up her dishes and started walking to the kitchen. Steve followed close behind her. "I know it's sudden and far, but I think this will be good for us."
"I'm not leaving my mom."
"Corrine, she's better now. She can take care of herself, and she has family and friends surrounding her. Were you going to move to Connecticut?"
Corrine turned the faucet on and started washing filling the sink with soap and water.
"No, I would come on weekends. I'm sure I'll be able to get my job back."
"You hated that job. Come on, I already did some research and you can get your pilot's license in San Francisco. I'll be making more money now, so you can start training."
Corrine dropped another stack of dishes in the sink, causing some water to splash over them.
"Look, I'm not moving to California any time soon. Steve, my mom almost died of cancer. I'm not going to start packing my bags to go to the literal other side of the country. You're smart, have a good degree and a great resume. I'm sure you'll find a good job here. Maybe that professor that suggested you knows some people here?"
Steve looked down at the sudsy water. "Yeah, maybe."
Four months later, Steve moved to San Francisco. They gave up their tiny apartment and Corrine moved back with her mom in Connecticut. They tried long distance for five months. The weekend of New Year's Eve, Corrine flew out to spend it in San Francisco.
A seven hour conversation and what felt like buckets of tears later, they decided to end their relationship on January 1st.
The car ride was silent on the way to the airport. They hugged silently after she had her suitcase out of the car. He kissed her on the cheek and she whispered, "Goodbye."
Before she entered the airport, she turned around and saw him wiping away tears in his car before driving away.
Two and a half years later and Corrine received a text from Melissa.
Hey girl! Just got cast in a play in New York. Shows go up June 1st. Let me know if you're still in the city and I'll get a ticket for you. We should grab dinner after one night!
So, on June 13th, Corrine wore her favorite black dress and sat in the third row of a small theater on the lower east side. She mindlessly flipped through the program while waiting for the play to begin. She felt someone sit down next to her, but she didn't look up until she heard him clear this throat.
Her eyes widened as she saw none other than Steve staring at her.
"Hi," he whispered, his voice cracking a little.
"Melissa didn't say you'd be here," Steve said, not taking his eyes off of her.
"You think she put us together on purpose?"
Steve shrugged. "Knowing Melissa, she probably didn't even realize."
"Yeah, probably just a coincidence."
Corrine looked back at the stage, desperate to look somewhere that wasn't at Steve. She cleared her throat and looked back at him. "So how long have you been back in New York?"
"Just the week actually. Melissa texted me and I figured why not go to New York for a week? I had some vacation days saved up."
"Cool," Corrine nodded.
Twenty seconds of silence filled the air.
"So, um–" Corrine started before the lights dimmed and the audience started applauding for the show to begin.
Corrine chuckled nervously and looked at the stage. She felt Steve's eyes pressing into her until the curtain rose and the lights came up.
The first act was an hour and fifteen minutes long. Corrine found herself paying attention to maybe seven minutes of the play. The other hour and eight minutes was spent urging herself not to look back over at Steve, and more importantly, trying not to cry.
The curtains closed for intermission and the audience lights turned back on. From the corner of her eye, she saw Steve shift in his seat. She had to take a few deep breaths to keep the lump in her throat from exploding.
"I have to go," said Steve as he stood up. "It was nice seeing you, Corrine."
And before she could say anything, he was down the aisle and rushing out of the theater.
A moment of hesitation later and she grabbed her small bag and was down the aisle herself going after him.
Once she got outside the theater, she saw his frame amongst the chaos of people and yelled, "Steve!"
She caught up with him and looked around.
"Can we talk?"
She pointed to the diner across the street.
"I don't think that's a good idea, Corrine," he said coldly as he began walking away.
"Look," Corrine started. "I'm sorry, Steve. But I think about you all the time and you're here and I just want to talk."
Steve paused and looked back at the diner. "Just a few minutes," he mumbled.
They both ordered decaf coffee even though they were both more tea people. It just seemed easier that way.
Steve was the one to break the silence at the diner.
"I think about you too," he whispered, pouring a packet of sugar into his coffee.
This was enough to break the barrier that was holding Corrine's tears in. She saw one drop into her coffee mug and wiped the rest away.
"I thought about calling you, but I don't know."
"Why didn't you?"
"Why didn't you call me?"
Steve looked down at his coffee. "I didn't know what I would say."
Corrine nodded. "I was mad at you for a really long time."
"You were mad at me? Are you kidding me?"
"It took both of us to end our relationship and you know that. Don't blame everything on me," Corrine reasoned.
"You refused to support me in something I actually wanted to do," Steve argued.
"Of course I supported you, but you were asking me to leave my mother who just had cancer and to just pack up everything and move across the country. Of course I would have loved to go to San Francisco. But what was I supposed to do? I couldn't just abandon all the responsibilities I had here."
Corrine took a sip of her coffee and winced at the bitterness of it.
"Did you really think I could leave everything so easily?" she continued.
"It was supposed to be a temporary move. For a year or so."
"Yeah, real temporary now. Three years later and you're still there."
"What the fuck else was I supposed to do, Corrine?"
"You could have called me!" she nearly screamed.
A few other diner customers glanced their way, causing a few moments of silence to fall between the two. Corrine wiped away a few more escaped tears from her cheeks and took another sip of her dreaded coffee.
"For a while I just kept telling myself you'd eventually come. Like one day I would get a knock on the door and you'd just be standing with your suitcase. Like a fucking idiot."
"Part of me wishes that I did."
Steve sighed. "And part of me wishes I had just stayed here."
There was something about the impasse that made Corrine almost smile. "So what do we do now?"
Steve leaned forward on the table and put his hand out. Corrine leaned forward as well and put her hand in his.
"I guess we should go back to the theater and congratulate Melissa and lie and say we stayed for the whole play."
Corrine surprised both of them by laughing. Steve remembered how much he loved hearing that sound. "Or we can just see it again tomorrow."
Corrine moved even closer, their lips barely touching.
"I really missed you," she confessed.
"I missed you too."
She leaned her forward against his. "I guess we have a lot of figuring out to do."
"Yeah, but we can do that later."
And with that, he pressed his lips to her own.
Corrine smiled through this soft kiss because even through the harsh taste of bitter coffee, he still tasted like cherries.
Thanks for reading!