Inspired by a Melody is a monthly feature where we write flash fiction based on a song.
Sometimes it’s really hard being a survivor of emotional abuse–especially when one needs to keep their shit together and not freak out around a new dude they’re dating. Which is exactly where Fiona found herself on Fourth of July morning.
Wyatt had planned the entire day. They were getting together with her friends and his friends–the first gathering including people from both sides–at his condo. He’d reserved this pavilion and had the details down. After an afternoon of lawn darts or something, the group would pack as many bodies as possible in as few vehicles as possible before heading to a huge fireworks display over the river.
It was a great plan, and sounded like a wonderful day–Fiona was happy-excited–but she couldn’t shake the coiling tightness in her gut which made her feel like puking.
Vomit definitely doesn’t go with this sundress. She smoothed her palms down the emerald green linen, threw her shoulders back, and took a deep breath. And then another. After the third, she was a little calmer.
“Hey, Fi? Do you have a cooler we could take to the fireworks?” Wyatt walked down the short hallway with a towel wrapped around his hips.
Fiona turned toward him. Her lip began to quiver.
“Hey, if you don’t have a cooler, it’s okay. I was just thinking we could use something smaller than the wheeled number I have filled with beer and water for the afternoon.”
She shook her head. “I’m just nervous and freaking out about this afternoon. I know I need to leave past experiences in the past, but it’s really hard when this is the point in my previous relationships where people started drifting away.”
“While a towel probably isn’t the appropriate attire for the conversation we’re about to have, it’ll have to do.”
Through a film of tears, Fiona watched Wyatt’s sure steps as he crossed the space between them. Then, he guided her backward a few steps, and settled her on the couch before adjusting the towel and sitting next to her.
One of coils in the pit of her stomach loosened.
As he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and nestled her into his side, she twisted to mold her body to his. She took another deep breath with a shuddering exhale.
“When you’re ready. Let me know what I can do to make it better.” The pads of his fingers stroked up and down her arm.
I don’t deserve him. He treats me too well. Or, maybe I’m just not used to this. “I’m nervous about this afternoon. When Robbie, Margot, and Sarah met Will, they tried to actually talk me out of going out with him anymore. Then, when I didn’t, they gradually faded out of my life. I don’t know whether I can handle something like that happening again.”
He tipped her chin with his thumb and index finger so she had to look at his face. His hair was a bit of a mess from towel-drying, and his beard needed some straightening.
“I know Margot, Robbie, and Sarah already. They all thought we should meet. Can’t say they were wrong. Next concern?” He brushed his lips against hers, stealing away another coil of angst.
“What if your friends don’t like me?”
“Not gonna happen. I like you lots, and they just want to see me happy.” He kissed her again. Another twist of anxiety released.
“No. No what ifs. Be with me. In the moment. Whatever happens, happens. It’s nothing until it’s something. I’m with you, all-in. I just need you to tell me what you need from me. If I can do it, I will. Don’t push me away or let the past define who you–who we–are.”
Then, time seemed to stand still as the remaining coils of uncertainty unwound from the pit of her stomach. One final deep breath and Fiona relaxed into Wyatt’s arms.
“How do you always know the perfect thing to say?”
“I don’t know. It’s just…easy with you. I’ve got you until you want me to set you free.”
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