Chapter 8

Written by: Donna McTavish

Fran’s fingers closed around the soft pouch. She turned towards Nelson and his heart lurched as he watched her jaw tighten and relax as she tried to figure out what she was holding. He had seen that same muscle twitch many times before when she was concentrating hard and, in that small movement, one that she was not even conscious of, he felt the full impact of what he had done to her. It was like a knockout blow to his solar plexus.

“It’s uncut diamonds” she said, playfully weighing up the pouch in her palm. “I can feel them rolling around.” Nelson snorted loudly. “Or maybe an expensive necklace?”

“M&Ms. That’s what they are!” she exclaimed triumphantly. “You always brought me M&Ms …” Fran’s voice faltered. She remembered when he had brought her presents. Silly things like a single flower from the park or a perfectly ripe peach, or a packet of M&Ms. He always picked out all the blue ones because he knew she didn’t like them.

Nelson studied her closely. It was like watching a silent movie playing in her unseeing eyes.  Shadows flickered backwards and forwards and as her moods changed so did the light in her eyes. He could see the brilliant green circle flecked with amber around her pupils as she turned her full attention on him.

“So what is it?” The moment had passed and she was cold and perfunctory again.

Nelson reached for the velvet pouch and carefully shook some red and blue marbles onto her open palm. He deftly removed a delicate ring, an emerald surrounded by a tiny cluster of diamonds, as it fell lightly from the pouch, and slipped it into his pocket.

“Marbles,” he said with a false brightness. “Do you remember the cheeky boy who gave us his marbles before we left Chi Phat? I thought you should have them. He gave them to you, not to us, and I thought…”

The light in Fran’s eyes flashed and went out. “You thought you could use them to make me feel bad about not going back there with you,” she said. “You thought you could use them to emotionally blackmail me into it.”

Nelson pushed his chair back. He’d gotten it all wrong. Damn Marjory for encouraging him to come. Fran hated him and he deserved everything she threw at him. He stood up quickly and the sudden movement made Fran flinch. He had to go and they could both forget this had ever happened. He was an idiot and his cheeks burned hotly with embarrassment at the thought of the ring in his pocket. He was glad Fran could not see it.

Fran dropped the marbles onto the table and he scooped them up and put them in the pouch. She lowered her head into her hands, gently shaking it from side to side. When she looked up her brilliant green eyes were full and tears were running down her cheeks.

Comments

I love this chapter Donna. What tokens of a shared past. The MandMs and the marbles....simple but full of meaning. I think detail is what brings a character alive and you've done with by describing how her jaw works when she is concentrating. Very good indeed.
Just the right balance of detail and emotion. I love your sensitive portrayal of Nelson and Fran. They come across as very real people. Great chapter!