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Poetic Justice: A Short Story

Updated on May 30, 2014

I left the newspaper lying there on the coffee shop table, the only indication that anyone had sat at the table in the past few hours. The shop had been unoccupied when I left; even the employees were in the back of the store, taking inventory or taking a nap. Whatever the reason for their absence, lack of coffee shop personnel was of little importance to me today.

I hadn't planned on running off; I have always had strong scruples, scruples that say running away from your fears is wrong and a sign of great cowardice. I would like to believe, however, that my act of desertion was a display of noble cowardice. I ran away for a good reason.

I have been stood up before, and I know how terrible the feeling of knowing that someone doesn't care enough to give you the time of day. He wouldn't have cared though. I showed great noble cowardice by leaving him to find an empty coffee shop, save for the old newspaper from last week that I had been using to distract myself from the nerves at my impending meeting with him.

What would you have done?

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I have no idea why we decided to meet after all this time anyway. I haven't seen or heard from him in years, not even one phone call. Suddenly he takes it into his head that we need to meet in an obscure coffee shop downtown and "talk." I don't know why I agreed to the request. Maybe he really wanted to pick up an old friendship. Perhaps he wanted to mend the canyon he dug between us. Or he could be wanting to gloat about how his new life has turned out, without me. "Our relationship was never worth pursuing," he might add as an afterthought.

I will never know, for ten minutes before his arrival, I ran. It's funny, really. He ran away from me years ago, and now I'm doing the same to him. Poetic injustice. Noble cowardice. Whatever you want to call it, the fact remains the same: I ran. I will never know the true reason why he wanted to see me again, when I thought he had forgotten about me.

I turned back a few blocks ago, just to take a peek in the plated glass window of the coffee shop and find out if he kept the meeting. He did. He was sitting at the table, the newspaper lying there, black, white, and limp, ignored. Just like I had been for the past several years since he left. His face was buried in his hands and I almost felt sorry for him. I turned on my heel and walked toward home.

Maybe I should have kept our meeting. Maybe I shouldn't have left. Who knows, if I hadn't left him at that lone table in the coffee shop, we might have been able to work things out. Then again, if he hadn't left so many years ago, we wouldn't be in this situation. If he hadn't left, I wouldn't have had to run away from my father like he ran away from me. But I suppose he got what he deserved.

Poetic justice.

So why do I feel so empty?



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    • Elizabeth Bowers profile imageAUTHOR

      Elizabeth Wilson 

      4 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I was deliberately trying to keep it vague in order to create said curiosity, so that I could get people to think and sort of draw their own conclusions. Thanks so much!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Elizabeth, I enjoyed reading this very much. But I don't know enough about both characters to know why she did not go in and find out why he left her.

      Curiosity killed the cat (I know), But satisfaction brought him back.

      Welcome to HubPages, new friend.

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile imageAUTHOR

      Elizabeth Wilson 

      4 years ago from Tennessee

      @Phyllis Doyle Thank you very much! I think I would probably do the same, but I guess I wouldn't know for sure unless I was in that exact situation. It's an interesting thing to ponder on, though. Thank you! :)

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Very interesting story. I would have waited for him -- if I left, I would never know for sure how it would have turned out. Yet, we all do what we must for our own reasons. Very well-written hub.

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile imageAUTHOR

      Elizabeth Wilson 

      4 years ago from Tennessee

      @Jackie Lynnley Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      @ShinyM Thank you. Honestly, I probably would have kept the meeting too. But at the same time, resentment and hurt can cause you to do things you normally wouldn't do, so I don't know... It's an interesting thing to consider, though. Which, I suppose, is why I wrote the story in the first place. :) Thank you very much. :)

    • ShinyM profile image


      4 years ago

      Your votes are pretty split. I think I would have kept the meeting. Only for my own curiosity, not to satisfy his wishes. I enjoyed reading this.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very good; I truly enjoyed this.

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile imageAUTHOR

      Elizabeth Wilson 

      4 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you all very much for your comments and for reading! I am very grateful to you all, and @Faryal Sarwar, that's a very good idea; I might very well give that a shot in the near future. :)

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 

      4 years ago from New York

      Very well written. I felt the anxiety your character was feeling through the story especially toward the end. Voted up!

    • profile image

      Faryal Sarwar 

      4 years ago

      Enjoyed reading your short story. How about you write a part 2: this time from the guy's point of view.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image


      4 years ago from KOLKATA

      Although I am not an expert on creative writing i have found the story very interesting and it has characteristics of being called a good short story with the Suspense element drawing readers to the work and leaving them to wonder even after finishing the short piece. Thank you very much and I, for one, shall look forward to reading more such hubs.


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