Ekphrastic Literary Contest 2024 WINNER

3rd Place – Adult Short Story

Caught by Teresa Veltman

Morning Coffee by Sybille Von Reoder

Tyler tosses his sippy cup on the floor of the Sunrise Café for the third time.
“Leave it. He’s testing you,” Alex says, when Leanna bends to retrieve it.

Sighing, she glimpses herself in the mirror on the back wall. Dark under-eye shadows, disheveled hair, and snot stains on her jacket don’t reveal half of her weariness. Tyler whines, stretching his chubby fingers toward the discarded cup. Somehow, Alex can ignore the fussy toddler while scrolling on his phone. His buttoned-up shirt is spotless.

The coffeeshop door chimes. Leanna’s pulse quickens and she flushes scarlet, clashing with the green splotches on her jacket. The man who enters, orders at the counter—his deep voice reverberates in her cells. Muscular quadriceps flaunt themselves beneath his jeans—muscles that draped across her body two days before. Her fingertips tingle as she recalls combing through his wavy chestnut hair, while her lower body parts rouse at the memory of his fingertips outlining her lips, her nipples, and her caesarean scar.

It’s easy to fake your identity when you’re at a bank conference, but not when you’re a block from home. He can’t see her like this.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” she says to Alex. Her chair screeches when she shoves it back, drawing all eyes to her, including the ones she aches to avoid.

Chocolate brown eyes open wide in recognition when they meet hers, but the easy smile fades as the toddler, the husband, and the shabby appearance are surveyed. His beautiful eyes look away. Latte in hand, he exits the shop.
Leanna rushes to the bathroom, locks the door, and weeps.

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