A Blast From The Past – Part 1

This short story will be published in three weekly parts.

Enjoy this first chapter of “A Blast From The Past”.


I was running. My feet made their confident steps just on their own. And although it was raining, the pavement felt like a safe ground for my feet to run on. I didn´t have a clear destination but that is exactly what I enjoyed most about it. Going for a run felt like a journey I had to take in order to learn how to deal with my emotional backpack I carried every day. And for a couple of months, precisely since you and I went separate paths, the backpack became heavier. And so I was running, hoping for it to get smaller. I felt my sweat running down the side of my neck, but it didn’t bother me too much. Either it was immediately soaked up by the fabric of my shirt or just washed away by the rain, I´m not sure. I felt my face glowing of heat and I probably looked like a tomato, however, each raindrop was a little heap of relief.

On my journey, I didn’t pass many people. Only one elderly man on his bicycle and a woman hurrying with two shopping bags in her hands. This part of town was usually buzzing. If it happened to be good weather everyone would go outside to sit in one of the lovely cafés along the main avenue, take a stroll with friends, or read a book in the beautiful park which was an filled with blossoms this spring. But this weather just made the streets look dull and empty. The facades of the houses were still beautiful but the grey sky gave them something sad, maybe even mysterious. I was wondering what people would do behind those windows the rain was bickering against. Some might just have a cosy day in, enjoying a movie and a hot tea. Some might just sit together with friends and family and complain about the weather, or just talk or argue, and some might just be alone. That’s how I imagined you spending your day. Alone. At least I hoped you would, because I did.

I took a turn left and got into a more quiet area of the town, not that the other parts would be much busier today. I wasn’t running too fast but just at the right pace for me, which enabled me to examine the now slightly smaller and posh houses with colourful front doors and gorgeous little yards in front of them. I wondered if the house owners or a professional gardener designed those little masterpieces, as they were beautifully arranged and the grass and bushes were perfectly cut. Besides the raindrops resting heavily on some fragile flowers, which again made them look sad, all the flowers still seemed perfect to me. Each and every single petal varied slightly in colour and form and looked so thin and fragile yet seen as a whole, they made sense. The petals were supporting each other and although each of them was different to another, they looked like they belonged together. And they were breathtakingly beautiful.

At some point I saw my reflection in one of the puddles I had to jump over in order to keep my rhythm. And all I could think was, I wish I looked as beautiful and perfect as those flowers that I just passed. I had several wet strands of hair stuck to my face and I was red like a tomato. But I decided not to worry about my looks because I wouldn’t meet anyone anyways. Although I always keep saying to myself that you shouldn´t aim to impress anyone but yourself, I have to admit that I´ve always loved to impress you.

That was because I loved the way you looked at me when I opened the door that you were waiting in front of, the bright smile you gave me, and the warm hug I received from you that I wished I could stay in forever. You made me feel so good about myself when you took my hand and slowly made me spin around my own axis to examine every piece and inch of myself. I loved it when you called me beautiful. I loved the moment when you pulled me a tiny bit closer to you when we were laying next to each other. I loved that I could just be myself around you and that we could talk for hours and hours without getting bored or not being interested in what we discussed. I loved that you loved me and I loved you for that. And sometimes I think I still love you.

My thoughts completely drifted off, something that hadn’t happened in a very long time. It reminded me of how much I missed thinking about you, in fact it made me realize how much I missed you. While thinking about the past, the present, and the future, which created an absolute mess in my head, somehow my feet carried me to an area of the town that I think I´ve never been to before yet seemed very familiar. I abruptly had to stop, rested my hands on my waist, and tried to catch my breath. I turned my head to the left and to the right to gain some orientation and then I saw it – there it was, just across the street  – the little corner shop you and I used to go to every time we wanted to satisfy our weird cravings. Sometimes it was just a coffee or as you preferred a hot chocolate with whipped cream and mini marshmallows. Sometimes it was a bag full of the handmade sweets the shop sold and on very rare occasions we bought a bottle of wine, some fresh bread and cheese, and we pretended to be a French couple strolling along the Seine and found a bench in the park two streets further down.

Because of the clouds and the rain the shop looked a little less colourful than I remembered it but the red LED sign that spelled out the letters O-P-E-N shone as bright as ever. It hit me with a mixed wave of emotions. I didn’t quite know if the corner shop excited me or if it just made me melancholic. I was debating with myself whether to turn around and run back home or if I should get out of the rain and grab a drink in the shop. I suddenly felt very thirsty and although it wasn´t pouring down anymore I decided to rest for a little in the dry. So I jogged across the street and stopped at the corner right in front of the door of the shop. I hesitated for a moment but I eventually placed my right foot on the first step, my left on the second, and with that movement my left hand already touched the door handle and I leaned my body weight against the glass as I entered the shop.

Physically, I was standing in front of the second aisle in a small 30 square meter room but mentally I entered a world full of memories – it was overwhelming. The little man behind the counter said “Hello Miss”’. I didn’t answer. I slowly walked forward to find myself in the aisle with savouries. I walked with a clouded look on my face until I came out at the other side of the aisle, right in front of a big refrigerator that held different types of water, still and sparkling, and many colourful soft drinks. I remembered that you always loved a peach and lemon ice tea in a beautiful glass bottle with a green lid. I usually went for an ice coffee or a cold lemonade when we stopped by on a hot summer day. But today I didn´t feel like any of those and I just grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge. I felt weird being back in here and the memories just hit me like a hammer hits a nail right on the head. It made me feel a little dizzy as well, although I wasn’t sure if maybe the long run was the reason for that. Nevertheless, I decided to just quickly pay my water and run back home. For some reason I had a weird feeling in my gut. I spent so much time with you here in this shop and it was the best time of my life but on the other hand I have now definitely realised that those times are over and I couldn’t deny it – it made me sad.

I heard the little bell that was attached to the door ringing as someone else entered the shop. I tried very hard to not turn my head and look immediately who it was. I was surprisingly curious about this person who entered the shop. Deep down I hoped it was you who coincidentally craved a drink from this one corner shop, but my hope disappeared just like a soap bubble popped after a while in the air as soon as I heard the friendly “Good afternoon, Matthew” in a quiet but settled voice, which clearly wasn’t yours but the one of an elderly lady that I didn’t know. And again I wasn’t sure whether I felt relief or disappointment. Matthew replied with his usual calm and deep, almost mumbling voice: “Hello, Mrs. Jacobs”. And then I finally realised it – I knew Matthew! I felt horrible for not saying anything when I came in. So I walked a little faster and because Matthew´s back was facing me I placed the bottle on the counter in a way that it would make a noise loud enough for him to hear and turn around. And as he did I tried to give him a bright but slightly apologetic smile. “It’s so good to see you, Alice. It’s been a while. How have you been?” said Matthew in the kindest way possible and because of that I couldn’t give him an honest answer, “I´m fine, thank you. How has the shop been?” “Oh. You know, I had better days but I can’t complain” he said. I felt this immense desire to ask if he had seen you or if you still occasionally stopped by to grab a coffee or so. But I decided not to in order to avoid awkward questions that I surely didn’t want to answer or maybe wouldn’t even know the answer to. I felt bad and I thought he´d sensed that I wasn´t exactly in the mood for talking. Matthew knew me and you quite well. On hot summer days he always made sure to save two of our favourite popsicles and took them from the drop-in freezer next to the cashier desk and put them in his private freezer in his little break room.

He was a very generous and kind person, the kind of man you imagined your uncle to be like and he´d secretly give you some sweets although your parents didn’t allow you anymore. He was an absolute sweetheart, the perfect shopkeeper, and extremely good at giving advice, which I´ve always appreciated a lot but today I´d rather not have a too deep chat with him. Matthew must have interpreted something from my silence and my empty stare towards the drop-in freezer so he just continued casually: “So, just the water or can I help you with anything else?” I felt like he implied an ambiguous meaning to that question but I just said, “No, that’s it, thank you Matthew.” I paid my one Pound fifty with a five Pound note that I carried together with my phone in that little case strapped around my arm. I said thank you again and promised Matthew to pop by soon as he claimed to have missed me a lot. I actually missed him too but even more the memories I made with you in this little corner shop. As I walked through the door I realised how long it has actually been since I’ve last been here. The door handle didn’t make its annoying but characteristic squeaky sound as usual so it must be a new one and the bench in front of the shop had a new coat of paint as well. Luckily it wasn’t raining as heavily as before anymore and because my heart was still racing like crazy I decided to sit down for a minute. I hoped it was just the fact that I had been running for quite a few miles that I was out of breath but I couldn´t stop thinking about all the memories that have been awakened by this place. I took a sip out of the bottle of water and leaned back against the bench. My feet hurt and I closed my eyes for a second.

I then heard the door opening but I didn’t care too much about what people might think of a girl sitting on a bench alone, drenched in sweat and rain. Besides, it probably was just Mrs. Jacobs leaving the shop. I tried to push my thoughts about you aside and think about the quickest route back home. I could take a bus but they don’t run that regularly on Sundays so running or walking would be the better options. If I wouldn´t have unconsciously carried myself in your neighbourhood my way home wouldn’t be so long. But there was no need to complain, I just had to deal with it.

And to be honest, the last couple of months I always tried to avoid this area but I had to admit that I missed it. The beautiful little clinker houses, gardens, and little shops and boutiques along the roads have always been something I adored. They are so full of charm, even on rainy days. And as my thoughts about how much I envied those posh people that were living here got carried away, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. I felt indeed disturbed and planned to give that person who dared to interrupt my inner monologue a mean look and a sassy “What?!” But because it was your face that I saw, I couldn’t get a word out.