Creative Writing, Writing Challenge

Maneater

Freya noticed the barista right away, just as she strolled up to get in line at the local Starbucks. They locked eyes: he a dark-haired young devil. A little smile from both ends. He was a certified bad boy, no doubt. The quickening of her pulse rose the closer she got to the front and she felt the barista watching her as she gave her order to the cashier. As Freya leaned down to sign the receipt, she stole a quick glance— the barista moved with impressive speed. Freya swallowed and handed the receipt back to the cashier, who smiled at Freya’s trembling hand. Then she stood back and watched the barista make her drink. His arms, decorated with black ink, flexed as he poured Freya’s venti cappuccino. They made eye contact again as she stepped forward to receive her hot beverage. The barista gave her a sparkling grin and she began her slow smile when he turned to resume his work. Perhaps expecting a tad bit more, Freya left with an air of disappointment. It was only when she set her drink on top of her car to fumble with the keys in her bag that she saw it: the barista’s phone number written on the coffee sleeve. She sat down in the driver’s seat and suddenly felt as if all was possible in the world.

If it were up to Freya, she’d either suck the men dry or leave them to bleed out. She only wanted to experience a certain wildness that she expertly brought out in her suitors and then she’d be content to move on with her life.

It came as a second nature to her. Within the first moment of meeting a man Freya would instinctively know whether the soft curl that brushed against her eyebrow, the almond shape of her deep eyes, and the delicate curve of her back were pleasing to his eye. If the verdict was not yet made clear, she would only need to say something— an observation of the evening’s mood, a spontaneous craving for a specific delicacy, or just quite about anything— to provoke a reaction so to decode the message behind his smile. And then she would know whether she held any power in how their night could potentially unfold. She loved the chase, and it loved her right back.

There was a time when hedonism took the highest priority for her. Where the road ended was never of more importance than the present scenery; all that mattered was here and now. With a sting of remorse, she remembered that the time had passed for her. There are always consequences to our actions, she reminded herself.

There was a man Freya had enjoyed for a brief period. She had loved his body, but he had loved all of her. After he—in a post-coitus madness—proposed marriage, she said he was crazy. Wounded, he went crawling back to his on-and-off girlfriend, who later became his wife. Freya always wondered if they were happy. Another man who had resided in Freya’s bedroom for one blissful month continued to send her notes many months afterwards. As they all went unanswered, the notes came further and further apart until a full year had passed without a word. She wondered if he was dead. Two more years later, she received yet another note. One man, the worst of them all, had sparked such an intense chemical reaction in her that the contextual details blurred into the distant background as she flirted with him shamelessly at a party. It wasn’t until after they had come out of the bathroom that the guilt came flooding in; he had just started dating one of her closest friends. That guilt formed into a rock, which still resided at the pit of her stomach, no gastric acid strong enough to dissolve. Were any of these experiences worth the repercussions? She watched as the men of her past floated by.

How can one thing feel utterly wonderful in one moment could turn into shame and despair the next? The words of Father Basil came to her now: Purity and pleasure are mutually exclusive, my child! He had caught her hand inside the pocket of the choir lead in the back pew. She swore on her grandmother’s grave that she would never do that again. A week later, that same hand made contact with flesh in the confessionals box. She had never felt more alive, but afterwards she mentally apologized to her grandmother over and over again, unable to bring herself to ask for forgiveness in a prayer. Eventually, she abandoned religion in lieu of her own personal moral compass. The problem was Society—it didn’t align with Freya’s moral compass.

Anyway, her time had passed, like she said. Society wasn’t ever going to be ready for Freya in her lifetime and if she wanted to be a functioning member of her Society, she had better abide by its glorious rules and such. A rumbling in the sound of “Fuck Society” rose from Freya’s guts and she felt ready to spit it out as if it tasted of bile. But then, she looked at the beautiful specimen at her right and pushed the utterance back down her throat. Here was the most important purpose of Freya’s existence, her small daughter with shiny, little almond eyes looking back at her mother. “Ready to get to school, baby?” Freya asked.

The little girl nodded and went back to her book, which was sprawled open at her lap. Freya turned the key in the ignition and roared the car to life. Glancing at the seven digits as she sipped her cappuccino, Freya thought: Perhaps in another life.

Writing prompt 15 of 30: Develop an intriguing character. 

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