Tag Archives: drama

Hostile Work Environment. Flash Fiction.

Fred watched as Jack shovelled more food into his mouth, the sound of lip smacking and chewing was all he could hear, a sheen of sweat coated Jack’s face, a thin skim of grease was just below his bottom lip. Jack opened his mouth obscenely wide to take another bite of food, the yawning maw drew Fred in, he said something around his mouthful of food, spraying crumbs across the table. It was disgusting watching him eat, his fat fingers grasping at his food, spouting off something ridiculous, it was easy to dismiss most of what Jack said, inane ramblings about religion and stories of sex acts that were too athletic for him to even dream of doing. “Fred?”
“What? Sorry. I was miles away.”
There was a pause in the conversation as everyone looked expectantly at him, “I was just thinking about last night.”
“Oh?” the way Fred’s beady eyes seemed to sparkle made Fred’s stomach clench a little, “And what would that be?”
Fred launched into his story, about him and Vanessa having mind blowing sex the night before, with a promise of more to come in the evening. He rattled off the story with ease, it wasn’t the first time he’d told a story like this and it wouldn’t be the last. It didn’t matter that it was a lie, they wouldn’t know he and Vanessa had spent a quiet evening at home watching TV with both falling asleep shortly after going to bed. He finished his story and the others were off, telling their own stories of sexual depravity. Frank let the stories wash over him, trying to ignore the constant smacking of Jacks lips. Finally lunch was over and Jack heaved himself out of his chair and plodded out of the room, everyone following behind. At their desks Fred split off and went to his own, thankful that he’d survived another lunch with them. He didn’t like any of the guys particularly but they were OK enough, the only one he couldn’t stand was Jack, the pompous, self-righteous asshole. As he started to work, Bob leaned around the short partition between their desks. “Did you hear about Jack?”
“No, what about him?”
“He’s getting taken to court again. Some woman accused him of grabbing her ass or something.” Fred rolled his eyes, “again? I don’t know why those women keep going after him.”
Bob nodded, “They’re probably just trying to get a payday out of him, hoping for some hush money so they’d just go away. They’re just greedy bitches.”
Fred chuckled and nodded. He knew the women were telling the truth, they all did. They’d seen the way Jack leered over the few women who worked in the company, the way he’d paw at their asses and breasts,. Everyone else seemed to treat it as a big joke, mostly because they knew Jack was untouchable, his father ran the company and had more than enough money to keep his son out of trouble. Fred had seen the pictures of the women accusing him, he knew it was more than a grabbing. He’d seen the large purple yellow bruises, the broken noses, the swollen-shut eyes. The only thing he could do was keep his head down. He knew what would happen if he said anything or showed anyone the pictures, they’d all turn on him, make him the bad guy and then before the week was out he’d be fired for contributing to a hostile work environment. For now all he could do was keep his head down, pretend to be one of Jack’s friends and hope for the best. He focused on his computer screen, it was better to just not think about it. If he was fired it would be almost impossible to get another job, not when he would be marked as someone who wasn’t a team player. He pulled open his drawer and pulled out a box an antacids, already he could feel that sour burn at the back of his throat and it was only getting worse. He popped a couple into his mouth and started chewing, hating the chalky feel of it in his mouth. He swallowed, the mixture giving a little relief but not much. He started typing, best thing he could do was just not think about it, keep his head down and do his job. It seemed to be the only way to survive these days.

Finished. Flash Fiction.

 

This always happened with Blake. He promised the moon and then he’d go and fuck it up some how. Kim looked at her phone again, he didn’t even have the decency to send her a text. No, it would go exactly as it always had, she would sit here alone like a jackass until Blake rushed in, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half late. He’d apologise profusely, give her some reasons like work or traffic and a promise that it wouldn’t happen again, even though they both knew it would. Kim drained the last few mouthfuls of wine from her glass, well she wasn’t going to wait around for Blake any more. If he couldn’t be bothered to be on time, she couldn’t be bothered to stay. She opened her handbag and took out her purse, she quickly counted out some money and left. As she navigated her way through the tables she half expected Blake to come rushing in, that would be a laugh, meeting him mid-storm out. She reached the door and stepped outside.

Kim started walking, her place wasn’t far, At least she hadn’t just waited, she let him do this to her every single time. She had been so proud of herself when she kicked him out of the apartment but she let him weasel his way back in, like she always did. Why did she always act so stupid around him? If someone told her even half the stuff Blake had done she’d have told them to dump him, but there was just something about him that always pulled her back. Well not this time, this time she was done. There would be no coming back from this, leaving her sitting there alone for half an hour, no response to her texts or phone calls and it was already supposed to be an apology lunch. She knew she’d been right to try and start off slow and he couldn’t even handle a simple, quick meal. At least the restaurant hadn’t been too busy so there weren’t many people there to see her being stood up. Her phone started ringing, Kim fished it from her handbag and looked at the screen, she rolled her eyes as she saw Blake’s name. No, fuck him. She silenced her phone and put it back into her bag. He didn’t care enough then, she didn’t care enough now. It was his turn to suffer and wait. She stopped walking, he’d probably come to her apartment next and when he did she’d probably let him in, after all she always had before. No, it would be better to go somewhere else, maybe get a drink or two. Surely one of the girls would be around to get a drink. She grabbed her phone again and sent a few texts, then she set off for the bar.

Three drinks later she was still alone. Everyone had been busy with work, Emma promised to come as soon as she could, but that could still be an hour or two away. She looked around the bar, at least she wasn’t the only one here drinking alone. She looked at her phone, Blake hadn’t rang or texted in over an hour now, surely it was safe to go home again. Kim felt a surge of anger, safe? No, who cared if he was there or not, she wouldn’t be chased from her own home. Kim grabbed her bag and left the bar.

As the elevator doors opened the reveal her hallway she expected to see Blake skulking around hear her door, looking all forlorn and pitiful but the hall was empty. “Good.”, her voice seemed too loud in the quiet. She walked towards her door, ignoring the small pang of disappointment. Part of her was looking forward to a confrontation, she could rip open all the old sores and let the emotional pus drain away. She let herself into her apartment, she stripped off her coat and let her bag fall to the floor. She stepped into the sitting room and froze. On the table was a large bouquet of flowers in a glass vase. She hadn’t had flowers, or a vase, when she had left the apartment this morning. She walked towards the flowers and picked up the small card. They were from Blake. She shook her head, she was such a moron, how could she forget she’d given him a key? The message was short, “I fucked up. Please, just one more chance. I love you.” she picked up the vase and walked to the bin, she threw the flowers in, then she emptied the vase of water and threw it away too. No. He wouldn’t change her mind. She was done. Done forever.

Curfew. Short Story.

Mary looked at her watch, it was almost six and there was still no sign of Tim yet, she looked out the window again, hoping she’d see his car turn onto their road. He had cut it late a few times before, but never this late, he only had fifteen minutes before curfew. Mary let the net curtain fall back into place and started pacing back and forth in the living room, her cup of tea sat on the small coffee table, forgotten about. He’ll be fine, of course he’ll be fine. Even if he doesn’t make it back it’s his first offense, they wouldn’t do anything for that, they’d let him off with only a warning surely. Mary stopped walking, a sudden memory made her stomach tense, she had said something similar a few months before when Johnny from across the street had missed his curfew. She had been sitting at Margaret’s kitchen table as Margaret dabbed at her tears with a sodden tissue, “They can’t just do that to him, he’s only a kid and it’s his first offense, they’re just trying to give him a scare, you’ll see, he’ll be back by tomorrow at the latest.” But tomorrow came and went with no sign of him, no one had heard from Johnny since that day. The phone started ringing, Mary jumped then ran for it, not noticing as her knee clipped the table and knocked over her teacup sending the milky brown liquid across the table, it steadily dripped down onto the white carpet.

“Hello? Tim?”
“Mary? It’s Sandra, is it a bad time?”
“No, sorry Sandra, I’m just a little worried, Tim isn’t back yet.”
“I’m sure he’s fine, Charlie was late back today too, he just got in a few minutes ago, said they kept everyone a bit late.”
Mary shook her head, “What? They can’t do that what if someone is caught outside after curfew because of it?” She gripped the phone tightly, the anger in her voice surprised even herself. “I know but what can they do? If they didn’t stay they’d be let go and, well, you know what would happen then.”
“Yeah.” She spat the word out, most of the anger was gone from her voice, but it was bitter.
“I just wanted to ring you about the barbeque this Saturday, we’re not going to be able to make it, Charlie’s dad is sick at the moment, they’ve taken him into hospital and we wanted to go visit.”
“Oh no I’m sorry to hear that, if you need anything let me know and let me know how he’s doing won’t you?”
“Of course, thanks Mary, I’ll see you at Julie’s thing next week and I’ll let you know how he’s getting on. I have to go get dinner finished up, try not to worry I’m sure Tim will be back any second.”
“Thanks Sandra, have a good evening.”
“Thanks you too.”
Mary hung up the phone, the knot in her stomach had loosened a little but not much. Tim was just running late then, that was all. It would be fine. She smoothed down the nonexistent wrinkles in her jeans with her hands, everything was going to be fine. She heard the noise of an engine coming down the road, before she realised what she was doing she was standing in the hall and peering out the window as the black car went by. For a brief, wonderful second she thought the black car was Tim’s and that he was finally home, then it went right by their driveway. There was someone else cutting it close, they must have been kept back late too. Most of the people in the area worked for the Jones Company, but rather than calming her the thought sped up the beating of her heart, if they did work with him, or at least for the same company, Tim should be here by now. She looked at her watch, only a couple more minutes until curfew, she stayed at the window, the netting gripped firmly in her hand as six passed by. At a quarter past she let the curtain fall and slowly walked into the kitchen. If he wasn’t home by now he wasn’t coming home. She sat down at the kitchen table, there were things she needed to do, things she needed to figure out but that all seemed so far away. All she could do for the moment was sit and let the reality sink in. Tim wasn’t home, that meant either he was caught or he was staying at someone else’s house, if that was the case he would have rang. If he was caught his job was gone at the very least and she wasn’t allowed work, how long would it take Tim to get another one? Assuming he was fine and even able to get another. How would they afford a lawyer for him? Things were tight enough as it was. If she couldn’t get him a lawyer that meant…her stomach clenched painfully, Mary sprung up from the chair, knocking it over, and raced to the sink. She made it just in time as she threw up, she turned on the faucet and let the water wash the vomit away. She rinsed her mouth out then splashed some of the cold water on her face. She needed to keep it together, keep calm, Tim needed someone in his corner right now, someone strong and it had to be her. There were things she needed to do, phone calls she needed to make. She walked to the phone then stood before it, afraid to pick it up. If she did then it would all be real. What was that? She froze, not letting herself hope, then there was that familiar click of the key turning in the lock and Tim was rushing in. Before the door was fully closed Mary flung her arms around his neck, kissing him, she pulled away, “Thank god! Thank god you’re all right I thought the worst, I didn’t know what to do I was beside myself.”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. We were kept back and then I’d car trouble. I got a lift home with Eric, I tried to get away from him but you know what he’s like, I had to run back here, I thought I was going to get caught any second.” She pulled back from him slightly, noticing that he was breathing heavily and the thin sheen of sweat on his forehead for the first time. She was too relieved to be angry and she kissed him again. “I’m just glad you’re ok.”
Tim held her tightly and they stood, holding one another for a long time.

In the Silence. Flash Fiction.

Beth could feel the bead of sweat rolling down her face, she brushed it away and took a sip of her water. She was sitting on a deck chair in the back garden, the sun shining down on her. It was another scorchingly hot day and there was no sign of things cooling off anytime soon. She looked down at the garden trowel that was lying in a patch of grass, she had intended to get some gardening done, but the short break was turning into a much longer one. It was far too hot to be doing any real physical labour today, and there was no rush on getting the place cleaned up a little. Jeremy would nag her about it later, but it wasn’t like he ever spent any time in the garden anyway. Hell, she could probably just tell him she’d done a few bits and he’d just smile and nod. Inside the house there was a crash, Beth sighed, it was probably that damned cat knocking stuff over. Jeremy had brought it home a few months before, and while it was friendly enough it enjoyed knocking things off the counter tops. She stood up and went inside, in the kitchen she quickly scanned for anything broken, then she went into the sitting room. Still nothing. She went upstairs and had a quick look around, everything seemed fine. She shook her head, maybe the noise was from next door. She stood on the landing, she hadn’t seen the cat either, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything, it was always hiding away.

Beth sat down in the chair and leaned back, closing her eyes, enjoying the sun. The argument next door was getting into full swing, from what she could tell someone, most likely Sarah, had broken a plate, maybe a glass. What ever it was they were really laying into each other. Beth took a sip of her water, it felt like it was wrong to listen, but then she couldn’t exactly ignore them at the volume they were shouting at. After a minute it seemed to die down, Beth suspected something else would kick things off again soon, they always fought terribly when it was hot. They fought when it was cold too, but to Beth’s relief it was usually harder to hear.

Beth put her book down, sighing, they were off again, though she had missed what had set them off this time. She heard a heavy, muted thump, then silence. She felt her heart beating heavily in her chest, should she say something? What would she even say? As far as she knew it had never gotten physical between them before, but then she never paid all that much attention to them either. What if she was wrong? What if he hadn’t hit her? Silence fell again, she felt herself relaxing a little, maybe she had misheard the noise, she was probably just overreacting. She heard someone stepping into the back garden next door, followed by the flick of a lighter, after a second the scent of cigarette smoke wafted over the wall. After a few seconds she could hear someone softly crying on the other side of the wall. Beth stayed still unsure what to do. A few minutes later she heard whoever it was go back inside. Beth took a sip of her drink, a thin sliver on unease moving its way through her stomach. Should she have said something? But then she might only have made things worse. She felt too hot sitting out in the sun and her stomach was feeling off. Beth gathered her things and moved them inside, the house wasn’t any cooler than outside but she felt better. She flicked on the radio and allowed the music to fill that dreadful, heavy silence.

A Perfect End to a Perfect Night. Short Story.

Scott walked with his head down and his hands in his pockets, it had been a long night and not nearly as fun as it was supposed to be. He’d struck out with Casey, who’d disappeared halfway through the night with some random guy, they had been flirting on and off for the past few weeks and the night that he was finally going to make a move she goes and hooks up with someone else. He shook his head, it was his own fault really, he should have bit the bullet and asked her out last week when they’d been in the library after everyone else left, it was the perfect moment. He had no one to blame but himself, if he had just manned up and asked her none of this would be happening. He let out a sigh, next time he’d ask her, after all the worst she could do was say no. A drunk couple stumbled passed him, they were laughing uproariously about something and hanging onto each other for balance and support, he smiled a little and continued walking, at least he wasn’t off his face like they were, he’d decided to limit himself to only a few drinks. The last few months had been heavy on the alcohol and he felt good giving it a bit of a break, and it would be nice to wake up with his memory in tact.

Scott walked a little faster, he had gone past the crowds of people and was now alone, he always hated this part of his walk home, it always felt creepy. Part of him wanted to listen to music, something happy and upbeat, but he knew that would be a bad idea. You never know who you might run into in places like this, easy enough place to mug people, no one else around, quiet enough, lots of little side streets to hide in or run through. It had been a while since he heard of anything really bad happening, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t.

He let himself into the house and made his way upstairs, in his room his stripped down to his boxers and got into bed, he lay there for a few minutes before getting up again, he threw on some pyjamas and went downstairs. In the kitchen he grabbed a can of beer and went into the sitting room, he wasn’t feeling all that sleepy and it’d be a while before the others were back.

He cracked open his third beer then looked at the time, he was surprised that the others weren’t back yet, maybe they’d gone somewhere else after, wouldn’t be the first time. He was halfway through his can when there was a heavy banging on the door. Scott sighed, at least he was still awake, he got up and went to the door, they were always forgetting their keys. He opened the front door and looked around, no one was there. He closed the door over, maybe it was just some drunk who realised they were at the wrong house and ran, that or some drunk teens playing stupid games. He went back to the sitting room, he jumped as there was a sudden knock on the window, he looked out but saw no one standing there. His head whipped around as there was another knock at the far window, again there was no one there. He sat, frozen on the couch as the knocking moved around the house, whatever it was was banging heavily on the windows and they seemed to be going in a full circle. It had to be the others fucking with him, it was too weird to be anything else. He could feel a thin coating of sweat on his forehead and upper lip, his heart thudded heavily, he took a slow breath. He just needed to stay calm, it’d be over in a second and they’d all come pouring in, laughing their asses off. The knocking made it to the front door, then it was at the window. Scott watched as the glass shook under the heavy pounding, but still he could see no one, not even a hand. Then, just as suddenly as it began, the knocking stopped. Scott waited, but there was only silence. Finally he started to relax a bit, he stood and moved closer to the window, who ever was fucking with him was doing a good job of it, they had him going. He cupped his hands around the glass and peered out into the garden, he had to admit it was a clever trick, but that’s all it was. He scanned the shadows, looking for whoever it was, but the garden appeared empty. What ever it was hit the glass again, Scott jumped back with a yelp, it felt like whoever was hitting the glass was aiming at his face. Scott turned and ran from the sitting room, the pounding stared again on the door, he could hear it shaking in its frame, he raced up the stairs and ran into his room, locking the door behind him. Below him there was a crack, then another, there was a loud bang, and then there was silence. His phone, he needed his phone, he reached for his jeans and pawed through them, it wasn’t there, Shit. He’d brought it downstairs, it was sitting on the arm of the sofa.

Scott listened intently, there was no one coming up the stairs, they always creaked terribly, whoever or what ever it was might just grab a few things and leave. There was a knock on the door, gentle, almost tender. Scott let out a strained high pitched sound, the door handle began to move back and forth slowly at first then with increasing speed, the banging returned, this time louder, harder. Then it all stopped. The handle slowly twisted, then there was a faint click and the door swung open, revealing an empty hallway. Scott scrambled backwards until his back hit the wall. He could feel something gently rubbing against his cheek, it almost felt like fingers, but they were abnormally hot. There was pain on his cheek, dull and throbbing, it grew in intensity, becoming white hot, he could hear his skin sizzling, smell it burning, the pain was all encompassing, there was nothing left in the world but that awful, incredible pain. His fingers ripped at his cheeks as he screamed, his nails tearing bloody gouges into his skin. When it was over Scott lay on the ground in a puddle of gore, his body a patchwork of gouges and burns, the door to his room closed with a gentle click.

Every Year. Flash Fiction.

Jason stood in the centre of the clearing, a faint breeze rustled the leaves of the trees around him. He pulled his jacket a little tighter, it wasn’t a cold day, but it would get colder. Right on time Todd ran into the clearing, he stumbled and tripped over a tree root that was no longer there. As always Jason studied him carefully, everything about him was pale and washed out, like a photograph faded by the sun. Todd rolled over and started scrambling backwards, Jason couldn’t see what he was trying to get away from. Todd’s mouth opened in a scream as a bright red tear was opened along his stomach, more opened on his arm as he tried to shield himself. Jason watched as more and more cuts and scratches appeared. Todd floated into the air, dragged upwards by his arm, his face screwed up in pain. He was thrown partway through the clearing, his body stopping mid-air before collapsing to the ground. Jason had cut down the tree several years ago, hoping it might do something to alleviate his friends suffering. Todd lay on the ground, his chest rising and falling slowly. Jason moved closer and sat beside his friend, reaching out he grabbed Todd’s hand and Jason felt a deep cold move through his body. He could hear Todd whimpering and groaning in pain. Todd looked up at Jason, he frowned faintly, his face stained in blood that was too bright against his skin, it almost looked like paint, “Jason? Where did it go?”
“Don’t worry, you’ll be ok, help will be here soon.”
“I didn’t see where it went, it’s still here somewhere, oh god it’s going to kill us both.”
“Just try to stay calm, it isn’t going to get us. I took care of it. Everything will be ok, I promise.”
He sat in the clearing for hours, Todd fell in and out of consciousness, Jason kept promising that help was coming, it would be just a little longer. Finally Todd closed his eyes one last time, then he faded from view leaving nothing but a few streaks of blood on Jason’s hand. Jason stood, his muscles sore and stiff, he shivered despite the sun still shining above. He wiped at the tears that were falling, he felt drained, empty. He had taken care of the creature himself the day it happened, pure dumb luck really. He had been holding a gun and the creature pounced on him, in his surprise Jason accidentally fired, the bullet going directly through the creatures head. It had taken him a while to get out from under it and longer again to find Todd, who had passed away shortly after he arrived.
He came back on the anniversary, not really knowing why, just that he had a strong need to return. The first time Todd had stumbled from the woods he had screamed and then tried to talk to him, Todd was more defined then, not as faded. No matter what he said or did Todd could never see him, not until after he was thrown at the tree. Jason returned every year and would until either he died or Todd faded away completely. So far he had been unable to change things, unable to stop them, he could only watch and then be a comfort to his dying friend.

Jason took one last look around the clearing, it was starting to get dark, “I’ll see you next year.” He turned and started the walk back to the car.

In Vino Veritas. Short Story.

So had the dilation and everything went well as it can. The prep seemed a little easier this time and same with the recovery of the colonoscopy/dilation. Had some pain this morning so a little worried that the stricture has shrunk down again since the dilation, but right now it’s a wait and see kind of thing. Switching over to a low residue diet for now, so hopefully that’ll help me avoid any serious problems until I find out what’s going to happen next. Woo Crohn’s!

Either way I’ve had a good few years that I’ve been  only dealing with relatively minor symptoms, definitely looking forward to when that time comes around again!

Hope everyone had a good week and that ye all have an awesome weekend!

___________________________________________________

Darcy looked at him and smiled, “Good morning Mr. Ross.”
“Morning Darcy.”
She watched as he went towards the elevators, how long had they been working together now? Five years? Well, together might be a bit of a generous term, mostly their interactions were short, but they did have coffee a few months ago. Well, not together so much as at the same table, she had asked him if he was enjoying his book and he had told her it was just all right. She had picked up a copy of it on her way home that evening and she had to agree. She had brought the book into work a few times, hoping he’d notice and she’d be able to spark a conversation on it, but he never seemed to, even when she was holding it while standing right in front of him. She sighed as the elevator doors closed. Beside her Janice laughed, “Still carrying that torch?”
“I can’t help it, there’s something about him. I just turn to mush when he’s around.”
Janice shook her head, “forget about him, it’s not going to happen. I heard he started seeing someone recently.”
“Oh really? Who?” Darcy felt a prickle of jealousy, what was so great about the woman he was seeing? She was intelligent, she was pretty and fun.
“John in accounting.”
“Oh.” She felt her cheeks burning, “Well, maybe he swings both ways.”
“Yeah maybe, though I wouldn’t hold out hope.”
Darcy sighed, “I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s like he has some kind of hold over me.”
Janice nodded, “It’s the suits, the man knows how to wear a suit.”
“But it isn’t just that, it’s everything about him. His eyes, the way he smiles, he just has this way of talking to you, it makes you feel kind of special or something.”
Janice nodded, “it’s because he’s a nice guy. You’re just getting all caught up in him cos you know you can’t have him. It’s safe.”
“That is so not what I’m doing!”
“Remember Douglas?”
“That’s different.”
“How? He was married, happily so and you never actually talked to the guy. Or Bob, or Frank, or any of the others. You want them because you know you can’t get them. It makes them safe.”
“I don’t do that!”
“Name one available guy you’ve liked in the last five years…well?”
“I’m thinking!”
“I think you should do something to get over it, like go on a speed dating night or pick up someone from a bar.”
“I dunno, that sounds seedy.”
“My cousin met her husband at a speed dating thing. You could try online dating too.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Don’t just think, do! Take a risk for once, you never know you might be surprised.”
the phone started ringing
“Yeah, maybe I will.”
Janice snorted and answered the phone.

Darcy threw the book into the bin, it had been stupid buying it anyway. Maybe Janice was right, maybe she was just attracted to unavailable men. It would explain a lot, particularly how her crushes never seemed to move beyond that point to actual relationships. The thought of going to speed dating made her skin crawl, she could already picture it, a bunch of ugly, desperate men drenched in cologne wearing ill-fitting suits, and going out to a bar to pick up someone wasn’t much better. Online dating did have its benefits, you could see the person without having to actually interact with them, but the idea of it made her nervous; if people needed the screen of the internet for dating there had to be something wrong with them, right? She would like to meet a man the old fashioned way, something romantic and magical, with long lingering glances and laughter and blushing. Not that she was likely to get that these days, it seemed most other people didn’t want a relationship, they just wanted a quick screw and a insincere promise of calling in the morning. Maybe she just wasn’t meant to find someone, she knew something about that thought should made her feel a little sad but it didn’t, it seemed to just be true, like she had always known it. Darcy poured herself a glass of wine and looked around her small apartment, who would want to join their life with hers? She was in a dead end job, sure she enjoyed it, but she wasn’t moving upwards, she lived in a small apartment by herself, she had no real friends to speak of, she and Janice went for drinks occasionally, but Janice was really the only person she could call a friend. Maybe she should just give in and buy a bunch of cats already, embrace the stereotype. She took another sip of wine, what did she need anyone for? It wasn’t like she wanted kids and even if she did there were sperm donors these days and she was happy enough to be alone. She had always felt slightly distant from people, always felt like she never truly belonged. Fantasies and day dreams were her friends, where everything was safe and wonderful and could never go wrong. She sat down on her couch, shifting a little to make herself comfortable.

Half a bottle of wine later and she knew she was right, she was meant to be alone, it was her destiny. She could try and pretend otherwise, nurture her infatuations with unavailable men, but to do so was childish. She should just accept facts, she was going to be alone and if she was truly honest with herself, she was fine with that. It was safe, there was no danger of getting hurt, no worries about slotting her life into another person’s. No, alone was better. She was free to do what she liked when she liked, and if she was feeling particularly lonely, well there were apps for that kind of thing these days. Herself and Janice had spent one of their lunches giggling over it as Janice went through men swiping left and right.

The next morning Darcy woke with a pounding head and a thick, dry tongue. She pulled herself from bed and went into the kitchen, there she made herself a cup of coffee. She took a sip and a wave of nausea crashed over her, she closed her eyes and took a few slow breaths, when she was feeling a bit better she took another sip. She alternated feeling nauseous and sipping the coffee until it was finished and a few minutes after that she started to feel a bit better. Luckily it was her day off today, so she didn’t have to worry herself too much about that. She looked at the two empty wine bottles sitting on the counter, when was the last time she had drank that much? Normally she wouldn’t be able to finish a bottle before it went off. She stumbled over to her couch and sat down, she looked around and realised the remote was across the room, sitting by the TV. She sighed, she wasn’t really planning on actually watching anything anyway, maybe she would get the remote in a little bit.

Darcy woke with a start, she had dozed off on the couch, feeling a bit better than she had before she stretched and yawned then went to the sink and filled a glass of water. She carried that back to the couch and sat down, she looked around for the remote, “Oh god damn it.”, it was still sitting beside the TV. Sighing she stood and walked the few feet over to it, then she returned and settled in. She felt a pang in her chest as she remembered a bit of the night before, how easily she had accepted being alone. She shook her head, that was just stupid drunk thinking, it didn’t actually mean anything. She flicked on the TV, she’d find someone eventually, she just hadn’t met the right one.

Welcoming the End. Flash Fiction.

Mary carefully lowered herself into the chair, once she was sitting she let out a small sigh of relief. Everything hurt these days, she reached out and picked up the hand mirror sitting on the small table beside her, carefully she studied her face. It was breath taking. Not a wrinkle or a blemish, just smooth, beautiful skin. Even now almost a month later she still found herself marvelling over the change. The treatments were experimental, and expensive, but with no family and only a year or two left she decided that she might as well splurge on herself. It wasn’t like she could travel the world, not at her age. They had warned her before the treatments that she would be the same age and have the same energy, but she would look young and for Mary that was more than enough. Her body was still hunched over slightly, her arms thin and weak, but she was beautiful again. After a moment her arms started to tire, carefully she returned the mirror to its place. She glanced at the clock, Denise would be here in an hour or so to tidy around the house and cook some food for her. Mary hadn’t thought that Denise would disapprove of the treatments, but since she had undergone them it seemed like Denise avoided her, spending as little time around her as possible. Denise had told her that she was being silly, but Mary could still see it.
Part of her suspected that it was because the youthful appearance was jarring with the slow, jerky movements and the voice of an old woman, but then it wasn’t for anyone else. She rarely left the house these days after all, ever since Harold had died about five years back she’d become a bit of a recluse. The outside had begun to unnerve her, all those people and noises. Mary had always preferred silence and solitude anyway.

Mary was so tired and her body felt heavy. She leaned back and closed her eyes, it wouldn’t be the first time Denise had found her like this, Mary had begun to enjoy dozing off in her chair in the last few months. There was something different about this though, it wasn’t the usual, comfortable tiredness she had grown accustomed to. As Mary’s breathing began to slow she realised she was dying, they had told her the treatment was intense, that it would shorten the time she had left. There was no fear, or pain, Mary was content, even if it had taken time from her it was worth it, and soon she would be reunited with Harold. Mary let out a soft breath and the steady rise and fall of her chest stopped.

 

Loss. Short Story.

Danny looked at himself in the hall mirror, he turned his head this way and that, then tried smiling. It looked wrong, too bright, too manic. He let his face relax and tried again. Better. “Morning! Yes, it’s a beautiful day isn’t it? Oh I’m great, how are you?” It sounded too forceful, too fake. Danny took a breath and repeated it, it sounded better, natural. He smiled at himself and nodded, it was good. He grabbed his keys from the table and turned the doorknob, after a deep breath he opened the door and stepped outside.

The day was bright and sunny, though the air held a chill. Danny felt himself relax slightly as he saw that the driveway next door was empty, their car was still there but if he hurried, he could be gone before they left. Quickly Danny got into his car and started the engine, as he pulled out the couple next door were leaving, he raised one hand in greeting and kept driving. Ok, that was good, he got through that just fine. Now he just needed to get through work. That was easy enough, people felt weird around him now, awkward, and that meant limited conversation. He hadn’t discussed anything deeper than the weather with the people in work since it happened and he was perfectly happy for things to stay that way. He just needed to keep his head down and get his work done, keep moving forward, things would start to get better sooner or later, he just had to keep going.

Danny reached for his coffee and took a sip, the day had been going by at a reasonable speed, but now it was lunch time. Everyone was going out to the usual restaurant, they had invited him but he had refused as he knew it was just out of politeness. He sat in his cubicle and mechanically ate his sandwich, one bite at a time. When he finished he realised he wasn’t actually sure what kind of sandwich it was. Ham maybe? Some kind of deli meat that was in the fridge. Lately things had been slipping, just small things, like what he had just watched on TV, or what he had eaten. People told him that things like that were bound to happen, but they made it seem like it would go away at some point, but it had already been three months. Danny frowned, was it three months already? That seemed impossible, it felt like it had only happened a week ago.

As people started entering the office Danny busied himself, pretending to work, one or two people asked if he had a good lunch. He tried to engage in witty banter with everyone, but it just seemed to feel flat, like the words had no real meaning or substance behind them. It was just noise. What ever he had said did the trick and they left him alone again. He shuffled papers around his desk, it had always been reasonably tidy before, but now there were pages and files strewn everywhere, and possibly a mug or two buried underneath it all.

“Hey Danny, how’s things?”
“I’m good, how’re you?”
“Oh can’t complain, have you gotten around to the Frank files yet?”
Had he?
Danny searched his desk and found them underneath his keyboard, “Yeah, here they are sorry.”
“No worries, we don’t need them until tomorrow but I’m just trying to get myself organised ya know? These meetings always make me nervous.”
“Yeah me too”
“So uh a few of us were going to go out for drinks later, I know you haven’t been up for coming out since…well, I thought I’d let you know, if you were feeling up for it.”
“Thanks Joe, but I can’t, I promised Sheila’s parents I’d be over to see them. It’s been a while since I checked in with them.”
“Oh, no worries, just thought I’d say, we’ll be in the usual place from seven if you’re free.”
“Thanks Joe.”
“And look, if you ever need to talk or anything.”
Danny smiled at him, Danny knew how fake it must have looked, “Thanks man, I really appreciate it.”
Joe smiled, “Well, I guess I better get back to it. If you feel like coming out we’ll be there until probably ten or so and I do mean it, if you ever need anyone to talk to, let me know.”
Danny nodded, then looked back at his computer screen, he felt a pit of worry forming in his stomach, had it been that obvious? Had people noticed or was Joe just saying the things you are supposed to say? Should he go out? Just to be seen so everyone would think he was fine? The thought of going filled him with dread, all those people and talking and music. No. He wasn’t ready for that. Not yet.

Danny turned onto his street, he looked around for a second, then sighed, he must have zoned out. He really had meant to visit Sheila’s parents, they were only a ten minute drive from the office, but now it would take at least an hour to get over there, what with traffic and everything. He felt a thin thread of relief, it was too much of a hassle now. Tomorrow he’d go for sure. Beneath the relief there was something else, a low, gnawing guilt, he had meant to visit them yesterday too.

Danny let himself into the house, he could feel the emptiness of it pressing against him from all sides. They had bought the bigger house, dreaming of the children they’d fill it with. Gone. All gone. No one left but him now. Danny went into the sitting room, he dropped back onto the couch and turned on the TV. At some point he got food, another sandwich, apparently it was pastrami that he had at lunch. He chewed the sandwich slowly, not really tasting it. How long would he be like this? Just doing things for the sake of doing them. It seemed impossible that he had been so happy once, like that life was just a dream and now he was in the real world again.

Danny sat, staring at the TV, though he wasn’t paying attention to what was going on. At around 9 he turned off the TV and made his way up to bed, it was a little early, but he had nothing better to do. He lay in the darkness, eyes closed, willing himself to sleep, to dream, so he could see her again, feel her warmth, hear her laugh. The morning would come all too quickly and then it would be over and she’d be gone again.

Happiness in a Bottle. Short Story.

Lily took her pill and counted to ten, she hated feeling sad, everyone did. A moment later she could feel the sadness receding, replaced instead by a buoying happiness, she smiled allowing it to pull her along. She gently took the hand of her dead husband and, still smiling, she sat down beside him. Her mind was filled with all the wonderful memories, all the times they had spent together. Gone were thoughts of arguments or broken promises, gone were the fear and worry, the anger, there was nothing left but the joy of a life well lived together. A doctor appeared, Lily didn’t hear her come into the room, “Mrs. Simmons? Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m better than ok, I’m doing pretty good actually.”
“Are you by any chance taking any medication?”
“Oh yes, I’ve a prescription for Elatol.”
The doctor nodded, “I’m not surprised, most people do these days.”
Lily nodded, a dazed grin still on her face, “I just wanted to have a quick chat with you. We’re seeing issues with people who take Elatol while recently bereaved. The mind needs to process grief and if you block it out it will be much worse when it finally gets in.”
Lily nodded again, “I know I do. I was warned, but it’s too fresh” Her smiled faltered a little, her voice dipping slightly, “I’m afraid. I’m scared I won’t be able to handle the grief, that it will consume me.”
“Many people feel that way, especially if they are not used to negative feelings. If you would like we have an on staff therapist you can talk to, he can talk to you for a little bit, maybe give you some advice on dealing with your grief in a healthy way.”
Lily’s smile brightened, “Thank you for the offer, it’s very kind, but I will be fine. My family are coming to visit, once they’re here I know I’ll be fine.”
The doctor smiled, “If you’re sure.”
“Yes, I am, thank you.”
The doctor left the room, for a brief second Lily wondered why she had lied, the words had slipped so easily from her mouth. There was no family left to visit her. Brian was the only one she had left. Her children, Anna and Jack were gone. Jack had disappeared while backpacking in Australia and Anna had stopped talking to both of them four years ago. Lily couldn’t quite remember the entire conversation, at that point she had already been talking the Elatol, but it was something about Jack’s disappearance, how they never cared about Anna after that. The conversation had ended with Anna telling them to never contact her again. Surely she would want to know about her father dying though. Lily jumped slightly and looked around herself, she was still in the hospital, still holding Brian’s hand. Two orderlies were standing there awkwardly, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I said we need to take him now.”
“Ok, yes, sorry, of course. I was miles away.” She smiled at them. One of them reached into his pocket and retrieved a pack of tissues, “Here”
“Oh, no, thank you I don’t need them.” The orderly looked at her for a second then slowly put the tissues back in his pocket. As they wheeled him from the room Lily reached up and rubbed her eye, her vision was blurring for some reason. She took her hand away and realised it was wet, was she crying? Lily went into the small bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror, her mascara was streaked and running down her cheeks which were wet with tears. She grabbed a handful of tissues and quickly rubbed them across her face. She wasn’t supposed to be crying, she was supposed to be happy. She needed time to adjust still, she knew if she didn’t ease into it the collective grief might just crush her entirely. With shaking hands Lily searched through her bag, anger slowly growing, why did she keep so much junk in here? None of it was ever used, just thrown in and forgotten about. Finally her hand closed around the familiar bottle and quickly she took another pill. Releasing a slow breath Lily put the pills back in her bag, they’d kick in soon and she’d be fine. She looked at herself in the mirror, all pale and old, when had that happened? When had all these wrinkles appeared? She smiled at herself, she didn’t notice the way her lips stretched slightly too far and how her eyes widened just slightly giving her a manic appearance. The pills were finally kicking in and she had come to a decision, it didn’t matter what Anna said, she would want to know, would need to know.

Lily sat back in the chair, phone still clutched in her hand. She had tried everything and everyone she could think of. Old friends of Anna, where she had last worked, even her building manager. No one had a number for her, no one knew where she was, she was just gone. She had asked them to pass the message on if they heard from her again and they had promised they would. There was a worry there, a fear that Anna had truly gone but mostly Lily felt empty. She suspected that most of the people were lying, though she had no proof of that. Anna had probably told everyone that her parents were crazy or something equally awful. She popped another pill into her mouth and dry swallowed it, she wasn’t sure how many she had taken today, but it still wasn’t quite enough. Finally the waves of happiness rushed over her, filling up the emptiness. The house didn’t seem as large as it had before, or as empty. It was full of memories, of stories and characters. Lily stood from the kitchen table, ignoring the reams of paper covering it. She would sort all this stuff out later, when she felt a little better. Brian’s death had been so unexpected, sure they knew he was sick, but he was supposed to have some time left, years in which he could figure out his will and try to make amends with Anna and organise all those bits and pieces. It wasn’t until she had actually sat down to go through everything that she realised how many accounts Brian actually had, his name was on everything from the rewards card for the local shops to the car insurance and beyond.

Lily took a sip of her wine, she hadn’t had a glass in a long time, perhaps years, but she deserved one now. It had been a long day, people had been dropping in to see her, people whom she had never met or hadn’t seen for years coming to pay their respects. They weren’t a very social couple, but Brian had made an impression on those that he met. Not like Lily, with her quiet demeanour. She appreciated them coming, but at the same time she would have preferred to be alone, to have time to process it all. It hadn’t really hit her yet, she knew that, hell she hadn’t even cried properly yet, not that she’d given herself a chance to. She’d do it tomorrow. She wouldn’t take any of her Elatol and she’d allow herself to fully experience the pain, after all what was happiness without some sadness, you needed one to truly feel the other.

Lily woke the next morning, her head thumping vaguely, now she remembered why it had been so long since she had last drank wine. She only had three glasses and she had a hangover, typical. Already she was hearing from people, promising to come over later to see how she was doing and the thought of having to see them, deal with them, made her feel more than a little nauseous. She looked at the bottle of pills sitting on her nightstand. It wouldn’t be bad would it? Just have them for today then tomorrow she’d let herself feel it. But then the funeral was soon, god knew she couldn’t do that without the pills, seeing him lowered into the ground like that. Lily shuddered and grabbed the bottle, fingers scrabbling with the cap, trying to pull it off, when the bottle finally opened they spilled out onto the bed sheets and she quickly snatched one and swallowed it. Slowly she refilled the bottle. This wasn’t good for her, she knew it, but she knew she wouldn’t survive the pain. Oh sure plenty of people have, but Lily knew she wasn’t strong enough. She wasn’t like other people, she was weak, always relying on others. Now she had no one to rely on, no one but the pills. She sat, the bottle clutched tightly in one hand. A doctor or nurse had given her some pamphlets at some point, something about grief counselling. Lily put the bottle on her nightstand. She just needed to get through the funeral. That was all, once she managed that she could take a break from the pills, from being happy. She would find someone to talk to, she would fight her way through it. The pills gently rattled in their bottle as she put them into her pocket, it would be a long, long day and she didn’t want to be too far away from them, just in case.