Flash: The Empty Shelf

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This flat is too big without her in it, the wind seems to rush right through me, the floor echoes my footsteps instead of her laughter. We never even argued. She snapped sometimes, I just assumed she was tired, and I’d give her a hug to cheer her up. Maybe if we’d had a proper screaming row, I could understand the pattern that led us to here, retrace my steps. There must have been steps, there must have been signs.

I walk past where she kept her coat, folded over the sofa. She always wanted a hook on the wall, but I explained I had just the right number of hooks for my coats, and I didn’t want to spoil the paintwork. We’d laugh about it of course, I’d say give it another year and you can have your own hook, and we’d laugh. Laughing is the backbone of a relationship, I always think.

She was here three years. They were beautiful years, but I had to rearrange my life around her, I don’t think she saw how difficult that was. I’d find her hair in the plug hole, or she’d want to watch the Apprentice; it was tough, but I kept altering my world to fit her in. She wanted somewhere to put her stuff, so I cleared a shelf in the cupboard under the stairs. She kept her shower gel there, a change of clothes.

When the lack of her gets too much, I open the cupboard and stare at the empty shelf. I thought she’d be pleased with it, I had to clear away my motoring magazines to make space and I thought she’d fling her arms around me joyfully and be so happy, but she just nodded. Nobody else in my life ever had a shelf, she was special. I wanted her to know that, but it was like she couldn’t feel it, like she blocked all my efforts.

When she left it only took five minutes to up and out of my life. She cleared the shelf, picked up her coat and was gone, as if she’d never been here. Apart from the mug ring on the coffee table, she erased herself from my home. She hasn’t called. Why hasn’t she called? She must be regretting her decision by now.

We were happy, weren’t we? I was happy. She was special.


27 thoughts on “Flash: The Empty Shelf

  1. There is a perfect balance between what the audience knows and what they don’t within the structure of this text. It manages to fuel the curiousity of the reader without detracting focus from the relationship and as such increases effect and engagement. Needless to say I much enjoyed this piece.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great story about a doomed relationship. Love the way you have used lack of generosity with storage space to show how someone can’t let another person into their life because everything is really about their own selfish convenience. Beautifully done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know someone who actually broke up with a girlfriend of years because he couldnt have a drawer in her house (something like “ive lived alone too long to adjust to that”). After a couple three years, he broke up with his other girlfriend i forget why and they are back together. Both ‘senior citizens’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erk, that’s unfortunate, I hope he figured it out, I like to think that we’re never too old to change, but I think some people just don’t want to. Thank you for an interesting comment 🙂


  4. I like this. It’s interesting because what seems like very little effort to one person can actually be a big deal to another — and while in a relationship you can’t just 100% leave it at that, there is definitely value in an unbendable person bending just a tiny bit. It happens with me and my partner’s OCD all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It’s especially tricky when you live with someone who has a condition or illness, trying to find the balance between helping them while not forgetting your own needs. I hope you’ve found that compromise.

      Liked by 1 person

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