All the Stories…

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From Pixabay

“All the stories, all the songs, all the focus on the first flush of love,” he mused, raising his voice so Delilah could hear as he gazed out of the window. The world was rushing past, faster and faster like a ride at the funfair.

“All the hearts, all the promises, all the drama. So much attention for that daft time when nobody is thinking straight. When lovers are still pretending and posturing, still trying to impress.” He liked to play with poetry of the words and let his thoughts amble by as he waited for the kettle to boil. These were slow things that moved at a rate he could understand.

“All the cards, all the I-love-yous, all the fancy clothes,” he carried on as he took the tea through to where Delilah was sitting. “Like they don’t know it’s only a fleeting fuss, just hysteria gone in the blink of an eye. It makes them silly, doesn’t it? They don’t see their beloved, they’re too busy looking at themselves, and then it falls apart and they wonder how they could have got it so wrong. Truth only comes with time. Love that sticks around, doesn’t run at the first sign of trouble. Like what we’ve got, eh?” He patted her hand and she looked up and smiled. She hadn’t heard a word he’d said, but she didn’t need to, she’d heard it all many times before.

Short story: The Long Walk

“I screwed it up this time. I screwed it right up,” Toby muttered as he walked down the street-lit road with his shoulders up around his ears to keep out the cold. “Won’t answer her phone this time, I can’t even tell her I’m sorry.” Toby wasn’t sure what he’d done to upset Jennifer, but he knew it was something terrible. Last time he’d upset her, she’d finally explained to him that he hadn’t bought her the right birthday bracelet; it had taken three hours of texts and a desperate phone call, but he’d got there in the end. She never believed him when he said sorry, ‘You only say that because I’m angry,’ she’d say, ‘how do I know you really mean it?’ So tonight, emboldened with a few shots of whisky and three beers, he was trying to prove that whatever it was he’d done wrong, he hadn’t done it intentionally.

It was three in the morning, on a cold January night and he was walking the six miles to her house to tell her he was sorry. He fingered the carefully written note in his coat pocket, but now he thought about it, a note didn’t seem enough. He should have got flowers, maybe some jewellery to post through the door with the note. He hopped over a low wall into someone’s garden and picked a couple of snowdrops and held them in his cold fist as he kept walking. Snowdrops, no one can be angry when faced with snowdrops, he thought.

Up ahead a dead bird was lying in the road, its guts spilling out through its beak, and Toby felt suddenly hopeless, Poor thing, didn’t stand a chance, he thought. He felt a part of the bird’s death, seen and mourned only by him. The night streets took on a lonely, dramatic feel; as if he was in a Beckett stage play, as he walked beneath the surreal orange spot-lights, muttering to himself, like the sole cast in a tragedy.

He looked down at the snowdrops in his hand, and they just didn’t seem enough now, they seemed silly, pathetic. So as he walked, he kept an eye out for anything he could use as an offering, like a magpie. He found a shiny black stone, a ribbon, a toy car. He wondered if the streets were always so filled with abandoned treasure. She’d have to like some of these, wouldn’t she? She’d have to forgive him. He tried to imagine her finding his little collection and the carefully worded note. Surely she’d laugh when she saw the toy car, be touched by the snowdrops, tied up with the ribbon. Then he wasn’t sure at all, he wondered if anything he did could ever be enough, maybe he was just destined to disappoint her. His legs were getting heavy and the cold bit at his knees, he hadn’t gone more than a couple of miles and the hand holding the snowdrops was completely numb. His eyes were scanning the pavement, the walls, for any more gifts. Then he spotted the note, folded and discarded on a wall, the ink smudging with the damp. He picked it up and began to read. It didn’t feel like an invasion of privacy, because these were the night streets and this was his play, instead he felt an instant kinship with the writer:

“I’m sorry William, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I’ve done to make you so angry. Please let’s talk about this, we can sort it out. I love you, Becky.” Toby stood under the streetlamp for a long time, just rereading the note, imagining poor Becky writing that heartfelt note, only for William to care so little he threw it away. He imagined her desperation and fear. He wished he could give Becky the snowdrops, he felt she’d love them, that she’d laugh as he handed over the small car. With a heavy sigh, he crouched down by the wall. With his numb hands and his knees creaking, he created a small alter with a toy car, snowdrops in a ribbon, and a shiny black stone. The note sat in the middle. It felt like the proper resting place for all things discarded.

“Don’t you worry about him,” Toby whispered, “he’s not worth it.” Then he turned and started to make his way home.

D. Bayer’s Blog: Toons and Little Worm

If you are looking for an intense story to take you out of your life for a little while, try this. It’s by D. Bayer, and about a child starting out in a hopeless situation and how she survives, and a father doing his best despite the odds. I’m not usually affected by sad tales, but this is gripping and heartfelt and it deserves to be read.

 

Here’s the first paragraph:

The way the story was passed down to me, when I was born I weighed four pounds seven ounces and was addicted to heroin. My mother gave birth in a crackhouse on Bedford, but it wasn’t clear if she went into labor while shooting up or if she just crawled into the first place she could find once her water broke. A junkie ran out and got a cop, and the fiends and chickenheads all cleared out while the ambulance crew tried to muscle in past them.

I’m not sure how to do the reblog thing, so here’s a link:

Toons and Little Worm

Short story: Love is odd

Funny how emotion leaps out from the ridiculous, how it falls out unexpectedly. I fell in love in biology class, because no one could slice up a sheep’s eye like Shakti. I watched entranced as her deft brown hands worked without hesitation, her gaze steady, she didn’t flinch. She didn’t squeal like a lot of the girls did. Instead subtler emotions played across her face: the slight furrow of concentration, a twitch of sadness at the corner of her mouth, a pout of determination.

We only shared Biology for a few weeks, while Mrs Short was off, then Shakti returned to being just a face in the halls. Except she wasn’t, she couldn’t ever be again.

The next time I saw her was at the school dance. Her hair was piled up with glitter, and she was trying to walk in stupid shoes, giggling with her friends and going to the toilets in a cluster of perfumed hysteria. I was wrong, I thought, she just the usual, pretty but dull. Then as some sneakily supped vodka (apparently hidden in the cistern of the girl’s toilets) did its thing, she kicked off the shoes and boogied in bare feet, that’s when I saw her again. Unfettered, unique. Now I knew she was the one, my destiny, I just had to find a way of proving that to her…