Posted tagged ‘fiction’

dry

November 3, 2012

He sat alone, embraced by the barren room. They had filed out slowly, each at a loss for words. They shook his hand or gripped his shoulder, but could not quite bring their eyes to meet his. Their eyes found instead the rug-less floor and empty walls and the middle distance.

After they left and the echoes of the shutting door faded behind them, he walked into the kitchen and to the sink and washed off the handshakes. The bubbles slipped between his fingers and down the drain until the water ran clear and bubble-less. He felt as his hands blushed red and tingled in the hot water. The handle squeaked as he turned off the flow. He flicked the loose water from his fingers to the floor but didn’t bother to dry them.

There were no more hands to shake.

With his wet hands he grabbed a tumbler and filled it half way from a fresh bottle of whisky left by one of the handshakers. He sniffed it and didn’t wince too much.

The floorboards between the kitchen and the sitting room whined a bit as he stepped through.

The chair wasn’t very comfortable but he sat anyway and sipped his whisky and stared at the blank walls. They were pale, blue, and unremarkable. In one of the corners on the ceiling an old cobweb looked like ancient ash.

He sipped and held it in his mouth for a moment before swallowing the burning liquid and long, slow breath. They were gone and he could surrender, finally, to the last few months. His face tightened around his eyes and cheeks His breath shortened. He gasped a few times and sighed.

No tears came.

The blood in his temples throbbed. Eyes squeezed shut, head lifted skywards, face in a grimace.

No tears came.

There was no relief. It all lay too deep, pressed down and buried.

His chest lurched. He curled forward and covered his face with his hands and tried to dry heave his tears through. His face bright red, brow bright red and glistening, but his eyes were still dry.

The months before would not move. They rasped inside him. He breathed again and sipped his whisky and let it burn.

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pub chat ii

July 25, 2008

She made her way back through the rapt crowd. They stared at the televisions suspended from the ceiling.

She stared at him. Her fingers flicked as she took her seat again. Her hair fell again. She cursed and pushed it behind her ear.

‘Fucking smoking ban.’

He rolled his eyes. She was already fiddling with another cigarette. From the filter end she twirled it around her thumb and forefinger. The nail on her thumb was chipped, the polish peeling a touch. He watch it twirl. She watched him.

‘I’m not going to smoke it yet. I just need something to do. And you’re avoiding the subject.’

‘I’m not. I just need to order another beer.’

‘Go on then. And stop stealing sips from mine. Thieving bastard.’

Too many eyes on the game for a queue at the bar. He ordered two pints and tapped his knuckles against the hardwood. The other half of the bar gasped, sighed and then shouted the odd profanity. Jeers followed.

‘So how long does she need to think for?’

He’d only just sat back down.

‘I don’t know. I hadn’t planned a schedule. Neither, I think, did she.’

She reminded him of some 40’s newshound from some generic film noir piece. Hurried, impatient, right. She tapped the butt of the cigarette on the table again. Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hudsucker Proxy. Prettier though. She didn’t take her eyes off him.

‘Is she that stupid?’

‘Again, a little harsh.’

‘Are you that stupid?’

‘Probably.’

She finished her first beer and pushed the empty glass aside, drawing the new one towards her. She used the hand that wasn’t twirling the cigarette.

‘No, dammit, you are NOT that fucking stupid.’

‘Well maybe I am. Maybe I’m just that fucking stupid.’

‘She doesn’t love you. Love isn’t about thinking about anything. Love’s when you don’t have to think. Love’s not thinking.’

‘So’s being stupid.’

lochside

April 23, 2008

The water lapped the rocks with a murmur. Calming, whispering; an eternal conversation that all could hear, but none understand.

She skipped a stone across the gentle waves. It hopped four times then skidded along the surface before sinking beneath. Her fingers snapped and she faked a pout.

‘I can do better you know.’

‘I know.’

The pout turned to a smile and her feet sank a bit in the sand as she looked for another skimmer. Pebbles and stones clattered as she tossed them aside, looking for that perfect smoothness.

‘I said I know. You don’t have to prove your skill to me.’

He threw a round stone, not bothering to skip. It hit the water with a satisfying plunk, echoing over the quiet conversation between the water and the rocks.

‘I know you know. And I don’t have to prove anything to you.’

He looked across the loch. The sunny haze cast a pastel filter over the mountains in the distance. He squinted, even though his sunglasses hung loose from his collar.

‘Perfect.’

She held a smooth stone up to him, grinning from ear to ear. She held it like a talisman.

He lost count of how many times it skipped. Seven or eight – somewhere around that. The sun fell behind a cloud and the hairs on his arms stood up in the breeze.

‘I can do even better.’

‘I know.’

He watched as a sailboat tacked on the opposite shore, almost indistinguishable from the wings of the gulls diving around him.

She grabbed his hand hers and kissed his cheek.

‘I know you know.’

morning wine.

March 1, 2008

She lit a cigarette without interest. The smoke joined the haze of the room. It was like sitting inside a cataract. She sipped some wine. Her glass was filthy. Handprints and lip smears of an evening’s drinking turned morning covered it. Her eyes flicked to the grey light growing at the window. Her fingers flicked the dangling ash into an empty beer bottle.

His eyes hurt. Stung by smoke and exhaustion. He sipped flat coke and cheap vodka. The bitter, oily burn brought a grimace. He put the glass down and looked among the half emptied bottles for something drinkable.

There was nothing.

She dropped her butt into the beer bottle. A small hiss escaped as it hit the dregs. She sipped her wine again and looked over at him.

‘Why is it always us?’