Sunday Photo Fiction – Ignorance

51 03 March 16th 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

This week’s entry for Sunday Photo Fiction. Click the link for more stories and instructions on how to submit your own entry.

I can hear you muttering through the kitchen door, no doubt adding to the thorough list of sins your ex-girlfriend committed against you. This tirade started about an hour ago, when the bottle of whiskey we shared had been considerably depleted. Our other friends made excuses and left shortly afterwards, but you stayed, determined to spit out every bitter feeling and burn what was left with alcohol.

I ignored the tears when they began to appear, ignored to urge to tell you the truth: These words are hurting you more than they will ever hurt her.

I pour a glass of water and open the kitchen door. You’ve finally stopped talking, but your eyes are closed and your mouth is slack as you lay across my sofa. I lean over you to inspect your face more closely, wondering if you’re caught in some lonely, hateful dream. I slowly bring my lips to your ear, thrilled at the risk you might actually listen to me for the first time tonight.

“You didn’t deserve her.”

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The Library Book Project – 16 July 2009

To read more about this project, click here.

I give the coloured envelopes on my doorstep an ambivalent stare. I then pick them up, but decide I want to make myself a coffee before opening them. I feel a little more tired as I consider my new age. I sigh as I flick the kettle’s switch and gaze into space as it boils the water. I feel like I ought to be more anxious about my age, and then decide it’s probably a good thing I can’t muster up any strong feelings about it.

Once I have my caffeine hit in place, I carefully tear the envelopes open and pull out the cards inside. There’s a good mixture. Humour from my sister, though not the tasteless kind that’s about tits or beer or both. That kind of card comes from Mark, my closest friend who I haven’t actually seen in months. Then there’s the sentimental card from my parents, telling me what a treasure I am. Those kind of lines were patronizing at ten, let alone at forty odd.

I look at the cards from across the kitchen table, sipping my coffee and hoping I’ll feel more alive in the next ten minutes. How did it get to this point?  It’s my birthday, I have no plans, noone to call, and nothing to do. This is why old people turn crazy, I decide. It’s nothing to do with your brain deteriorating, it’s the loneliness and complete lack of meaningful contact. Gone are the days when phone calls to the family were something I’d guiltily hate. Now they’re the only thing I really get, and I string out the conversations with pointless questions about people I haven’t seen in years nor have any particular interest in.

My sister’s husband, for example, is a solicitor and the dullest person I’ve ever met, yet I quiz my sister on his work, which I don’t even understand. She mumbles on about various contracts, clearly finding the discussion even more mundane than I am. I reluctantly let her go, wishing I knew what to ask that would animate us both. I remember a story from our childhood, but it’s too late; she’s put the phone down.

I set out a plan to celebrate my solitude. I will walk to the university campus and wander around the lake. Then I will go to town, return my library book, and then eat at whatever restaurant I feel like. I’ll buy some booze, cider will do, and return home. That’s when I’ll start drinking, and later on at night, when I’m hungry again, I’ll order the greasiest takeaway on offer.  I’ll scour the internet for the most promising porn film I can find and link it up to my larger TV screen in front room.

I wouldn’t be able to do that, if I wasn’t alone, would I?

The Library Book Project – 20 June 2008

To read more about this project, click here.

I gently massage my sallow belly, clenching my jaws as another swell of nausea washes the back of my throat. I can feel a light sweat form on my forehead and a greasy coolness on my cheeks. My neck feels sticky. I push the back of my head against the pillow, as if it will help me regress back into a sleeping state. As crap as I feel, I smile a little as scenes from last night replay themselves to my inner eye.

I revel in the memory of kissing her. We were both drunk, but not so drunk the act could be chalked up to impaired judgement and nothing more. There was definitely a deliberateness with which she pressed her body against mine. It was subtle, she wasn’t the kind of girl to be obvious, but I knew she was enjoying our closeness. When it became late, I thanked Martha, our hostess. Martha always threw these kinds of parties, the ones that made us feel younger than we really were. She once said that she would grow up one day, but we hoped she never would.

Outside, I waited with her for a taxi. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to break the awkward silence, but then she blurted out something about Martha. It was about her haircut, I think. We laughed about how, at university, she’d dye it a new colour every three weeks. Magenta to violet to platinum blonde.

 “She changed hair colour as often as she changed boyfriends.” I said. It sounded a bit bitchier than I thought it would. Wine usually did that to me. “She used to ask me to go on double dates with her, always trying to push me towards some guy or the other.”

 “She didn’t know?”

 “It’s not that I was hiding it. I wasn’t as fond of her, when we first met. I didn’t think it was really any of her business. Besides, she would just have tried setting me up with girls instead…”

 “Haha, what if she’d tried to set you up with me?” she laughed. I blushed, and then had a few thoughts.

 “Wait… she didn’t…” I began. She kissed me.

 “You’ll never know.”

 As pleasant as these recollections of last night are, I really do feel very sick. I roll over and pick up my library book, hoping it will distract me from the hangover. It doesn’t.

Having Doubts About Everything

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A “compliment” slip from Anatomicals. (Possibly the best skincare company I’ve ever come across.)

I went back to my parent’s house for a few days recently. I say I went back to my parent’s house. I saw them for about a day and then spent the rest of my time with a close friend. I had a really nice time overall, but one of the first issues I faced was that my sister also came home and essentially told me that my housemates had been saying things about me behind my back. (To clarify, she lived in the house as well until recently, so has known my housemates for longer than me.)

This really threw me off, as I would say that for a student house, we get along pretty well most of the time. Things aren’t perfect, but when you’re in a house with four other girls (and only one bathroom!), you’re generally just grateful that you aren’t screaming tearfully at each other or trying to rip each other’s hair out.

It made me feel like I didn’t really want to come back, but I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world. 1. My sister is one of those people who have a  tendency to take things you say and make them sound about one hundred times worse. 2. Yes, there was a period when I was ill, when I was busy with NaNo, when I was waiting for an appointment at the breast cancer screening clinic, when housework was not my priority. I can understand why my housemates may have been frustrated about that. If they said anything, it probably wasn’t personal.

And then, a few days later, I went out with my friend and got terribly drunk. And it was very fun at first. But then I kind of hit that moody, depressed state which I’ve never experienced before. The one where you wonder what you’re doing with your life because:

A. You still don’t have a job because you’re a lazy fuck and nobody wants to employ you and why am I so useless and oh god.

B. You’re really not that smart either. You’re not dumb, you got a 2.1 this year after all, but that’s still not a first.

C. You are surrounded by the absolute dregs of society, including some freaky stranger who keeps coming up behind you and putting his arms around you and trying to kiss your neck and arrrrgghhh leave me the fuck alone!

D. You’re a terrible writer. A real stinker. What are you playing at, spending so much time on wordpress and pretending people care about what you write?

E. Your housemates hate you. Maybe they’re right and you are a horrible, terrible person.

And, I’m absolutely sure that a lot of people on here can empathize with D. Not because they’re bad writers, just because they have doubts. Even famous authors have doubts about their work sometimes. 

I guess there’s no big secret to suddenly gaining confidence in your work. It takes time. I think it’s all about practicing and not giving up.

Oh mighty users of WordPress, what is your opinion?

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The Smallest Crane You’ll Ever See

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Copyright – Alastair Forbes

This work is entirely fictional and has no basis whatsoever on what happened to me last night.

This prompt was from Alastair’s Photo Fiction Blog

I’m wearing that dress I didn’t like five hours ago but my friend told me it looked good and as I drank it looked even better and it’s tight but I can still dance even though my feet hurt because I’m not used to heels this high and I have to be careful to avoid the pools of spilled drink on the floor and I can’t take them off for fear of stray stilettoes and my drink keeps jumping out of my glass and maybe that last jaegerbomb was a mistake and then he makes eye contact for a little too long and I look away but it’s too late and I can feel his gaze burn my legs ass tits before I feel him behind me and he’s too close but the crowd makes it difficult to move away and then I feel his breath on my neck

“Babe, wanna see my crane?”

Friday Fictioneers – Jake, what happened to my bike?

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Copyright – anelephantcant

If you want to know more about Friday Fictioneers, click here.

This week, we have more adventures from our friends Jake and Alex, who you may recognize from my earlier piece ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Sleep In Phone Boxes.’ It seems Jake has not learned anything from his last night out.

Jake stumbled down the unfamiliar street. He’d taken a wrong turn somewhere, but her house must be nearby. She would surely be impressed that he’d cycled all this way to see her. Jake paused. Where had he put Alex’s bike? He spun around. He’d only dismounted thirty seconds ago… or had it been ten minutes? Dizzy, Jake staggered to the edge of the pavement and leaned against a railing. It turned out the railing had only existed in his head, and he found himself tumbling down an embankment.

The next morning, Jake awoke on a bed of dirt and twigs, hung over and very confused.

Friday Fictioneers – Friends don’t let friends sleep in phone boxes.

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Copyright – Danny Bowman

All I seem to be able to write about is Break Ups and Romance Gone Wrong lately… If you want to join in and do a Friday Fictioneers piece yourself, look here.

 

Jake woke up on a friend’s couch, his stomach feeling as ropey as the musty blanket he was tangled in. Each twitch brought on the sensation of a blunt knife being forced through his temple. Vague memories flashed through his inner eye.

“Jake, you need to get up.” Alex had said, last night, when Jake was curled up in the bottom of the urine scented phone box.

“What’s the point?” Jake had drunkenly wailed. “She dumped me and now she’s with that tosser!”

“Mate, seriously, let’s get you home.”

Jake couldn’t remember how Alex had got him out of the phone box, but he probably owed Alex big time.