365 Ficlets – Day #310 ~ “Cruel to be Kind”

I looked up from my coffee as he spoke to me;

“Are you going to stir that forever, Keiron?”

I smiled at him and shook my head slowly. He deserved answers, I knew that, but I was so conflicted. I tapped the spoon on the edge of the thick espresso cup, two short taps as I always did, and then the quiet clatter as I let it drop on the saucer. I pulled a cigarette out of his pack, lit it, knocked back half of the sweet, dark coffee and then tried to look him in the eye.

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Paul. Do you want to hear that I love you? Do you want me to promise to come out, for me to tell you that we have a future together? Are lies what you came here for?”

His face is all the punishment I will ever need, the pain and indignation in his eyes and the tears starting to run down his cheeks are all knives to my heart, but it is better this way.

“So it was all pillow talk? You meant none of it?”

I shook my head and dropped my gaze, to show him shame and hide my own pain. He needed to hate me; I owed him that.


365 Ficlets – Day #309 ~ “Strangers on a Train”

“Is this seat taken?”

I looked up from my book to see a flustered looking woman, loaded down with bags. She had that slightly desperate look on her face, you know the one that seems to beg for the seat. Luckily it was not my brother’s seat so I offered it up.

“No, not at all. Please…”

She visibly relaxed then struggled to put her bags up on the overhead rack. After a lot of huffing and puffing she managed to get all but her handbag up on the rack and then she slumped down into the seat with more relief than one often sees over a seat on a train.

“Thanks.”

Her smile was delightful, and I realised that her voice was not what I had been used to hearing for the past few weeks, since we had been in the States.

“No problem. You’re British, right?”

She smiled and nodded;

“Yes, yes I am. I’m from a little place called Manchester, and not the one in New Hampshire, I’m from the original one.”

I consciously dropped my faux mid-Atlantic;

“Me too, me an’ our Kid, ‘e’ll be back wit’bevvies any minute.”

I love the memory of her face.


So I’ve been thinking…

“Broken Strings” by James Morrison

Let me hold you
For the last time
It’s the last chance to feel again
But you broke me
Now I can’t feel anything

When I love you,
It’s so untrue
I can’t even convince myself
When I’m speaking,
It’s the voice of someone else

Oh it tears me up
I try to hold on, but it hurts too much
I try to forgive, but it’s not enough to make it all okay

You can’t play on broken strings
You can’t feel anything that your heart don’t want to feel
I can’t tell you something that ain’t real

Oh the truth hurts
A lie’s worse
How can I give anymore
When I love you a little less than before

Oh what are we doing
We are turning into dust
Playing house in the ruins of us

Running back through the fire
When there’s nothing left to save
It’s like chasing the very last train when it’s too late

Oh it tears me up
I try to hold on, but it hurts too much
I try to forgive, but it’s not enough to make it all okay

You can’t play on broken strings
You can’t feel anything that your heart don’t want to feel
I can’t tell you something that ain’t real

Well the truth hurts,
A lie’s worse
How can I give anymore
When I love you a little less than before

But we’re running through the fire
When there’s nothing left to save
It’s like chasing the very last train
When we both know it’s too late (too late)

You can’t play on broken strings
You can’t feel anything that your heart don’t want to feel
I cant tell you something that ain’t real

Well truth hurts,
A lie’s worse
How can I give anymore
When I love you a little less than before

Let me hold you for the last time
It’s the last chance to feel again


365 Ficlets – Day #308 ~ “Oops-a-Birthday!”

It had got to that time of night. The music loud, the drinks many; at least one person had seen an ex and cried or stormed off. Now the bar is just a little bit uneven where once the floors had been flat and the walls straight.

There is no justice in the world, but the simple truth is that this is the moment when the person that you most want to impress in the world walks into the place looking for a late drink and some friendly faces, and that is what happened to me.

Jessica was the coolest girl in college. I and almost every other guy in our year had been staring at her from across rooms, and the bars in town that would let us in on lunchtimes. Of course not a single one of us had ever had the nerve to talk to her. Now here she was, next to me at the bar, on my birthday, remembering my name, and of course I was dribbling drunk.

“Heya, Jess… You look fantast-t-tic!”

She smiled. I wasn’t sober enough to see it, but she actually did that smile, you know, the ‘Oh my God’ smile. I know because someone took a photo.


365 Ficlets – Day #307 ~ “Daemon Days”

“I am here? Why aren’t you here?”

Nothing. Of course there is nothing there, at least nothing that is visible to the mundane senses. I look again at the empty corner of the room to which I had directed my comment, straining to look with my heart instead of my eyes.

Now I can sense what you may be thinking;

“Is he describing the moment at which he finally lost his grip on reality?”

Well, I have to admit that the thought has crossed my mind, but in the end I have decided to embrace the connection I have started to feel about an attendant source of inspiration. It was an idea I had heard from a bright and compelling writer whose take on creativity really spoke to me, and so I have tried to find the good grace to allow for the possibility that my creativity is if not entirely from without my being, that it is at least enhanced and perfected by an unknowable external force.

“I need your help, now more than ever”, I said to the corner, “you know this is what you’re here for.”

Just as I was about to give up, it was there.


365 Ficlets – Day #306 ~ “Questions…”

“Look at me… Please!”

She raised her face, her cheeks wet with tears, her eyes filled with fear and pain.

“I’m not going to hurt you, well that is to say I’m not going to attack you with my fists or my feet. What I have to say may hurt you, but I no longer care about that, at least not as much as my own sanity.”

She sobbed slightly, lifting her trembling had to her lips and looking for all the world as though she wanted to protest, but could not frame the words.

“I have stopped waiting for you to give me real answers. I don’t know if you think that you are protecting me or yourself or maybe both of us, but I need to hear the truth from you and then you need to hear the truth from me, so just be honest with me. You did not really love me, did you?”

Her face was suddenly awash with tears and between the sobs there was a refrain of;

“But I did, I did.”

I fixed my eyes on her, locking our gaze together, waited for her to pause and simply slid the verbal knife home;

“Then why did you leave? How could you do that to us?”


365 Ficlets – Day #305 ~ “Strangers on a Train”

I can only see the side of her face, and yet for some reason I am completely drawn to her. I can’t stop looking at her. She is two rows ahead of me, fussing her bag and then gently brushing a stray red hair back over her ear, the beauty of her white skin and the soft suggestion of freckles on her temple…

How do I get from this point to actually connecting with this woman? I am so drawn to her that I am not even thinking about her naked, or thinking about what it would be like to kiss her or touch her. I am thinking about talking to her, I am imagining how her voice will sound, how her eyes will move and focus in conversation.

She is reading a briefing document; is she a civil servant, or a political aide? I imagine her briefing an MP or brainstorming in a think tank; she has that air of gravitas without seeming anything but exciting.

I fantasise about offering her my card, saying that I never normally approach strangers, but if she would consider posing for me I would love to show her my vision of her beauty.


365 Ficlets – Day #304 ~ “It’s your birthday…”

“Do you want to go to the movies later?”

Carrie’s voice drifting in from the bathroom woke me from a light sleep, the kind of Sunday morning snooze that every working person spends their weekday mornings dreaming about.

“Yeah, that would be cool. What do you want to go see?”

She wandered back into the bedroom, her body still covered in tiny water drops, her hair tousled and wet, and suddenly I was not listening any more.

“You wanted to see that comic book movie, the one that the whole of fandom is either scared of seeing or is creaming themselves about. I saw the trailer on the Apple website and I have to be honest I quite fancy it.”

I tried to concentrate. I mean here she was just standing about naked, which I loved, but it wasn’t like her, and she was suggesting that we go and watch the kind of movie that normally she ribs me about even wanting to see. For a moment I wondered if it was my birthday.

“Yeah, I’d love to see that with you, baby, thanks.”

She climbed onto the bed with a very wicked smile on her face.


365 Ficlets – Day #303 ~ “Afterthought…”

If only it had been like the movies; that is what those of us who made it out of there were left with. In the movies, as often as not, there are less survivors, so it might seem strange to hear me say that, but that’s the thing that no one gets. Extreme as it may sound, I spend a lot of my time wishing that I had not survived, mired in survivor guilt as my shrink calls it.

I mean I can be doing something as mundane as buying fuel for my car when I have a flash of memory and all I am left with is guilt at having not helped this person, or having run away from that encounter, or just incredulity that the people I watched die had not been able to take in the most simple information that would have saved their lives.

Zombies are not hard to kill, not when you get down to it. All that they want to do is to grab onto you and bite and eventually eat you, so as long as you keep your distance from their low-speed shambling bodies and deal out head shots that they don’t even understand to defend, then you are home free.


365 Ficlets – Day #302 ~ “Message in a Prism”

The sunlight caught on the chess piece, the faceted crystal creating an odd irregular prism. She looked at the centre of the piece, scanning it for the hidden message that she was certain Ged had left. Turning it slowly between her thumb and forefinger, she tried to find the correct angle to unlock the crystal, as she was trained to do so many years before.

So engrossed was she, she did not hear Yuri enter the room, she did not know to conceal the chess piece and her efforts until it was too late.

“What are you doing Anna?”

She started, and instinctively attempted to palm the chess piece, drawing too much attention to it;

“Yuri, you startled me! Isn’t the sunlight beautiful this afternoon?”

He smiled;

“Indeed, my dear. Come, tell me what you have in your hand, sister?”

Her shoulders fell, she knew that he had detected her poor legerdemain. She also knew that Yuri had never been schooled as she was, would never understand the truth. She rose trying to drop the piece into the pleats of her dress without him noticing.