Sunday, 26 February 2017

Short Story from writing prompt

I was in a creative mood and as I felt drawing or painting (which I kinda wanted to do) would result in despair and frustration, I decided to try writing instead but of course had no idea what to do. So I googled writing prompts. Writer's Digest came up and every week they have prompts. I was uninterested in this week's, so I went with last week's:

You’ve finally decided it’s time to break up with your significant other. You just haven’t felt that connection for awhile and know it’s time to move on. So you go over to his/her house and, after explaining how you feel, you feel relieved–that is, until your now ex-significant reminds you that it is Valentine’s Day.

Well. This is what I came up with.  Don't normally share anything I write but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. Here you go, Void. I even gave it a title.


Staring at my phone screen, I felt around for a response that didn’t prompt further replies. I just couldn’t deal with him right now. Work is boring, but not that boring. I settled for a, “I’ll see you later x”, hesitating over the number of kisses. When did kisses become so meaningful? Before social media, I’d only ever used kisses in cards to members of my family, not as a piece of punctuation at the end of a written conversation. Now, if I don’t put at least one, it apparently indicates that I am in a mood or being brusque. If I put more than one but less than 4, that means I’m incredibly fond of someone. If I put less than 3, that means I don’t like you as much as I did? It’s all so confusing. All I wanted to do was to focus on something other than his feelings for a short while.

Sighing, I pushed my chair back, grabbed my mug and head over to the kettle. I was watching the laminated bubbles through the clear plastic reach the peak of their frenzy when Sally came over to grab her next sugar hit. As she popped open the biscuit selection tin and carefully selected her next treat, she caught my eye and gave me a smile.
“Hey, how’ve you been? How’s Chris?” Her banshee-pitched voice scraped its way through my ear drum.
I struggled to smile back and put on my best schmooze, “Oh, he’s fine. Busy with a project at the moment. How are you?”
Swallowing the last of her biscuit and grabbed her fourth mug today, she launched into yet another drippy couple story. “William and I are so looking forward to this evening. He got me a giant teddy bear! Can you imagine? At our age!” A beat passed as I smiled at her, quietly sipping my tea. A thought crossed her mind, making her cackle. “I’m surprised it wasn’t another sort of teddy that he got me, if you know what I mean!” She gave me a filthy wink. Then realising she’d been going on about herself again, probed me for more details. “What about you and Chris? Doing anything this evening?”
The idea of telling her the truth, to see how she’d respond, fleetingly dashed across my brain. I came out with the same banal response as usual, “We’re having a quiet night in this evening.”
“Oh that sounds lovely. I’d much rather a cosy night in than going to a noisy restaurant!” droned on Sally, as I made my way back to my desk.
Throughout the day, people seemed intent on sharing their plans for the evening with me or each other, with giggles and frequent bursts of laughter emanating from the kitchen whenever people congregated on a “quick” break.

As I drove to Chris’s after work, I tried to think of the best way to tell him.
“It’s not that you aren’t great, you are, it’s just that I don’t like you that way”, I practised, looking at the car in front. “Nope, that’s lame.”
“Yo, Chris! You’re dumped!” I honked the car, reminding him that the green light means ‘Go’. “Well nobody can say it’s not direct enough.”
“ ‘Chris, I’m really sorry but I think we should see other people. You’re a great guy but I don’t think we’ve got that spark.’ Yeah, that’s a start.”
I pulled up in front of his building, checking myself in the rear-view mirror. With a deep breath, I opened the car door, barely remembering to bring my bag with me.

The door opened before I even knocked; his sweet face beaming, arms open, cooking smells inviting me in. I cringed as I hugged him back and turned my head so he kissed my cheek, distracting myself by pulling off my scarf and coat. We walked through to the kitchen where an expensive-looking set of ingredients were in the process of being cooked and a glass of wine sat waiting for me.
“How was your day, sweetie?” He asked, stirring the sauce on the hob while I stood the other side of the table.
“Oh, you know. The same.” I could feel the stirrings of guilt pulling at my stomach.
Why was he making dinner tonight? It’s just making everything more difficult.
“I hope you like this, it’s a new recipe from Walters. It’s a variation on Beef Bourguinon, using -”
“Chris, we need to talk,” I interrupted, deciding to bite the proverbial bullet and to keep my nerve.

He stopped stirring. Was it me, or did he straighten his shoulders before turning to face me? His face had his winning smile plastered on.
“That sounds ominous! Did you scrape my car again?” his words teasing but his voice belying something... was it anger?
“Sit down. Please.” I could feel my hands tremble, so I put them behind my back. “Look, I just want you to know that you’re a great guy.” I took a breath.
“Harrie, please, not today,” Chris put his hand out on the table, his hurt eyes threatening to undo me.
“No, Chris, I’m sorry, it’s just that I-”
“I know. It’s not me, it’s you, right? Always sounds lame but actually, in most break ups it’s true, isn’t it?” He tried to laugh it off. This caught me off guard more than if he’d cried.
“Chris, I’m sorry. I think we should just end it now.” I ended quietly, looking anywhere but at him.

Chris sat there quietly, playing with a crumb on the table. A minute or two ticked by and the quiet was agonising. I tried to make a move to go, but he looked up at me, the raw emotion I’d expected earlier piercing me through his eyes.
“You could have waited, just one more day. We could have had one last evening together.” His voice caught, proving to me again that he was more emotionally invested than I ever was in us.
“I needed to do it today Chris. If I’d waited till tomorrow, then why not the next day or the next? I’m sorry.”
I left him like that, sitting in his neat little kitchen, surrounded by the wonderful smells of his cooking.

I tried not to cry, tried not to feel guilty about doing us both a favour and ending it sooner rather than later. I got home and dumped my coat on the floor, making straight for the fridge where a refreshing beer was waiting for me. I popped off the top and took a long swig. So much better than wine.

I sunk onto my sofa and moodily flicked through the channels. Perversely, there seemed to be a RomCom on every station. I settled for the news. Somebody somewhere had to have it worse than me, right?
“Good evening Minnesota and a happy Valentines Day to you!” The cheerful greeting of the weather anchor made my heart stop.

...Valentine’s Day?