Friday, 18 May 2012

Friday Flash: All About Me


All About Me

“Are you sure you don’t want to come out?” I ask Sally one last time.
“No, my head’s really bad. You go. Have fun, Tim,” she replies. She comes over and gives me a hug, which is about the most she’s done lately, and I kiss her on the cheek and wish for a fleeting second that it was how it used to be.

There was a time, when we first lived together, she’d glance at me at any time of day or night, and give me one of those looks. It would lead to a frantic scramble up the stairs, plenty of giggling and all that other stuff. Or sometimes we didn’t make it up the stairs, just to the stairs, or not even beyond the sofa. The cab driver switches off his ‘for hire’ light and I think of the light in Sally’s eyes. The spark that isn’t there any more.

The taxi ride is mercifully quick and I meet my friends at the bar as planned. By the end of the evening and a few too many shots, they peel away and leave me with the sense that the night is too young to be over just yet. I leave the bar, walk up the pedestrian street and pulses beckon me from several doors; the thud, thud, thud of music takes over my body and I want to dance again. It’s been far too long.

I look down at the sharp creases in my shirt. There’s no doubt about Sally’s ironing skills, so at least I’m dressed appropriately. As I walk towards the welcoming doors of a club boasting a seventies night, the bouncers don’t even speak to me, they step apart and let me through as the sound of Dancing Queen fills the air. I go straight to the dance floor and immerse myself in the atmosphere and the music.

After a few songs, I'm too warm and my mouth is dry, so I head to the bar. I order a beer and look around at the other clubbers. The air is heavy with humidity, the scent of perfume, and a sense of possibility.

I see a woman waving at me. I do a double-take as she looks like Sally did when we first met, only this doppelganger still has the spark in her eyes, not like the burnt out husk at home.

Before I know it I’m standing in front of her, smiling. She looks up at me and nudges her friend.
“Can I get you a drink, girls?” I ask, thinking it best to not alienate her from the offset by ignoring her friend.
“Oh yes please, vodka and coke they say in unison.”
“Make mine a double,” Sally’s lookalike says to me, winking.
They follow me to the bar, giggling, and I wonder where this is going to lead.
As I hand them the drinks they thank me and turn to walk away.
“Hang on while I get mine,” I say.
The pretty one turns around. “What do you think this is, Grab A Grandad Night?” she hisses at me. They look at each other, laugh, and make their way back to their vantage point near the dance floor.

Suddenly sober, I leave the building and walk up to the taxi rank. I’m never going to be a grandad. I can’t even be a father. And besides, I’m only thirty four, surely I don’t look that old?

I let myself into the house as quietly as I can. The room’s spinning but there’s an eerie silence so I can tell Sally’s taken herself off to bed already. I go into the kitchen and make myself a pot of tea. Sally always insists on a pot, and I’m in the habit of it now.

I take my drink through to the living room and settle into my favourite chair. The house looks immaculate. Sally must have been busy when I was out. I picture her upstairs, breathing deeply and smiling in her sleep.

It’s only when I lift the china to my lips, that I spot the envelope on the table.

30 comments:

  1. I enjoyed that. If only they had talked . . . but then there wouldn't have been a story!

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  2. Very perceptive and sensitively written. Your short stories are getting better and better.

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    1. Thanks for this lovely comment, Sue!

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  3. The narrator's voice was very convincing, beautifully written, touching sensitivity on how love looses its spark, and the ending was a wonderful twist. Very nice.

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  4. What an end to their little something. Then again, if you're thinking about your partner as a "burnt out husk," maybe an envelope is due.

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    1. Have to say I agree with you, John! Thanks for your comment.

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  5. Great story - I wasn't expecting the ending - just when he's been rejected by the girls at the club and thinking Sally's not so bad.

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  6. Great story. Such a sad (but good) ending.

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  7. Great story. One for a future Flash Slam? ;-)

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  8. I like the very different ways in which the characters deal with the end of their relationship - I especially like the wake-up call the two girls give him in the club - but this was such a sad story - if only one of them had said something to the other, it might not have had to come to this. Great story.

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    1. Thanks, Kath, and you're so right. Shame they didn't talk.

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  9. Great slice of life mini drama, Rebecca. You really get inside the head of the male lead in this short. He's selfish, vain and appears to be in the midst of an early mid-life crisis.. but still we manage to empathise with both the sadness surrounding his life, and his fractured relationship with his partner. And although we don't meet her, his partner's presence is all around us as we read, making the ending all the more visceral and emotionally painful.
    Smart, honest and powerful writing.

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    1. Thanks, Tom, for such a considered comment. I really appreciate that.

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  10. Nicely written. relationships need effort on both sides, I can't help but feel that he held more responsibility for the failure than he would admit to.

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    1. I definitely agree with you, Steve! Thanks.

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  11. Nice return Rebecca. I was expecting a reconnect, but you kept it real. Honest writing.

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  12. Worth the wait, I hope I don't have to wait until next November for your next story

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    1. Thanks so much, Charlotte and no, it was only a week :o)

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  13. Rebecca - this was an expert portrayal of a selfish man. You have us feeling sorry for this character by the end, even though his callous dismissal of Sally at home, rankles at first. Thirty four is a bit young for him to be so blissfully unaware but maybe its early midlife crisis.

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    1. Thanks, Brinda. Yes, it really does seem like one doesn't it.

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  14. Ouch this was a painful read. So well-described, the foray into the club and the burn by the younger women. I did not expect the ending - so sad but bravo. A well-written piece!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, and your comment.

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