SHORT STORY ENTRY: Writers Reign
Here's a short story competition entry I can now blog as the time period for selection has passed. Check out the competition on the link below. The maximum word count was 1500 and the theme was of our own choosing. I'm afraid I don't think a whole lot of this one as reading it back it's obvious I rushed it but never mind, I'm glad I entered it anyway as you learn from every attempt, even the rubbish ones.
The apartment block was fearful but I mustered a smile. I saw myself through her eyes and could tell I looked like a child who had received a gift they didn’t care for. Cara rarely swore, in my day at least, but this wasn’t the Cara I knew. She cussed several times as she walked around the flat, flinging a finger through doorways, showing me the rooms. It didn’t take long: bedroom, bathroom and all in one kitchen-dining-front room.‘Amy’s still outside?’ I said, wondering if Cara wanted her to join us. Amy was the one who called me.Cara walked past me, her skinny frame reminiscent of a Halloween toy, one of those jangling skeletons you hang from doorframes. She opened the front door and shot Amy a thumbs-up. Cara knew she had been too much for any best friend to cope with and had gifted Amy her battered old car (that still actually belonged to her father) as a kind of don’t give up on me apology. If it wasn’t for Cara being banned I may have felt differently about it but I’ve learnt to ignore the things that don’t really matter and Amy’s not a mercenary. Why let it rust I guess. After picking me up Amy told me she had listened to Cara’s the-next-one-will-be-betterfantasy while pulling her half dead from hostel or bedsit or squat or shop doorway for the best part of a year and this was the last time. Not the last time she had already threated Cara with so many times but really: the last time. I told her I believed her.‘It’s a shithole isn’t it?’ Cara said, turning as she closed the door. Her right eye seemed to be constantly screwed closed, and the angle of her head tilted to her right shoulder. I couldn’t help but think she was still beautiful. Not that I was going to say it. ‘No, it’s not.’ I said, truthfully. The area was a shithole yes, but inside the flat had surprised me, freshly painted, double-glazed, all brand new necessities: bath, cooker, and central heating. There was a knock on the door and as Cara cautiously opened it, Amy rushed in and gave her a tight hug. I could hear the air from Cara’s lungs being squeezed out. Amy was crying and as she let Cara go and dashed back out I could see a thick red line around Cara’s neck where Amy had held her. As the door slammed Cara started to cry too.‘She hates me,’ Cara said, tears flowing but her body remarkably still and composed. ‘She loves you,’ I said. Cara shrugged and sat down in the front room.‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ I asked. I was acting like I was visiting a grandparent at death’s door. I’d be asking about hot water bottles and soup next but that’s what being in her presence made you like. The Cara I knew was from another era. ‘Everything’s in the cupboards, don’t know which ones. Amy put it all away,’ Cara replied, staring at an empty corner of the room where I suppose a television would have been in normal circumstances. She didn’t actually say yes or no. Don’t ask her a lot of questions, Amy had said, she withdraws. She wasn’t joking. As Cara tucked into herself, her spine protruding like a stepping stone pathway, I felt overcome with shame. I hated her guts, she had hurt me so badly, but what sort of man was I to leave a young vulnerable woman on her own? Shouldn’t I have done something sooner?‘Do you still take sugar?’ I said from the other side of the room, wondering as I said it if that was the only way she got any energy. I saw her shrug again and as I turned back to search a cupboard at random, it was my cue to burst into tears. This could have been five years ago. Making tea before we settle down for a film. Where could we have ended up? I didn’t dare let her see my face but I knew she was bound to hear me crying. My head was nearly inside the damn cupboard trying to hide when I felt her arms slip around my chest. I hadn’t heard her move. My tears escalated to a wail and I grabbed her arms with one hand and without turning around reached the back of her head with my other; carefully, I knew how fragile she was. Her face pressed into the back of my neck and her tears slid down my back. It was the first time I had felt her skin against mine since we were together and I knew it like it was my own. She was so soft, so delicate. The newness of the flat suddenly stank. I couldn’t stop tasting it. We shouldn’t be here I thought. It was like a controlled death. A cage painted like a suburban idyll where no families would grow up, no congratulations cards would come through the letterbox and no ambitions realised. I knew I would take her with me when the time was right.‘Your hair smells the same,’ I said. I was choking from crying and the words stuttered but she heard me. I turned around and she was still looking down, her closed eyes fell against my chest and the scars that ran down her arms glowed lilac against the sickly transparency of her complexion.’‘I’m sorry,’ she said. I wanted to tell her she had nothing to be sorry for, but I didn’t.‘We have a lot to thank Amy for,’ I said. I felt my hands running through her hair, stroking the base of her neck and the back of her skull. She looked terrible but to me it felt like one quick shower and she would be back to new, ‘I miss you so much,’ I hadn’t planned to say it but the words fell out.‘I’m sorry,’ she said again. This time I felt like saying I was sorry too, but I didn’t. ‘I’m glad Amy called,’ I said as I held her; the shape of her body fitting inside me as it always used to, despite her frailty, and as I felt her body become mine, and mine hers, I understood that this was the Cara I knew, I had been stupid to pretend otherwise.
Have a great weekend all,