Company

She’d definitely be at the opera. Alone.

I should go too—there’s no way she’d bring the restraining order along.

Spare

Broken piano - by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

He knew they should’ve got rid of that spare bed.

Now it was his bed.


Inspiration from reading a lot of nano fiction. Here’re some great ones, if you’re interested.

Image credit: Ryan Holloway on Unsplash.com

A writing tale

Anna rammed her index finger on Backspace, tap tapping at first before giving up and pressing down as the computer erased her work. Efforts of the last few hours.

No biggie. 

She was a writer, and this is what writers did. Writing every day, crouched on a supposedly comfortable desk, forgetting back support, ignoring foot rest, impervious even to the cold wheezing through the door crack, yet finicky—disconcerted by squiggly red lines on their canvas, the maniacs, telling themselves a measly coffee was all they’d needed to spew out a mash of creative fiction like an infant being sick from mother’s milk.

That’s what they did. Before re-reading and scratching it all out. 

Anna was no different. She wasn’t above any other writer who struggled to find their voice amongst the hoard of inspiration that sprung upon them through school and university.

My, how wonderfully the Bard describes a crow—Rosaline, he calls it.

Pfft, Anna scorned to herself wondering what a fool Romeo was. And Juliet. And the masses for considering them the best lovers ever to grace the unreal world.

Goodness, what a good writer the Bard had been. She’d never be as good as he—no, him?

She paused, fingers in mid air, stretched in odd angles over her keyboard, hovering, her mind racing as grammar police tailed her, sirens wailing. Did she dare go on or should she wait for the authorities to catch up?

Ah, she gasped. The horror of letting them get to her. To her, a proper writer, one who reviewed every line as she wrote it, scrutinising every syllable, reading aloud in her mind to verify rhythm, tone, and intonation. 

Definitely him.

She marched along. Better move on than get caught—and worse, taught. She was too old for that now. She had a job, for god’s sake—she was an adult. She should know the difference between he and him. Yes, she should, she nodded to herself in indignation. She did, her nod agreed back.

Pausing, she breathed deep before cruising along—a little slower now. In the long road to her destination, the police had often come along, riding too close at times, once even yelling through the window, demanding she stopped to reconsider her points of view. It hadn’t been easy to ignore them, to swerve around, overtaking their nagging voices, looking beyond their raised eyebrows and disapproving head shakes. But she’d come thus far—

Screeeeech—

Thus?

Anna rammed her index finger on Backspace.

Unknown

You look in the mirror and someone else is there.

It’s past sun down, and the winter’s too brutal to run outside. With the neighbours away on holiday, yelling won’t help either.

But you needn’t worry; the face doesn’t want to rip your eyes out. It just looks on.

Dark pupils enveloped in pale pink ovals. Deep in hollowed holes on a stretched parchment of ligament.

It blinks. Slowly, deliberately as if every tiny movement of tissue required as much effort as tearing away the label on a jam jar. Its nostrils flare as a long sigh escapes its nose, the tiny gash on the side streaming with renewed stream of blood. Eyebrows, as autumn leaves in winter, slimmed from being tugged at for months, arch over the holes, judgemental. 

Aged cuts like packed sliced bread, scream in silent pain from along its jaws. Dry, parched, and unattended, every slit, pore, and black spot yearns for a cure, pleads to you.

Hair once plush, pride worthy, had taken many a stride back, leaving in its wake a receding hairline whose dandruff peeks, mocks you.

It’s not your face anymore. 

You look around the house.

His books.

His furniture.

His favourite table cloth.

His choice of food.

His belts, his bottles, his smell…even on you.

It’s not your home anymore.

The security

“Hey Liv, did you see the new security guy?”

I looked up from my desk, mouth full of noodles. It was another lunch-at-the-desk day. I’d just hit submit on the report I’d been working all morning, and had turned to stuff my face into my meal-prepped lunchbox. 

Spaghetti in a sautéed tomato-mushroom sauce. Homemade food had never tasted so good. Perhaps Pinterest wasn’t kidding—maybe cooking on Sundays is a better idea than brunch with friends. I even managed to get the laundry done, and folded it for good measure.

I shook my head at Jesse’s raised eyebrows. She’s not the kind who’d bring up the security guy unless it was important. Perhaps he was cute.

“Nope.” I supplied swallowing the carby goodness. “Why?”

“It’s an old man!” She almost shrieked, sitting down on my desk, despite knowing how much I hated that. But she didn’t seem to be in her right mind today. Her usually straight black hair was bouncing off her shoulders in curls. Her mascara was a little too much to look at, and she’d force-matched her tiered skirt with a pair of high heels she looked terribly uncomfortable in. But she was gleaming with joy. Unable to figure it out, I decided to wait for her flamboyant explanation later.

“So what if it’s an old chap?”

Everyone needed money. It’s possible that this man didn’t have enough retirement funds. Or his kids weren’t around to help him. After all, I’d seen a lot of older folks struggling to make a living. It was sad, sure, but certainly didn’t warrant a hiatus during lunch. 

I went back to my noodles, ignoring the penciled eyebrows glowering at me. After a while, she gave up and went back to her seat. And I turned to the pile of reports that still needed finishing, verifying, and submitting.

Sigh. It’s going to be a long day.

For the rest of the afternoon, I carefully avoided running into Jesse in the bathroom or the vending machine. I knew she ached to discuss the old security guy. It wouldn’t be the first time—she imagined herself an upstanding citizen being the change she wanted to see. A couple of weeks ago, I’d spent an hour listening to her lament the fate of migrants working casual jobs and unconventional shifts. All because she was drunk on a Friday night and ordered pizza. Her delivery guy was an African hoping for a permanent stay.

My escape was short lived. Just as I stepped out in the terrace, glad that I’d finally completed the week’s backlog, I jumped. 

“I spoke to him.”

Not seeing her crawl up behind me, I turned ready to punch her shrugging childish face. Before I did however, she continued, eyes rounding in sadness. “He was missing his daughter. He took the job so that he’s not bored and lonely at home anymore.”

She was Puss in Boots begging to go with Shrek.

My frustration deflated. It was no use fighting it—she wouldn’t rest until she’d gleaned a response from me. 

“Yes,” I rubbed my stiff neck hoping she’d take a hint. “That is sad.”

Thankfully, that was the end of our conversation. I went back to doing some light reading and recipe hunting before heading home to Netflix.

As the office doors swung shut behind me, I saw him. A tall man in a khaki suit. He didn’t see me approach him—something through the window seemed to have caught his eye and he peered, his shoulders hunched.

“Have a good night!” I faked a cheer, pressing the elevator button. I was exhausted and famished.

He swung around, taken aback. 

“Dad!”