Short Stories

“The Painting” – Short Story

Posted on July 17, 2015
The third in a series of short stories. The first being “The Room“, the second being “The Garden“. This may be the final in the series. We’ll see.

A supreme silence. Nothing and no one to disturb, and yet, no rest would come. No rest would ever come. Day or night, it made no difference. Silence or chatter, laughter or screams. There is no rest for the vigilant.

Time may pass, people come and go. They always go. There is no promise of company. Only the harsh reality of loneliness. Loneliness surpassing time; absolute.

Occasional fleeting glimpses of hope, of interest, of acknowledgement, but ultimately ending in the same inevitable situation; alone in the dark. And that’s when she could be heard.

When all else was sleeping and complete stillness had fallen, you could hear it. The soft tapping as she approached. Her gentle footsteps as she made her way closer and closer, unseen, and unknown. Then she would wait. Always the same. It was our little moment; our brief slice of time outside of time. A mutual agreement of the simplest joy, but nothing more.

She would sit and I would stand. We wouldn’t speak, and couldn’t see, but we understood. We would stay locked in that moment for as long as the darkness allowed. In those last moments, she would stand, before slowly leaving; her tapping becoming more and more distant, before fading away completely, returning the world to silence. But not this time.

The darkness began to recede. The first promise of light could be seen, but she had not yet left. A dreadful flicker of hope; poised expectation. Light began to spill into the room. The polished wooden floors started to shine in the sunlight. Reflections of my cold solemn friends, standing sparsely around the room, unknowing or uncaring.

And then there she was. Lying before me upon my vacant lounge in a peaceful slumber. The golden sunlight slowly creeping across her face, revealing her under the warm glow of morning. I couldn’t look away, even if I wanted to. Our unspoken pact was shattered, but I didn’t care. In that moment, there was only her.

I could see her, and I wanted her to see me. Even so vulnerable under the morning light, I wanted to be known. To be seen. To be admired. I surrendered myself completely, and it was then, she woke.

Slowly her eyes opened. She sat up and stared directly at me. Her gaze was fixated upon me for many moments and for the very first time, I was not alone. But as I always knew and chose to forget, there is no promise of company. She hadn’t seen me. She couldn’t.

Her gaze was unseeing; unknowing. She stood and grabbed her stick, before turning to leave. I would have called out to her – to tell her to stop, beg her to come back – but I had no words. I spoke only in colour and shape, and she understood neither.

The last I heard was the soft tapping of her stick as she left. The tapping soon faded and gave way to a supreme silence.

“The Garden” – Short Story

Posted on July 19, 2014
I was suddenly in the mood to write again (with little else to do) and so I started writing this short story. As with “The Room“, I had little idea where it was headed as I was writing it, but it turned out being constructed in a similar style. I might even consider them part of a series. Yes, let’s call this the second in the series.

Strangely, she was in a garden. It seemed familiar and yet she couldn’t recall why. A soothing breeze caressed her face and tugged gently on her hair. Golden rays of light stretched lazily from the horizon as the sun began to rise, providing a comforting warmth. Somewhere far off, a brook babbled as only brooks can. The indifferent chirping of birds and occasional buzzing of bees formed a perfect soundscape for the scene before her. Flowers surrounded her; their heads dotted like dabs of paint on a canvas. A colourful array of bright blues, deep reds, dazzling yellows and lush green melded to form a picturesque scene, too beautiful to possibly exist. It was then she realised; it didn’t.

The scene started to shift and distort. The colour drained down from the flowers and ran like blood across the floor, before dissolving into nothingness. The soothing sounds became a dull echo, throbbing painfully inside her head. Before long the scene had turned to darkness and she was falling once more. This time falling up; rushing to meet the ground above. She became aware of a familiar pain in her wrists and felt the cold touch of steel. Thick steel rings bound her hands. In a single moment that fact triggered a flood of memories and she gasped as it shook her back into reality.

Her wrists burned. Her head was spinning. Her breathing was panicked and ragged. There was nothing to be seen. Only darkness. Isolation. It stank of filth and abandonment. It was cold. Wherever she was seemed small. The echo of her breathing didn’t travel far. She knew there were walls nearby, for they belonged to her. The floor was dirt and stone which dug into her exposed skin. Her left leg was numb. She tried to move, but lacked the energy and willpower. She ached all over. Her throat was so dry that even her short breaths pained her. She couldn’t call for help and even if she could, who would hear her? No one was coming to save her. No one would ever find her. It was just her. She was alone. Somewhere far off and remote, there was a sunset she would never see.

Once more she lost consciousness. She drifted uneasily through dark images and sharp voices until awakening back to reality. Time had passed, but nothing had changed. Her body was almost entirely numb though, leaving little pain to be felt. This brief respite allowed her to begin to think clearly.

I am going to die soon. Her first clear thought. It is too late now. All I can do is wait. And she did. With each minute that went by, the pain became more distant; the darkness more welcoming. It wasn’t long before she was ready to leave; resigned to her fate. She had made her choice and would have to live with it, or die from it.

A distant chill crept over her, beckoning with icy fingers and promises of eternal respite as the last semblance of distant light faded beyond the horizon. After one last breath and one final thought, she let go and drifted off into the night.

As she left, the world swept away beneath her and she caught a glimpse of the other side of the coin. She saw herself. Strangely, she was in a garden.

“The Room” – Short Story

Posted on April 18, 2014
I had a sudden urge to write something this evening, and this short story is the result. Very little thought went into what I was going to write about initially, but I’m happy with the result. Enjoy.

The room was dim. A single candle fought defiantly to illuminate the room, abandoned by the Moon, struggling more and more as each hour ticked by. At first glance, the room would have appeared empty; a messy, but cosy office. The only sound to be heard was a faint scratching sound coming from the writing desk where an almost invisible figure sat in the gloom, writing upon a piece of parchment. Judging by the amount of parchment strewn across the desk, the figure had been writing for hours, seemingly oblivious to the passage of time.

The stubborn candle made one last ditch effort to fight the enclosing darkness and flared momentarily, before taking its last breath and leaving the room in complete darkness. The scratching continued at the same even pace it had been going all night, seemingly unaffected by the lack of light.

Hours passed. Night reluctantly gave way to day, the Sun relieving the Moon from its shift. The deep orange light of the sunrise crept slowly into the room to reveal the cluttered writing desk, an impressive assortment of leather-bound books and a soft armchair by a humble fireplace. At the writing desk sat a simple wooden chair – no ornate carvings, no fancy decorations – just a chair used for sitting, and yet its purpose was not being fulfilled. Where once sat a mysterious figure, there was no one and nothing, yet the parchment remained, the black ink upon the last page not yet fully dry.

It was a few hours longer before someone entered the room. The door opened slowly. It opened half-way and hesitated a moment before someone slipped through the opening and softly closed the door behind them. Her bare feet padded across the room in silence. No one knew her name, but everyone recognised her long golden hair and the cheeky grin she carried with her everywhere, as if in on some joke the rest of the world was missing. It was the grin of confidence and carelessness which can only survive in children.

She walked up to the writing desk, clambered onto the chair and collected the pieces of parchment into a neat stack before climbing back down and retreating to the soft armchair by the fireplace. After curling up into a comfortable ball, she flicked through the corners of the pages with her thumb, as if counting them. Once she was done, she began reading the first page.

The Sun was soaring high in the sky by the time she finished. She stood, stretched her arms and legs, and placed the pages on the chair. After a moment she proceeded to light a fire in the nearby fireplace, completing the action so quickly it must have been something she had done many times before. Once the fire was stable, she picked up the pieces of parchment and tossed them gingerly into the flames. The fire flared angrily at the intrusion, before devouring the pages and leaving no trace behind.

The little girl smiled happily, before returning to the writing desk and sitting dutifully upon the chair. She grabbed a clean piece of parchment, picked up the patient quill and began to write. The slow scratching lasted only a few moments before the girl returned the quill back to its place and quietly slipped out of the room, leaving it empty and silent once again. The parchment she had used sat alone on the desk, begging to be read.

She had written only three words on that particular page. Could do better.