We are continuing our stories based on song lyrics. The prompt was to write a short story, no longer than 1500 words, based on lyrics from your favorite song. Watch the videos so you have a better understanding of the story.
Staring into the fridge, her eyes narrowed. She’d grown to appreciate his sidestepping the chores. It strangely amused her that he always underestimated her. He was like a child thinking no one could see him when he had his hands over his eyes.
She preferred the lazy, falsely-superior shirking to his mean-spirited angry helping but not helping.
She tried to gently squeeze the dent out of the skimmed milk, but it was forever crippled. He’d done it to them both with his carelessness.
All of the Ocado delivery looked badly bruised.
He’d taken his frustration out on the organic groceries and carelessly flung them like the insults he so obviously carried around in his head.
She saw every cruel word never uttered, his eyes never bothered to hide he could have done better.
Had he ever loved her? Ever even liked her?
If he loved her he’d know she hated onions. He’d put more milk in her tea.
Both had rebound into each other, fleeing the drama and chaos of love that wasn’t returned. Both had been abandoned for another. Rejected for dalliances that didn’t last by people who definitely didn’t want to be the grown ups.
They’d scooped up all the children and created a safe place for them to grow.
But it was a sterile place.
At first the pale beige had been a welcome relief from the clashing shades both had experienced before.
But the peace between them became a desert after the children grew tall and flowered.
Once so vulnerable, now so capable and large.
Now she was feeling small and pointless. Edgeless, too. The contents of the fridge had been her cold comfort.
The love of food was better than emptiness. She rather enjoyed seeing herself become more and more grotesque in his eyes.
She slammed the fridge and her eyes lingered appreciatively on her distorted reflection in the door.
Her bloated hand reached out to an envelope held on by the fridge magnet. She had made it line up with the door.
She noted his scratchy angry writing had made ridges in the paper.
She smiled and left it unopened.
This is Donna Kneale’s first attempt at writing fiction, although she does have a screenplay in development, but that’s a true story! Of course, this short story isn’t true… and Donna Kneale is her real name…honest.
I put my old, beaten guitar into the tired case. My apartment moaned at me as I shut the front door. Back to my routine.
My warm breath conjures small ghosts in the evening air as I trudged down the hill. The deep city lights were beckoning me to the city centre.
Sticky, humid air washes over me as I enter the dark claustrophobic bar. There are five patrons nursing drinks in various states of intoxication, each one more unkempt and stolid than the next. The barman seems to look right through with dead grey eyes as he continues with his routine. Only a slight nod to the stage hinted he even saw me. My footsteps ring hollow as I step up and adjust the mic. I’ve done all of the preparations so many times my body is on autopilot and I only wake up when I start to strum the guitar.
Tears burn in my eyes as I force out the notes out of my clenched throat, the blank faces of the men staring into their jugs swims in my vision. I blink the emotion back; the most important thing was the music. My chest feels about to burst as I angrily launch into songs, trying to fill the space in the room and myself. Some of the men start to perk up from their stupor. The bar started slowly filling up during my set, all of them sitting apart from each other, white cellphone light illuminating their faces below me. My instrument feels heavy as I reach the end of the performance but I still plaster on a smile as I thank everyone for listening and being such a kind audience (even if it wasn’t the truth).
“Not bad, girl,” the barman grumbles as he slides over a stained envelope over the counter. I just catch it before it hits the floor.
When I look up his back was to me, now intently arranging bottles behind the bar.
I mutter meekly, “Goodbye.” He didn’t even hear me.
Swivelling away, I duck embarrassed towards the door but something caught my arm in a vice.
A wolfish grin greets me when I turn, complete with glittering canines that catches what little light there was. This mouth belongs to a tall man that had clearly forced himself into the tight tailored suit he was wearing.
“A pretty face like yours should aim for higher. You should be playing Madison Square Garden, ya know? I can make that a reality.”
A white rectangle with his name on it appeared out of nowhere, “Victor Brahms, talent agent extraordinaire. I’ve discovered many stars and think I’ve found another one.” His eyes roamed hungrily over my body as he finally released me. He points me to a table in the corner of the room, clothed in shadows.
I could only see eyes glinting from across me as we seat ourselves across from each other.
“You can be big, but there is only a couple of things we have to change…”
I am afraid to ask, but I have to. “W-what should I change?”
Sighing dramatically he shifts his weight and then drums his fingers on the table. “Oh nothing TOO drastic,” he seems to be trying to calculate my worth as his stare scrutinizes every part of me. “Make your sound more hip, because come on, the acoustic guitar is so 90s. Am I right?”
I try to chuckle agreeably but to me it sounds more like a strangled cough.
He forges on, “And maybe…have some plastic surgery done? Those ears could be distracting to a possible viewer.” His hand begins to point out different points of my body that seemed to offend him.
An anger boils inside of me, rising to my face until I was totally flushed.
“…I don’t want to change.” I say it plainly. It was just a fact of my life.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. I know what is best for you. Trust me, and listen to me and we could be big-.”
I could not bear it anymore; forcing myself up I escape from this slice of shadow.
My feet carry me out of the bar as tears finally break out and furrow down my face. I’m wounded, tired and the night has taken too much out of me, and it never seems to give something back. I have nothing to hold onto in this city. I just want to disappear. People sauntering through the street turn to me surprised as I hare past them. Some even dare to scream after me in concern. Nothing mattered. I continued to force myself onward, down neon list streets that snake like arteries through the very heart of the city.
Sidewalks seem to close in on me, and recognizable landmarks fade behind me until I found myself in a corner I did not recognise. There are no happy couples or beaming, big families here. Only a cat was watching me with stern, unblinking yellow eyes. I was completely lost now, but a weird sense of ennui grew that kept me company. My life played in front of me. As a small girl I dreamed of being an adult, when I would be able to do what I want, have a rich life with meaning. It was a jarring disconnect. I feel like I was fading away.
A steel door creaks open, bathing the rich maroon light that glinted off the line of trash cans. I watch as a thin, sallow woman almost stumbles from the steps and tries to juggle her guitar case.
When her dark eyes locks onto me I notice thin drops sliding down her thin face. She hurriedly looks away.
“Could I hold on to you?” the words float by itself from my lips.
I run to her and we embrace, two satellites that floated close to each other by pure chance.
My whole body feels like it is almost disappearing, and I almost want it to.
All I could was to hug her woollen jersey tightly to my face, drinking in the musty smell.
CS Voll is a South African writer with a big love for history and music. And of course, a burning passion for the written word as well. To learn more, visit the author’s Twitter account.
Betrayal and Wounded,