Waiting; A Short Short Story

I’ve found myself in this office time after time again; this was the third time this month. I sat in the corner of the waiting room with my hood pulled up over my head and my feet tucked under my chair. They were bouncing rhythmically, I couldn’t control it; I’ve been sitting here for over an hour waiting for results, I was getting anxious.

Shit, I wish they would hurry.

This is something I’ve been dealing with for the last three years. Just last month my doctor told me he thought everything was cleared up; yet here I am again. Waiting. I’m always waiting.

How long does it take to look through a damn microscope?

I pull out my cellphone and start mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. Memes, click-bait, sign this petition for something unimportant, poor quality filtered pictures of half-eaten meals, the same crap I find here every single day. At least it passes the time.

It’s been three hours now. I’m the only one here. What could possibly be taking them so long?

I sigh and shift my legs, I don’t think I’ve ever been this uncomfortable before. Back into my phone, there’s got to be something that I can use to distract myself. Deciding on a trivia game that I haven’t played in months, I settle in and begin proving that I am in fact smarter than everyone else.

Another hour in. Christ, this is taking forever. Maybe I should ask the lady at the desk—

“Ms. McEntyre, we’ll see you now.” About damn time.

I follow the nurse back to one of the consultation rooms, she’s uncharacteristically quiet; that’s not a good sign. Room C, I resign to sitting in the chair next to the desk; there’s just something so demeaning about sitting on that tiny hospital bed with the crinkly paper. “The doctor will be in shortly.”

Waiting. Again.

Twenty minutes go by, the doctor finally saunters in. “Morgyn, I’m afraid I have some bad news. I’m very sorry, but…”

My mind starts to race, I tune out the doctor. I only pick up key terms; radiation, six months, unfortunate circumstances, I should have come in sooner, blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t stand to listen to the drone of things I’ve heard three times before. This can’t be happening again. As soon as the doctor finished speaking, I ran for the door and started driving.

If there’s an expiration date on my life, I can’t waste any time not living it.

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The Dive; A Short Short Story

I had no idea where I was going or why I was following the directions left for me on a napkin in a dive bar, but I continued on regardless. I shouldn’t have gone; it was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my recently ended life. That’s right, I’m a ghost, and this is the story of how I ended up here. My life was simple and boring, I was a run-of-the-mill student with average grades and virtually no personal life. I was a dancer, a writer, a musician – you know, one of those creative types that doesn’t thrive in social situations. You’d think after twenty-five years of life I’d have a little more to show for my “creativity.” Anyway, I promised a story.

After a particularly horrific break-up, I decided to pull myself out of my comfort zone and try a dating site. That was my first bad decision. I met a guy named Dave. He had only lived in town about a year and he was settled in and was looking to meet someone special. He was a surgeon by day, a late-night philosopher, and pretty damn attractive. We had a lot in common: he was an artist, he liked photography, and he was ready to settle down. Or at least this is what he told me. After about a month of conversing, he asked to see me in person. I reluctantly agreed to meet him at a shady local dive bar I usually avoided. Bad decision number two.

As I was headed to the bar, I received a text from Dave telling me that he had left a note with an address he wanted me to go to instead; the bar wasn’t exactly “his scene.” I wouldn’t normally go through with this kind of thing, but against my better judgement I went anyway. This is where I stop counting my mistakes: it’s all downhill from here. The address was a few blocks further; upon my arrival I knocked, and the door swung open from the force. There were no lights, not even light from outside filtered through the windows, and I could taste dust thick in the air. It seemed as though this house had been abandoned for years.

I cautiously walked into the pitch black darkness to search for Dave. I couldn’t see him, but a single lightbulb flickered on at the other end of the room. I remember thinking “this is how crappy horror movies start,” but I continued. I was nervous and called out for him. No answer, so I hesitantly walked toward the light. That’s when I saw it: a table covered with various metal tools with sharp edges and points. My heartrate increased and my breath grew shallow. I called out asking if anyone was there, my voice faltering with each syllable. Still no reply. I edged myself closer to the table, and my feet froze in place once I noticed traces of blood on a few of the tools. I couldn’t tell how fresh the blood was, but I was smart enough to know that I shouldn’t be there. I urged my feet to move, begged my eyes to turn away from the instruments. I needed to run but I couldn’t even move, I was paralyzed with fear.

I abandoned all hope with the echo of a step behind me. The next thing I know, there’s a ten-inch blade being forced through my abdomen. There was no pain, it was like a hot spoon fresh from the dishwasher, plunging into freezer-burned ice cream that had been in your freezer for as long as you could remember. I only felt the blade cold and wet like ice water as it tore through my insides.  Still, it wasn’t nearly as cold as “Dave’s” eyes as the corners of his mouth twisted up into the most sadistic smile I’ve ever seen while he stood over my fallen figure. The sickening sound of his moaning in pleasure from killing his prey will forever resonate in my mind.

That’s my story, no “once upon a time” or “happily ever after,” but it’s realistic enough. Something similar could happen to you, no matter how smart you think you are. So, don’t follow a stranger’s directions sloppily written on a napkin in a dive bar on a bad side of town. You’ll find yourself as every horror movie cliché you could possibly recall, even if you saw it coming the whole time.

Winter’s a lot Colder When You’re Alone; A Short Story

It was the dead of winter. Outside, the streetlights cast strange shadows across the snow that glittered beneath their beams of illumination. The snow was only disturbed by the tracks from one brave vehicle and a few footprints along the sidewalk. It had been awhile since any activity had occurred in this winter wonderland, the inches of snow that now covered these tracks indicated this. There was still some smoke lingering in the air from the last few flames being extinguished; most everyone else’s had been lifeless for hours. Everything seemed at peace.

The scene inside was much less pleasant. Smoke of a different kind hung heavy in the air, the whole house smelled of dust, sweat, and ash. Most everything was still, even the arms of the clock that stood to measure the time passed stood at rest. She removed the batteries the day he left.

She sat alone in the silence of the conservatory; the trails of mascara streaked down her face comparable to the scars left in the earth once a river dries out. Hidden underneath coats of days-old mascara and eyeliner that valiantly held its place on her eyelids through the floods, her eyes were bloodshot and devoid of all hope.

Who am I without him? I was just adapting to the arctic temperature he put off; I bundled up whenever I was around him.

Her fingertips lightly rested upon a black marble Rook, the accompanying pieces placed strategically across the chessboard in front of her. This game had gone on for days. She was determined to finish what she started, even if that meant she had to remain conscious until the game ended.

My tastes grew accustomed to the severity and insensitivity of his callused reasoning. Every time I fought him, he fought back. He struggled to stay on top, causing me to sink the faster and harder I tried to keep my head above water.

For just a moment her glance shifted to the stool situated across from her. Nicotine-stained court paperwork, the final decree for the dissolution of the marriage to the man that she believed she would spend eternity with. Placed carefully on top of that was a small rectangular mirror, covered in scratch marks from moments her need exceeded her patience and she cut a little too deep. Just a small amount remained of the delightful white crystalline substance, it took all of her strength not to lunge at it then.

Not yet.

The shroud of voices that singed her ears and mind was made up of excerpts found on bathroom walls and one-night lovers’ sweet nothings and empty promises. The monsters that hid in the darkest crevasses in her mind were ready to strike, they waited for the signal. They knew if their stomachs growled enough, she would soon feed them. She couldn’t let her babies starve after all, they were all she had left.

Not yet.

She pulled her gaze away from her sweet lady in white and returned focus to the game in front of her. She examined each piece’s position carefully, determining which move could finally end this prolonged engagement.

He blinded me with reassurances, I see that now. Point to point, things don’t match up. He never stayed late for work.

Her eyes scanned the board, her breathing growing shallow as she felt her throat tighten as she held back more blackened tears.

If I were to mark for every scratch on his back that signified it, my bleeding heart would be blackened from the ink; and if I were to add every breath I withheld while listening through the bedroom door, the house of cards he hides in would surely come crashing down around him in the most ravaging manner. He always found a way to accomplish his objective; I once admired that.

The lump in her throat began to swell and she felt her stomach tie in knots. The tears burned behind her eyes, then flooded down the ravines in her makeup like flood waters. Her body convulsed violently as she choked back her sobs.

I should have never left; I should have seized the opportunity when it presented itself. Now conspiring glances are shared, none of which I am surprised. I am at fault.

She stood for the first time in hours, her bones creaked and her muscles ached. Every convulsion sent needles down her spine. She gasped for air, bawling, begging herself to stop. Shivers coursed through her body and her shoulders and chest heaved with every gasp. After what she could best describe as forever, she had finally calmed herself.

Her eyes fell on the mirror; it beckoned her, seduced her. She approached it carefully, as if in fear that even the slightest quick motion would cause her white mare to flee. She slowly knelt beside it, her fingers grasping a razor that sat on the edge of the chessboard. With mastered skill she drew the remainder of the powder into a thin rail. She took a moment to admire the work of art she had created, and took a deep breath.

This was the signal.

It hit her instantly, she never felt so awake. Her face went numb, and she could feel remnants sliding down the back of her nasal cavity and into her throat. Her thoughts raced on the backs of demons, coursing through even the darkest parts of her mind. Her depression melted away, and fury began to consume her thoughts.

After all that I undertook and faced with him. I transformed the entirety of my soul, reshaped my future. All for him. He abused my emotions, neglected my affections, betrayed my trust.

She stood, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror for the first time since she began her game. It pulled her from her anger as she recognized the same distress that she fought so hard to free herself from. Her eyes were wide and dilated and surrounded by smudges of black makeup. Her cheeks appeared hollowed, and her skin was pale and covered in a sheer layer of sweat. Her dark hair was oily and tangled, it hung haphazardly across her face. She noted that she looked a bit like a rabid raccoon. She couldn’t keep this up much longer.

She centered herself in front of the chessboard with new determination. Still standing, she examined the board from a new angle. She found it hard to focus; her eyes kept flicking back and forth between the opposing pieces as she played through each potential move over and over again. She had to find the move that made perfect sense, the move to end all of the inhibitions that he harvested in her mind.

He planted seeds of doubt and took years to cultivate them into the disaster I’ve become. I’ve no one to blame but myself. I allowed him to wreak havoc among my thoughts, permitted him to establish what was acceptable in our partnership, I convinced myself that was how one behaved when they were in love.

That’s when she saw it, the move she’d been looking for all along. She sat in the chair she had been in for so long, promising this would be the last of the bout. She carefully maneuvered the pieces across the board, removing one by one with fierce precision. There was a spark in her eyes as she placed the last piece.

At last, I can put this all to rest. No longer will I allow his opinions of me to manipulate the manner in which I view myself. My being has been cleansed of his influence.

Checkmate.

Watching; A Short Story

A heartache wrenched girl waited for the opportune moment to express her feelings. She wanted to shout it from the rooftops, break all the sound barriers; but she was holding on to a useless vision. She had fought and fought to break herself from the ties of her previous captor; it took everything she had. She had spent years simply trying to fix the damage that was done; wondering when the light in her life was going to come back on. Lately, she’s only realized that tragedy is a reality waiting for a contradiction. I wanted nothing more than to tell her…

Stop… Don’t breathe…

It hurts less if you don’t breathe.

She continued to wait for her opportune moment; many came and went. I observed this whole time, watched her be torn and tossed like a ragdoll every time she tried to open herself up to someone new. I heard her cries in the middle of the night every time her date never showed up. I heard her talk to her friends about how she knows she deserves better every time she let one of her dates push her too far. It was all an act. She hid her tears from everyone, but she could never hide them from me.

I watched the confusion that was implanted in her mind, the way she would let them look at her and manipulate the truth. It killed me to watch as she would wrap herself around the fingers that had caressed so many girls’ faces before hers. I’d seen their type before; their eyes sparkled, like a candy laced with the deadliest of poisons. I couldn’t stand to watch her throw herself into their arms only to end up devastated seemingly moments later; no longer could I sit by and watch as she wasted away into the abyss. Her love was a disease, and it was eating her away.

The years went on, I kept watching. I wished that a cure would come; that their games would end. I hoped against all odds that someone would finally look beyond her past and see the full glory of her soul. Someone needed to see her for who she was; such a sweet, soft human being. Only I saw her behind closed doors. No one knew what she put herself through to deem herself good enough for them. She wouldn’t show the ways she bent and twisted herself into everything that she wasn’t just to make them happy for a night.

Their “love” was a game, strategically moving across the playing board that is her body. They always seemed to play exactly the right card at the right moment to catch her off guard. They took advantage of her weakness, which was simply that she loved too much. I wanted so badly to pull her from this sick version of Candy Land, “everything is her fault” was how the spinner always landed. She just needed to know….

Stop… Don’t breathe…

It hurts less if you don’t breathe…

Oh, how desperate I was for her to notice that I was there. I wanted nothing more than to save her, to give her the love that she deserved. But she didn’t even know I existed. She would face me every single morning. Her eyes sparkled like candy, much like the poisoned sweetness in her prospective partners’ eyes. But there was always more, more depth. Every morning I stared into her eyes, begging her to realize how much she was worth to me. Pleading for her to hear me.

Each year the sadness in her eyes grew more and more. If I could have just got her to hear me, see me, anything… I could have saved her. I did everything I could; I would draw her pictures on the glass while she was in the shower, I would turn the radio on before she came home from work so she wouldn’t be hit by the silence she normally lived in. I needed her to know I loved her. She needed to know…

Stop… Don’t breathe…

It hurts less if you don’t breathe…

I wish I had tried harder – found a way to get to her before she went to such drastic measures. She bent herself in so many ways for those she craved that she finally broke. She had waited so patiently for him to call; he’d promised that he would. I watched her sit in silence in the chair in the living room – staring right at me – as the hours crept by. Her expression never changed, but her eyes grew darker and darker. She still didn’t see me…

After what seemed an eternity, she stood and disappeared from my view. A small panic filled me, and I hoped that she had enough sense to make good decisions. I couldn’t exist without her; she needed to realize that I was there, that I was everything she was looking for and more. We would have been perfect together. She settled back into the chair where I could see her. She had started crying in the moments that I couldn’t see her. She had a small bottle in her hand, I couldn’t tell what it was. I watched her shoulders rise and fall with each deep breath she took as she opened the bottle.

Her tears came faster, her hands trembled. I screamed out to her as I watched her take pills one by one, choking out apologies that would never be heard. She deserved so much better than this. I slammed my fists against the glass partition that separated us as hard as I could. I begged her to stop, pleaded for her to just look up and see me. No longer able to retain my own tears, I watched her slip into sleep. I knew she wouldn’t wake up again. Her form slumped into the chair, the bottle with the few remaining pills fell and rolled across the floor. I was shaking; I would give anything just to see her eyes flutter open as they did every morning.

Not this time. Her body stayed crumpled in the corner, her spirit rose slowly from it. She looked back at the life she had thrown away and I watched as what appeared to be a smile cross her face. This was the happiness she had always wanted.

I pressed my hand against the glass, my throat still felt tight. She turned and looked at me, and for the first time I think she saw me. She looked frightened, but I didn’t know how to help her; I called out to her. This was my opportunity to show her amazing she was. Maybe I could finally be with her. I couldn’t help but smile as she slowly approached the glass. I could tell that a part of her knew that I was always there when she returned my smile. She reached out to put her hand on mine, the glass still divided us. I couldn’t pull her to my side. But I loved her, and I think she loved me too because she stayed here with me.

Although it’s agonizing never being able to hold her and comfort her on the nights when her cries shake the building with wind, I’m glad to have her. Every night, I watch her body collapse into that chair as she relives the moments of her death indefinitely. The torment of her soul keeps her trapped in this infinite loop, and I won’t move on without her. It’s agonizing to watch night after night, but the moment she smiles at me makes it all worth it. At least now she knows I’ll always be here for her, just on the other side of the mirror.