Short Stories

SILENCE

I asked the heaven of stars what lay before me. As I look up at them I can feel a sudden coldness wash over me. They aren’t listening. They never do.

With a sigh, I make my way back down to earth from the canopy above. The bark is harsh against my feet and palms, but once I touch the ground it is cool and refreshing. A smile spreads across my face as I dash away from the tree, my red cloak flapping in the wind.

The smell of a fire reached my nose, so I looked up, seeing a large puff of smoke rise to the stars. It didn’t worry me, though, because I knew granny was just warming the house for the night.

Warm lights welcomed me as I broke through the forest. The door opened and granny was standing there ready to call me, but her face turned from concern to happiness as she spotted me.

“C’mon, Ruby, I made some warm soup,” she said as she welcomed me with open arms.

I walked up to her, gave her a hug, and replied with a toothy grin, “I’m starving.” So we walked inside with the stars twinkling above us, their silence ringing loud in the stillness of the night, never revealing their secrets.

HOME

The rough winds were calling to me, pulling deeper toward the coastline, to the edge of the cliff. I couldn’t feel my face at this point, or my finger tips or toes, as I stood barefoot in the wet grass that grew along the edge. The sea roared and echoed around me, cascading into the cliff face and all I could think about was jumping.

“Stop!”

I turned toward the sound. It didn’t really catch me off guard; I knew he had followed.

“Melanie, what’re you doing,” he exclaimed in frustration and fear. He didn’t come too close to me, afraid I’d jump the second he were close enough or afraid he’d accidentally push me in.

“The sea is calling me,” I replied matter-of-factly. I turned back toward the ocean, to the place I wanted to bad to call home. The waves crashed and rolled, but not furiously. It was actually a pretty calm night, the moon hung just above the horizon and a million stars glittered around it. The rolling light from the lighthouse was the only other light there to take away from the beauty of it all.

He shook his head. “You’re talking nonsense! Come back here, where it’s safe!” His voice was pleading.

I ignored him. It was so peaceful here, no worries, no doubts, nothing to worry about. It was wonderful. I raised my arms slowly from my sides, my cotton dress billowing in the wind. I could feel the energy inside of me building up from my toes, up my legs, into my torso, fingers, and head. It was elating. I could feel myself ready to jump.

“Melanie, don’t do it!” He took a few steps toward me. I rose onto my tip toes. He screamed my name as I pushed myself away from the earth and took off toward the sea.

Thoughts raced through my head as I was rushing through the air, the wind whipping even harder and faster around me. I pointed my hands forward into a dive, ready to dip in the moment I hit the water.

I thought of my life with him, of how he treated me. He was a gentleman, for sure. He was kind, caring, funny, everything I could have asked for. But he was too perfect. He was too much. I would never be able to share my secrets with him, never be able to experience the joy of being where I belong. He didn’t understand what it was that drove me to this. He didn’t understand that I was meant to be here, to be in the water.

To live my life in the water.

I crashed through the waves, taking a breath as my hand split the surface of the waves and I pushed myself upward. It was freezing, the chill of the water biting my skin as if a thousand needles were sticking out of me. The current rolled me, but not harshly. I looked around, my eyes focusing to the murky surroundings, before I pushed myself back up to the surface and took a breath of air.

I looked up and could see and hear Zack calling to me, panic plain on his face even though he had to be at least a hundred feet up. He disappeared from view, no doubt to come and rescue me.

But I didn’t need rescuing; I didn’t want rescuing. I looked toward the moon on the horizon. It looked so lonely just sitting there by itself. I wanted to be with it, to dance among the stars with it.

I wanted to be home.

I took a breath and dove under the water again, kicking my feet against the numbing cold. It was spreading throughout my whole body very quickly, but I didn’t care. I had missed the cold of the water before it would turn warm against my skin. I had missed the waves crashing against the shore and the wind over the surface making ripples to ride on. I missed it all.

“Melanie!” I heard my name as I resurfaced yet again and turned toward him as he was making his way into the water. I smiled knowing full well that he couldn’t come with me, that he would never love me the same way, if at all, again.

He tried to reach me, but stopped as soon as he saw me shake my head. “Goodbye,” I said, loud enough for him to hear, as I turned and pushed myself away, my fin kicking up water behind me as I dove into the depths, heading home once again.

A LONELY DAY

Looking out the window of my drab cubicle, I can only think about him. And about how I promised my mother when I was a little girl that I’d never be a “bad girl” and sleep around with men. It’s not like I didn’t already feel guilty – I did – but that didn’t mean I didn’t fall for him. He fell for me, too. So, technically, I wasn’t a “bad girl.” But, actually, I really am.

Phones ring in the distance, an annoying chiming sound that reverberates throughout the office, and I zone back into what I’ve been working on: paperwork. Oh joy.

It takes all of five minutes before I think about him again, about his tan skin, his stubbled face, and his dark eyes that can draw you in like a black hole. Not terrifying, but relieving. Looking into his eyes as he holds me is like a fresh breeze washing over my skin, delighting all my senses and making me feel renewed. But I’m not in his arms right now, despite how much I want to be.

That’s when I look at the clock and notice that it’s ten minutes before my shift is over. I groan and slump over my paperwork, thinking how I’ll have just enough time to run into him on our way home. I skim through the papers in a hurry, trying to make the time seem as though it’s going faster than it really is, but when I look up again, only two minutes have passed.

Ugh, c’mon! I just want to leave! I think as I scribble black ink onto a form that I’ll have to file later.

My boss walks in and tells the office, “Okay, everyone, you can go home. Just put your finished piles in the receiving before you go.” He struts out with a nod, a satisfied grin on his face.

I rush to pick up my papers, stacking them in whatever order they just happen to fall, and fill my purse with my miscellaneous belongings. After placing my papers in the receiving, I head straight for the door and out into the fading sunlight.

My eyes scour the streets as I walk hastily back toward home, hoping to run into him before I make it to my doorstep – or he makes it to his. We are neighbors, after all.

The sounds of the city are muffled by my thoughts of how much I want him, how much I need and desire him. After a long, boring day of work, I just want to… unwind. A smile spreads across my face as I think about the nights of passion and the wonderful times we’ve spent together. It’s almost as if everything I was taught and told was wrong when I was little seems so good and satisfying now.

Passing the café that he works at, I take a peek inside, knowing he won’t be there. A flash of tan skin and black hair catch my eye, and I stop, turning to face the café. There he is, getting ready to leave from work. It’s almost like it’s too good to be true! Maybe I should go in and grab a drink before he—

I look at the woman in front of him, a short white girl with straight blond hair and a small black dress on. She’s embracing him with such intimacy that I can’t peel my eyes away. I can feel a rise of heat reach my cheeks and the sting of tears in my eyes as I notice him glance my way and go wide eyed, knowing that he’d be caught if the woman in his arms saw me. Not that she knows we’re together. We’re just neighbors to her, not lovers.

I turn quickly, knowing full well that we can’t be caught. I stare at the ground as I walk away as fast as I can, practically jogging away from the situation, to my home only two blocks away. As soon as I reach the stairwell on the inside of the apartment building, I break down into tears. What the hell am I doing?

Even though I feel as though I’ve been crushed by a landslide, I slowly make my way up the stairs and into my apartment. As I close the door behind me and look around the living room that greets me with its warm, cheerful colors, I can’t help but just sob. How could I have possibly thought that he would leave his wife for me? How could I have possibly gotten myself into this situation? I was always told to be a “good girl” and be responsible and all that crap. Why didn’t I listen? Why did he have to charm me with his brilliant smile and his strong arms?

Why am I so weak? I wipe the tears from my face and look around the room. I’m leaning against the door – which I have to push myself away from – and make my way to my kitchen. Looking out the window, I see that they made it home, too. They’re talking to each other as if I don’t even exist in his life. They’re smiling and laughing, getting ready to prepare dinner probably.

I see him look up at me from his place at the sink where he’s washing his hands, a look of guilt and sorrow on his face. He can see me crying. He knows how I feel about him. He knows how he feels for me, but isn’t man enough to admit it to his wife.

I think of how we met, of how I had just moved in and was having trouble getting my couch up the stairs by myself and how he helped me to carry it up. I remember that first night we slept together and how I knew his wife was in the apartment in the next building. I remember how we said, “I love you,” to one another and how we couldn’t stand to be away from one another. But it all comes down to the fact that he’s married. And there’s nothing I can do to change that.

As we stare at each other from the distance of only about twenty feet, I can’t help but wonder if he’s thinking the same things. Does he even really love me? Does he even care that he was the one who initiated the romance? Does he even care that he’s the one that decided to turn this into something so secretive? Does he even care that I fell in love with him?

He looks away as he closes the curtain, laughing at something his wife said. My day just went from bad, to worse. I wish I had never met him or had been involved with him. I wish I had never set my eyes on his. But above all, I wish I didn’t feel as lonely and abandoned as I did right now.

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