The prompt from Search Engine Stories this week is throw away the key.
This is a story of love gone wrong….
‘It should be visible,’ Rima thought. ‘The pain in your heart when the one you love leaves’.
The air was still in the kitchen, as if the whole house had been vacuum-sealed.
Rima had been expecting it all along. Dan was a wild card, her friends always said so, up to all sorts of shenanigans.
He’d been caught, dealing in clubs, on the street. He was on probation but Rima knew he was still up to no good. The late night phone calls, the disappearing acts, the unexplained cuts and bruises.
The night life was a rough life. ‘It’s the only life I know,’ said Dan as if he fancied himself as some kind of gangster; but Rima knew the truth – he was afraid of trying anything else in case he failed at it. And he couldn’t disappoint the crowd he ran with.
‘I can’t live like this any more,’ she said one morning as Dan coughed his way through breakfast, hungover and grumpy, his skin mottled after standing on street corners all night. Dan ignored her, trudging into bed. He would sleep all day if she let him.
Rima sat, staring out the window, chewing for an hour on a piece of toast, idly flicking at crumbs on the tablecloth.
At three the police came. Rima got in a panic, sure they’d come for Dan.
‘It’s your brother,’ they said. ‘He’s been shot. He’s dead.’
Rima screamed – ‘Nooooo’ just like they did in the films. The world was in slow motion. Her blood was sinking, falling right out of her body. She thought her heart would stop. Her brother was all she had. He was only 19.
Dan came out of the bedroom. Rima held out her arms, needing him. He sidestepped her, moving to the sports bag he had left by the door. Rima began to wail: ‘You care more about what’s in that bag than you do about me.’
The policemen looked uncomfortable, backing as subtly as they could towards the door. ‘We’ll be in touch,’ they said.
‘What’s in that bag?’ she asked.
‘Nothing.’ Dan kicked it behind the couch. ‘I’m sorry about your brother.’ He held her, tight. For a moment she almost believed him but the bag kept coming in and out of her line of vision.
After a while Dan went back to bed, indicating she should come with him.
‘I just need a glass of water first,’ she said.
Rima waited once more. Her mouth tasted sour. Her throat was heavy as if she had swallowed sand. She heard Dan snore and opened the sports bag, dropping on it like a hawk spotting a mouse from two hundred feet up.
There was a gun inside. Rima was sorry to say she knew a thing or two about guns – it made her wonder what kind of life she was leading to be able to admit such a thing – and it had been recently fired.
There was one other thing in the bag. It had a bullet hole in it. Some blood spotted the edges. The bandanna her brother always wore.
Rima packed all of Dan’s things. She could have been dreaming but for the sharp knot in her stomach. A bottle broken at the edges, lodged in her guts.
Dan stumbled out of the bedroom. He saw his bags and he knew. The gun was on the table.
‘If I didn’t love you so , you would already be dead for what you did, taking my brother from me. Go now. Far from here. Far from me. Don’t ever return.’
Dan said nothing. Skulking, the worst kind of coward, dragging his feet. He looked back at her, a pleading light in his eyes, a useless kind of penitent – but it was too late. Rima had already locked up her heart, encased in lead and thorns, and thrown away the key.
She sat by the window until the room was gray, until the night birds called out, their cries ringing clear across the silent city. A moth clung to the window sill, defying the push of the wind. She felt like she was made of rags, or cornmeal dry from lack of water; crumbling, shapeless, blown into pieces by sorrow.
sometimes it feels like we live in a dream where we see things differently and then harsh reality hits and you’re scrambling for some comfort, I sort of think of this reading your story, but I am glad at least Rima was free of Dan, only she can do that
She felt like she was made of rags, or cornmeal dry from lack of water; crumbling, shapeless, blown into pieces by sorrow.
Very nice line, Selma. Interesting story.
Greatstory, Selma. I very much enjoyed that you wrote it in a style that is different to your usual one- less ornate, more hard-boiled fiction-ish. Good work, David.
Hi everyone, I think this story is a shining example of a story that should have been abandoned. I’m not happy with it at all but I’m including it to show how difficult it is to follow through on an idea sometimes. It just didn’t flow for me at all and I struggled with it for ages. Some of the imagery is OK, but for the most part I give it a big thumbs down.
I think it’s important when you write not to be overly self-critical, but it is also important to be realistic about the worth of your story. I think i should have stopped after the first line. C’est la vie!!! 😀
your point about living in a dream is a very valid one. I think that’s true of a lot of us. And then reality hits with a bang…
I think I’ll keep that line and throw away the rest. Let’s just say, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
You are very kind. And you’re right, it is a more hard-boiled style. I hope you had a good break. Great to see you back!!
why??? why did he do it??? gangster or not,,, why????
I think this story was part of a much larger whole. I don’t know why he did it. Not yet…..
Selma ~ this story was very different to your usual style but that doesn’t make it bad.
The only thing I thought was that Rima reacted far too calmly to the discovery of who was responsible for her brother’s death but that’s just me projecting my own reactions onto the story.
I don’t think I could have calmly packed his bags while he slept but perhaps Rima is a far more centred soul than me.
Don’t be too hard on yourself hon. I couldn’t write a story of fiction to save myself. I admire you very much that you can.
You’re being far too critical of yourself Selma. This story has a strong theme and disturbing twists–I like it a lot. It just needs a bit more length and emotional explosiveness–that’s all. I think it impossible for you to write anything badly 🙂
What gives a story worth to you?
I actually liked it, and I found her reaction not calm at all. Perhaps it’s more the ending – I can see someone on the surface calmly throwing out the trash, but inside seething, boiling – but maybe she’s just in denial. Maybe it’s not an example of a piece to be thrown away, but a piece that is waiting to be explored and finished. 😉
Or maybe not. If you don’t love it, don’t waste time on it.
Don’t you love my contradicting comments? lol!
that is a valid point. In reality, she should have been foaming at the mouth. I hadn’t realised at the time, but I guess it is a difference for me stylistically. Oddly, it’s more of the way I used to write. Maybe I had a flashback going on there for a moment. LOL.
I really appreciate your comment. It actually inspired me to write a post over at Search Engine Stories.
Thanks so much!!
Writing is contradictory, I think. You’re right – I need to expand it to find the true heart of it. You are always so encouraging!!
she didn’t turn him in??? I must admit that part didn’t sell for me – but this dodges and spins quite well – I didn’t expect the brother being shot at all – well crafted surprise – and so many nice images here – my favorites are the moth at the end, and the hour long toast munching with the exquisite detail of the crumbs on the table cloth – it seems to want expansion and more detailed back-story rather than abandonment to me – nice read, I enjoyed it!
I know. I know. I’ll put it in the ‘Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time’ box.