A story in 50-word segments.
I am invited, but do not wish to go. Parties are not for me.
My friend smiles like a serpent. It’ll be fun, he says.
You’re wrong, I say.
So what if I am? What do you have to lose?
As it turned out, more than either of us realised.
It had been a year since him. The him that broke her into tiny pieces.
My relationship ended the previous month.
Glasses clink around us. The foreign house shudders to the beat of music and drunken revelry.
She presses close to me.
We are the only people in our world.
The party moves. We move with it, but we move to each other’s rhythms.
We go to a pub. We could be anywhere. We’re still talking.
In my head I see:
The glint of someone else’s ring on her finger.
Her getting hit by a bus.
Something will go wrong.
Raindrops splash down from the heavens. Her bare shoulders prickle.
People dart out from the pub, through the gravel car park to their cars, trying to shield themselves from the deluge.
We stand and lock gazes, lips, hands.
“I like you.”
And that was everything there was to say.
For the first few weeks it’s a secret.
We never explicitly speak about it. We do not name it. When you name things, they die.
We cancel plans; make excuses to friends to spend stolen hours together.
We go back home with secret smiles in the corners of our mouths.
We can’t have rules because she’ll want to break them, she says.
But she is lying to me for the first time.
The rules are hushed; like the whispers of lovers between the sheets
No lies, no cheating.
And one more…
…I am not to fall in love with her.
The rules were broken.
By me. Her. Both of us. I pore over the evidence — text messages, voicemails, photographs — like a historian studying ancient, undiscovered manuscripts. I realise I broke them first.
She was gone. I pictured her in her own place. Hangers unburdened by my clothes, drawers uncluttered.
She promised we would talk.
We concentrate on the street, not each other.
Thin, translucent smoke curls into the crisp air.
Her manner is cool and distant, perhaps uncaring. I am all nervous twitches; my lips taste of blood.
Her cigarette crackles with each drag.
I never did like silence.
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