Short Story: Hearing Denial
This short story has been entered in theSprout Short Story Competition.
He waited up for her, pacing down the corridor constantly checking his watch, his hands desperate to twitch back the curtains. It seemed as if the whole world was sleeping, holding it’s finger to its mouth hushing the world, teasing him with silence. But he was desperate for noise he wanted to hear the slam of a taxi door, the high pitched giggle of them getting out, the crunch of the shoes on the gravel and finally her voice breathless and gentle mocking his concern. He glanced at the clock once more, watching the seconds tick by. His heart was pounding uncontrollably, but he wouldn’t allow himself to think about it. She had to be coming home.
They said it was for my own good. I guessed they would, the voices were low and soothing talking about forgotten childhood dreams that could still be achieved if I just did the right thing. The house smelt of lies and deceit, no matter how many scented candles she burnt, the smell of deceit just wouldn’t shift. It was in the air, stuck to the furniture constantly reminding us that we weren’t a family. We were just people glued together by lies. He reaches out for me. I think it’s supposed to be a sign of affection, but I can’t remember the last time someone tried to touch me and it scares me. I flinch, arch my body away from him hiss like a cat “stay the hell away from me”. I think it will work. They’re scared you see, they’re scared that one day I’ll let the secret escape my lips, and once I do everyone will know.
People walking down the street wont smile at us, they look away disgusted and embarrassed. The silence that once filled our rooms will be filled with accusations and truth, it will be full of police cars and social workers “do gooders” it what he calls them. I’ll use that bit of power when things get too tough, when I want to lash out and hurt someone the way that I’m hurting. But really, I’ll keep the secret closed and tight, I’ll lock my lips and smile at the people in the street. I’ll hold my temper and stay away from those “do gooders” because no one wants to be known as the problem child, especially not with my problems.
I’d been fighting when I saw her, her eyes locked on to mine and for a brief moment I thought she was going to smile. My nose with crusty with dry blood and my hand showed my battle wounds, my face was drenched in sweat and my white t shirt was torn and stained. I remember I was angry, kicking out a tree stump cursing myself, cursing the world. My arms were flinging around, but my punches lacked control and power. I turned around slowly and met her gaze, my eyes locked on to hers. I tried to regain some control, I gave her a cheeky wink, let my eyes linger down her body pausing a little too long, letting a slow smile spread on my lips. I nodded my head slowly, as if I was approving her. I’d seen my brother perform this routines a thousand times. I knew she was a posh bird- her clothes and attitude showed it.
I’d dealt with the posh birds before, they’re find they need a bit of a bad boy fix, desperate to hear you use some cocky chat up lines on you, wanting the excitement of meeting you on the street corner, wondering what stolen car you'd turn up in. And they stay with you for a while too, until their daddy’s find out that all those nights revising were actually nights on the wrong side of town, they’re sniff your cheap market aftershave and forbid their darlings from ever seeing you again. So they’re write you a letter, tear stained stating why they’re breaking up with you. And the cycle will continue. I decided that if this girl had seen me punching like a girl and swearing like a trooper she was definitely worth using some of my bad boy charm on. I never for one second realized that I would be the one addicted to her. You’ve asked me if I knew now, what would happen would I have walked away. Would I have taken my size ten Nikes and battered self and left her in her world and stayed in mine? Not a chance.
Lucy came over the other day. Her uniform was pristine, her hair styled neatly, pushed away from her face showing her delicate little features. Her expression was full of anxiety, she perched awkwardly on my bed, discreetly stealing glances at me. Our appearances couldn’t be more different now. At one point they called us the twins, popular and brainy we did everything together. Our arms constantly linked physically preventing people from separating us. She talked a lot, babbling on about people who I’ve forgotten although they grin at me on my notice board, smiling and waving at me.
“Leah” she says, her hand touching my arm, “Don’t let some, some man do this to you! Come on Leah you’ve got your whole future ahead of you, just don’t let him make your life any harder.” Her voice is a mixture of concern and uncharacteristic venom. I smile at her and wonder how I managed to lose my best friend? I’m overcome by fury, I want to leap off my bed and rip her auburn curls form her head. I want to scream all those words that I heard Kieran mutter, the words that sounded hateful and mean. I want rip my heart out and show her how ferociously it beats for “some man”. But I don’t. I calmly take her hand off my leg and reach under my pillow, taking out the crumpled image I have of “some guy” and whisper, “He’s not just some guy Luce, he’s not.”
I don’t know when it quite happened, I don’t remember the first conversation we had, but I know she laughed. She had a way of titling her head back and gently squeezing my arm when I told her something funny. She taught me long winded words that sounded like they belonged in a dictionary, and I taught her short snappy words that could hurt more than a gun shot. They sounded wrong when she pronounced them, they sounded dirty and mean and I wanted to wash her tongue and take them back, to keep her mouth pure. It wasn’t supposed to happen, it was suppose to be just a three week thing, no ties no commitment just a guy being a guy, fooling around testing his boundaries seeing how far I could push the totty. But three weeks turned into three months, then six months then..
I don’t want to think about it. I still can’t describe how she managed to take my breath away with just one look. I’m telling you that girl had my heart, she captured it and pulled it anyway she wanted. Looking back her beauty was not noticeable, she wasn’t like a page three model, but she had something. Something that made you want to watch her, she had something that made you want to hold and keep her right next to you. She had me. They’ll try and twist my words I know, they say I’m just a lad’s lad, I’m in capable of feeling love. They say to her “think of your future, you don’t want his sort bringing you down, you’re on to bigger and better things.” And they'll persuade her. They whisper those lies to her and say “where is he now, huh? Where is he with his ring and his promise of marriage” and slowly, she’ll forget about me. us. It. Soon, I’ll just be another memory she’s learnt to forget about.
He thinks I’m coping. I heard him telling her that I was doing “mighty fine job” of carrying on. He even called you “an unfortunate incident that will be soon sorted”. He tried to get more information from me last night, like he did when I was a child and I thought that the solution to every problem was going to him. It’s amazing how much trust you can put in to one person. He sat there, his voice was calm, but he did the hand. You know lightly drumming it on the table, repeating the same thing “talking wouldn’t have got you in this mess” reassuring me they weren’t angry just concerned. But his hand kept drumming. I promised I would sort this and he smiled, that smile was all I needed when I was little to make me feel like a super hero. Just a smile. I wonder if you can hear him. I want to cover your ears and protect you, protect myself. I’ve made my decision.
IMAGE: Michelle Brea Away