Short Stories

Running just as fast as I can

Maria sat on the bed looking at her hands.

“It’s not you,” the young man said, pacing the small bedroom and trying to ignore the stuffed teddy bears and dolls house. “It’s me.”

“Yes,” Maria said quietly and then looked at him.

When Maria had first met David he had been the most beautiful man she had ever come across. He had wooed her in an old-fashioned sense, even asking to see her parents, and impressing her father. Impressing him enough to let him take out his only daughter despite her age only being sixteen.

She had just been flattered that he had shown any interest. She wasn’t the most popular in school, a normal student. The one time she had gone around to his house she had been warned off by their huge white Alsatian. At least at the time she had thought the dog was warning her off.

They had dated for about ten months, he had gone off to university and she had visited. Others in his halls of residence had been surprised at her age, but she hadn’t cared. She had a man on her arm and glowed. Now though the glow was gone, her hair hung lank around her shoulders but it was her eyes that had changed the most.

Ten months ago she had been an innocent. Now she was less innocent and something in her heart had hardened.

His mother had cornered her just the other week. “You are so good for him. He is better.”

And that was the problem, she hadn’t been told he had an illness. She’d been kept in the dark and fed bullshit.

When they had first started to go out he had turned up with a nurse’s top in the back of the car.

“Are you a nurse?” she asked, knowing that he was going to study maths.

“Care worker,” he said. “For the extra cash.”

She’d smiled and been happy with the answer. But he had lied. She now knew that he used the top to go in and out of the mental ward and not look like a patient. He had a label and medication.

Except she made him feel so good that he thought he didn’t need the medication. Now Maria sat on her bed, because her back was playing up. A trapped nerve due to blunt trauma. She looked at David’s hands, they didn’t feel blunt.

She turned slightly, swallowing the pain and smiling at him.

“It is all your fault.”

“But I love…”

“Run,” she said.

He looked at her with a confused expression on his face, one that would have melted her heart a while ago but now left her cold.

“Run,” she repeated.

Outside a car pulled into the drive. David slid his eyes in the direction of the window.

“He knows.”

David’s eyes widened and he looked at her.

“I told him everything.”

“But I love you,” he said.

“I really don’t care,” she said, and smiled.

Drawing back David took a step to the stairs and then looked back once. He held out a hand and then flinched as he heard the door open downstairs. Turning he ran.

On the bed Maria allowed one tear to fall.

This is a short story inspired by the daily prompt – by the skin of your teeth.

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