Short Stories

Good Goodbyes

She waits on her bed. The sun streaming through the window and hitting the duvet making the simple faded flowers dance with colour. Softly a tear tracks down her cheek and drops onto her hand. She doesn’t make a move to stop it. Just sits like a stone, not moving. Inside she feels nothing. Inside she is trying to be like a stone. Trying not to feel.

She waits.

Outside a car pulls up and for the first time the girl moves. She is a girl, or rather she is on the cusp of woman-hood. Still a child yet in another year won’t be. But her face already shows signs of wear. Her eyes are too old and the fading bruise across her cheekbone declares just how uncompromising her life is.

Behind the sound of the car country music plays and for a moment she remembers the long drives with her family. A ghost of a smile flickers across her face but, just like an apparition, fades before it fully forms. Below the car engine shuts off.

The front door opens.

Footsteps on the stairs.

The girl turns stiffly toward the door. In it stands a man, tall and pale, slightly stooped as if trying to deny his height.

“I’m sorry,” he rumbles.

It’s one thing she always loved about him, his voice. So deep. When he hugged her and spoke she would feel that rumble in her very soul.

Yet when she looks at him she hides the hurt and makes herself ice. “No,” she says, her voice as light as the wind. “You aren’t”

“I am. Is there anything I can do?” He steps into the room.

The girl tilts her head and looks at him. He stops suddenly uncomfortable. The person on the bed is not the one he knows. She is looking at him, not submissively but with uncompromising coldness. Normally they cower and try to touch him. This one does not.

She stands and moves with a stiffness that shows the bruises he cannot see, but knows exist. She steps forward and smiles.

The man steps back. The girl is looking at him as a cat might a mouse. His face furrows in confusion. He is the predator, yet she is acting as if he were her prey. Off-guard he takes another step back.

“What can you do?” she asks, a musing lyrical note to her voice. She looks up at the ceiling and hums, thinking.

He is uncertain. He wants to take a step back but he knows that to do so would show how unnerved he is.

Then she is moving, gone is the stiffness, she glides toward him as if her body is liquid. She invades his space before he can step back, and then cheek to cheek she whispers in his ear.

“Run.”

Then she freezes remaining where she is. Below the music shuts off and there is silence. The man feels light-headed as he turns. He doesn’t look at her but he runs. Flying down the stairs and out to the car.

Above, in her room the girl listens and smiles.

This came to me today but I am uncertain whether I have managed to capture the horror of the girl. The man is truly afraid when he flees, which he should be. 🙂

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