Just Breathe

short stories, Uncategorized

Breathe in, now breathe out. That’s what they say to do when you when dealing with negativity. Like breathing in and out is going to stop the tears threatening to fall from my eyes at the sting of those words.

“Ha! Look at that girl run!” the blonde one laughs to the brunette.

“Oh it’s the real life Migaloo! Careful ladies, she might just eat us.” The brunette replies.

The earphones are playing music in my ears but I can still hear their voices. It cuts me deep. I’m running on the treadmill at the gym. I’ve only been tunning for five minutes but I press on for twenty-five more minutes. Determined to not let their words get to me and finish my workout. Thirty minutes a day, I remind myself. Thirty minutes a day of actively moving my body is enough when starting out. Maybe I’ll even get a personal trainer, I’ve been told they’re great at helping people lose weight.

Ignoring their words, pretending that they’re not hurting my feelings. I feel it though, the sting in my eyes and the heaviness in my chest. The fire of anger in my stomach.

“Does she not realise she’s too fat to be here?” the brunette asks rhetorically.

“She’s well past help.” The blonde states.

“She’s ugly too! Just look at that outfit she’s wearing!” they both laugh at their discriminatory words.

Truth is, it hurts. I can feel the tears threatening my eyes. I finish on the treadmill, grab my things and leave. I don’t know how to use anything else but the treadmill so I only stay for as long as I’m on there.

The bus home, I’m brutal on myself. Playing them back like videos in my head. The familiar burn on my nose warns me that I’m about to cry so I slide my sunglasses on my nose. The sun is setting, I don’t need them but I don’t want people to see me crying. It will probably give them the ammunition to bully me too.

Staring out the window, I allow the tears to fall down my face. Watching the trees pass us by, I wonder if trying to workout was a good idea. Maybe they’re right, maybe it is too late for me. Maybe I’m wasting my time. My reflection in the window is like adding fuel to the fire. Sitting in the seat, I stare at my reflection in the window across the aisle. My stomach protrudes outwards, my folded arms sitting on the top of my belly. My body takes over the entire two-seater seat. I turn my head and look down to my shoes, elbows on my knees resting my head the palm of my hands.

You’ll be home soon, I assured myself. Then you can cry in private. I scold myself silently for not charging my phone before going to the gym. I wish I was listening to music right now. It’d make it easier to tune it all out. The laughter and excited chit chat is deafening. Sighing, I look out the windscreen and smile. Finally! The next stop is mine. I’ve never been so excited to go home to an empty house before.

I press the stop button and the driver pulls over. Swiping my card, saying goodbye I step off the bus and trek towards my home. It’s another five minute walk but I don’t mind. It is quiet here compared to on the bus, that’s if you tune out the birds chittering and singing in the trees. The wind hitting my hair, blowing the stray bits in the face. For just a moment, all the negativity experienced before now forgotten. Even if it is for a brief moment, when I close the front door behind me, the emptiness hits me. Filling my chest with unwanted hurt. It’s not a physical pain though, it’s an emotional one. It sits heavy on my chest. The panic that you aren’t good enough.

I put one heel on the back of my shoes to kick it off, repeating with the other shoe. Walking towards the back of the house where my bedroom is, I drop the bag near the doorway. I peel the shirt over my head and slide my tights off my body. Standing in the mirror, I examine my body.

“They’re right,” I whisper as I run my hands over my stomach. Grabbing at the fat areas. Poking, prodding and pulling at it. Turning to the left, I stare at the rolls above my hips and the one sitting on my waist. Turning to the right, I do the same. Hanging my head in shame, I throw myself onto my bed. Tears stream from my eyes now as I recite their words in my head.

“Ugly.” Boom

“Fat.” Boom

Laughter echoing in my head.

“Breathe Kels,” I say loudly. I roll off the bed and walk back to the mirror.

I point to the reflection.

“Stop!” I say. “It’s not me. You are NOT beyond help. You are NOT ugly. You may be fat but your determination WILL make sure that you won’t be for long.”

Nodding, I smile. Breathing in and out. That’s it.

Just BREATHE!

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Drowning

short stories

I swig on the beer in my left hand and tap my thigh with the right. My eyes closed, I sway from left to right to left again with Demi Lovato song playing in the background. I feel relaxed, sated even. The most positive feelings I have felt in weeks, hell in months even. I don’t remember the last time I felt genuinely happy. Maybe it was when I was teaching my niece to play the piano or when I was with my girl friends at the movies or maybe it was with him. The one I want and the one I can’t have. He’s with me now, sitting on the floor of my room with me. I open my eyes and he’s looking down at his phone. I feel a pang in my chest. Is it hurt? Or is it jealousy? Perhaps a little of both. Sighing I skull down the contents of my beer.

“Ah.” I say, licking my lips in satisfaction. I get up and head towards the fridge.

He looks up, smiles and shakes his head. “Already done? You better slow down, you know you’re a lightweight.”

I shrug my shoulders and grab another beer out and sitting back on the floor. He’s looking back down at his phone. His brows furrowed and creasing together.

“Uh-oh, I know that look.” I smiling I sip on my drink again.

He locks his phone and takes a mouthful of his water next to him.

“What look?” he feigns his innocence.

“Don’t try to hide it. You have never been too good at hiding secrets from me.” I laugh out loud. Pointing the bottom of my bottle at his phone, I ask, “what’s going on?”

He shrugs his shoulders. He stares at the floor and replies, “just a girl.”

And just like that, my smile fades. Why did I have to ask? That look is always accompanied by those three little words. It’s always just a girl. I swallow the lump in my throat.

“Ah. What’d you do this time?” I laugh. Trying to hide the weak tremble in my voice.

He sighs, stretching out his legs in front of him then leaning on his elbows. “She wants me to make a commitment to her.”

I stare at him. Blinking, I shake my head. “She knows you’re not the commitment type? I mean, you don’t even want to get married.”

He nods and sips on his water again. I ask if he wants a beer and he said no. he has to work in the morning. I mean, so do I but in my current state, I don’t even care anymore. I hate my job. The only reason I stay there is because I need to pay the bills.

I drink from the bottle again and the song changes to Lennon Stella. Her soft angelic voice fills in head. I’m standing in the middle of the room, singing like everybody else softly as I sway my hips from left to right. Eyes closed I fade into nothingness, letting the sadness of the music wash over my body.

The lyrics speak to me on another level, “what made me think that I was special, I’m not special.” I sing the lyrics as if they were my own words. It’s how I feel though. I am no one special. I’m sitting in a room with him, but I still feel so alone.

I open my eyes, expecting him to have his face in his phone again but he’s staring at me. His face frozen in awe.

“What?” I ask, sitting back down on the ground. Hugging my legs close to my body.

“Nothing.” He shrugs his shoulders. “I just haven’t seen you like this before. Is everything okay?”

I turn my head away from him. Am I okay? I can’t even answer this question for myself let alone anyone else. I don’t know how to put into words how I am feeling now. Just the thought of talking about it has tears threatening to fall from my eyes. My nose burns in anticipation of an impending sneeze or worse, a breakdown. My heart beats faster and my breathing quickens. Out of nowhere, panic rises in my chest. Sitting on my heart and lungs, straining me.

“Have you ever been sad? So sad that it cripples you?” I turn my head back towards him. Staring in his brown eyes.

He stares blankly at me. “Okay, I think you have had enough of this for one night.” He moves toward me and grabs my beer off me. he gets up and walks to the kitchen, tipping whatever was left into the sink.

“Because, that’s how I feel right now. I’m sad before I’m stuck in this place, in a job that I hate, a tiny house, no family to speak of and worse, wanting something that I cannot have.” I get off the floor, crossing my arms across my chest. I pace the lounge room. I can’t believe that I just said all of that out loud. Ranting isn’t something I would usually do. I like to keep things to myself, bottling them up and keeping it buried down deep inside me. It’s not healthy, I know that, but it is what works for me. I don’t want people to think that I’m weak for talking about my problems or for even crying about them.

“You’re still thinking about that guy? I thought you said you were over that? He says crossing his arms across his chest and leaning on the wall.

He looks worried. About me? about himself? About the girl that wants him to commit to a relationship? I can’t tell, and I don’t want to know.

“I thought that I was.” I sigh, feeling defeated. “I can’t stop thinking about him.”

We stand in silence. It’s deafening to me. I can’t handle it. I want to scream and shout at him to listen to me. I don’t need the advice I know he’s thinking of and I don’t want it.

“If he doesn’t see how great you are then he’s not worth it.” He tells me. Smiling that small crooked smile that he does. It’s the smile that made me fall for him the first place.

He’s leaning on the wall of my kitchen, arms crossed in front of his chest. He’s wearing a white button-down shirt, the top four buttons are undone, showing his chest hair. He has his sleeves rolled up to his elbows and long black pants. He took his shoes off before he came into the house, but he kept his socks on. His dark hair spiked up with gel and his 5 o’clock shadow is starting to show. He’s never looked so good than he does right now. In my half drunken state, I feel the need to kiss him, but I know that if I do that then he will know how I really feel about him. Am I ready for him to know? I shake my head. No, I’m not.

“What is it?” he asks, his brows furrowed again.

“it’s just, I’m lonely Kevin. I feel so alone. I know that I have Rita, Tibby, my family and even you but I’m so lonely.” I walk to the couch and sit on it, crossing my legs underneath my body.

My sadness isn’t just that I can’t have him, it’s more than that. It’s the aching loneliness that I feel every day. Some days I can pretend that it isn’t there. I can put on a smile even laugh here and there but when I close the door behind me, all the weight that I try so hard to ignore when I’m not home just hits me like a stack of breaks. The panic rises in chest and sits there until I just let go of the light that is holding it all in and allow the darkness through. I’ll then curl into a ball on my bed and just cry, I long silent cry that wracks through my body. Shaking uncontrollably, tears staining my face kind of cry.

Kind of like now, hugging my legs close to my chest. I bury my head into my knees and tears stream down my face. He’s right, I shouldn’t have had so much to drink because it just allowed my darkness to seep through the exposed cracks. My body shakes uncontrollably, and I hear Kevin shifting to his feet and walking towards me. His hand on my shoulder, I cry harder. I don’t want him to see me like this. This is embarrassing for me, but I can’t stop calm myself down.

“Maybe you should leave.” I say softly. The storm brewing in my chest feels like it’s crashing against my rib cage. It hurts, this anxiety and panic is hurting me. I can’t stop the tears anymore. They escape my eyes and fall down my face.

“Hey, what is it? Tell me.” He whispers in my ears.

“I don’t want to talk about it. If I talk about it then I –” I trail off, sobbing softly.

Not knowing what else to do, well that’s what I assume anyway. Kneeling on the floor next to me, he wraps his arm around my shoulders. Holding me close, he whispers that everything will be okay.

His kindness only makes me want him more, but I can’t do it. I can’t allow myself to ruin the best thing that has happened to me.  So, I keep my mouth shut and let him hold me. Just because I can’t tell him how I feel, doesn’t mean I don’t need him as my friend. I let him hold me and listen to his voice. I can’t stop crying but listening to him is calming the storm swelling in my chest. This is all I need right now. Someone to hug me and tell me that everything will be okay.

“It hurts now but tomorrow it will hurt just that little bit less.” Those were the last words I hear before I close my eyes.

My body is bobbing and weaving the ocean of pain, loneliness and anxiety. It feels like I’m drowning.

Backslide

short stories

The darkness of the room, it shocks me to the reality that he’s not here anymore. It has been weeks since I took my engagement ring off and told him to leave. I know that it was the right thing to do but I’m lying in my empty bed on my left side, looking at the empty space the he used to occupy wishing that we didn’t say goodbye. I see the digital alarm clock flashing the time at me. It’s almost two in the morning and I can’t seem to get him off my mind. Sighing, I roll to my right and grab my phone off the night stand.

I miss you.

I send in a text. I shouldn’t be texting him, I know that. He’s trying to move on with his life and I should do the same thing. There won’t be a text back, he usually doesn’t. I mean it though, I do miss him. More than I should, given the way I left.

It started as a good day, we didn’t scream or yell at each other. That’s not what we did, we would talk it out. I don’t know what happened, walking hand in hand down the market and it just felt different. He felt different and later that night, he was packing his bags and left. I didn’t even cry, I just took the ring off and put it in the drawer next to my bed.

I look at that drawer now, it seems like it’s beating like a heart would but it’s not. I know it’s not. Those things don’t happen in real life. I’m just delirious from lack of sleep. I drag the duvet cover my head in an attempt to sleep. It doesn’t happen because the doorbell rings. I look at the time again, ten past two. I choose to ignore it but it sounds again, then again straight after that.

“God damn it.” I whisper to myself. Untangling my body from the sheets, I drag myself my bed.

The doorbell sounds again.

“I’m coming!” I yell from the hallway towards the kitchen.

I briefly wonder who could be ringing the doorbell at this time. Then I remember the text message and I stop in my tracks. I count the steps towards the front door. Three steps from where I’m standing, twelve from my bedroom.

One, two, three steps and I’m opening to door to see a tall figure standing in my veranda light. We don’t say hello. We just stare at each other. He’s wearing a long sleeve shirt and jeans while I’m more casual in one of his old shirts and pyjama shorts with pictures of pugs on them. It’s cold outside but I don’t invite him in. then again, he doesn’t need an invitation.

He takes a step towards me and I step backwards. The door closes behind me as he wraps me in his arms and his lips press hard against mine. His tongue scraping against my teeth. He picks me up, I wrap my legs around his waist as he walks back into my room. Throwing me onto the bed, he crawls over me.

Bends down and kisses my neck and whispers, “I miss you too.”

He kisses my lips, one hand holding himself up on the bed to my left and the other hand is on my hip bone. Slowly he runs his hand under my shirt and up my side to my right breast cupping it softly. I can’t help myself, I moan into his mouth and my body responds. I thrust my hips up to his. He pulls back and sits on his knees taking off his shirt and unbuttoning his jeans. Leaning back down to pull off my shirt and shorts. His naked chest against mine, it feels right. It feels like we haven’t been apart. It comes so easy, he slips himself into me with ease, I arch my back slightly moaning at the familiar feeling. Speed matching speed, it’s fast but slow enough for his small intimate kisses along my neckline. It my heart quickening, finger nails scratching his back and I hear his moan, low and deep vibrating through my body. He grabs my hips, lifts me up to him and thrusts harder and deeper. I’m moaning louder now, my body screaming and pulsing.

Just like that, it was over and he’s sitting on the edge of my bed slipping his jeans back on.

“This can’t keep happening Michelle.” He whispers.

I roll to my side and watch him finish dressing. The gold band on his left hand shining in the moonlight. Guilt hits me like a truck.

“I know.” It was all that I could say. I wanted to say more but what can I say? It hurts knowing that I let him go but it hurts more knowing that I should let go permantely.

“You’re the one that got away Shane.” I sigh. It’s the same words that I say every single time.

“You’re the one who let me leave.” It hits me hard, like it always does. Every single time, we have the same conversation and every time my heart breaks just that little more. I close my eyes for a moment. Just a moment to compose myself, to think of something else to say that would make us stop.

He was gone when I opened them, I hear the front door click shut in the darkness and I’m alone again.

“I’m sorry.” I say out loud. “I’m sorry that you are the one that I keep backsliding to.”

Marry Me? Part 3

Marry Me series

It’s been two weeks since the engagement party. I haven’t seen or spoken to Mel since I confessed how I really felt about Aly. I haven’t told anyone how I felt before, it’s just been so obvious that I didn’t need to. Well not obvious to Aly, either that or she’s ignoring the signs.  

The wedding is today and I’m not remotely ready. I’m sitting on the edge of my bed staring at the photograph in my hands. It’s a photo of myself and Aly, we’re both staring into each other’s eyes laughing. My arms wrapped around her waist and her arms around my neck. We’re on the beach, it was taken by Mel at our regular bbq’s that we’d have. This was the last bbq that Aly attended as a single woman, the one before they went to the festival where she met Kevin. It was also the one where I almost told her how I felt. 

“Come on Mitch!” Aly whines as she tries to pull me away from the table towards the beach.  

She wants me to go into the water with her but it is getting too cold for that. Summer is almost over and the autumn chill is sitting in the air causing me to reach for my brown leather jacket and shrug it on.  

“You’ll get sick besides the food is almost ready. Right Tom?” I turn to Tom and he nods.  

“Just gotta finish the sausages then we’re all ready to serve up. Why don’t you and Mel go and order the hot chips?” Tom asks and Mel nods.  

Aly pouts then pokes her tongue at me and she walks arm in arm with Mel towards the fish and chips shop across the road. 

“You know that was your chance.” Tom states, turning the sausages and having a sip of his beer. 

“Chance to do what?” I ask, getting up to stand next to him. 

“To run romantically into the water with her in your arms and kiss her.” He laughs out loud and I punch him. “Ow, I’m only just telling you what I see.” 

“It’s not like that Tom.” I say but even I don’t believe what I am saying. 

I have had a crush on this woman for as long as I can remember. I’m not surprised that other people are starting to see it to but I can’t admit it out loud because if I do that means admitting that I have no chance in hell with this beautiful human being. 

“What is it like then?” he asks as he places the sausages in the tray with the rest of the cooked meat.  

“We’re just friends. That’s all.” I grab a beer from the eski next to the table and open it.  

Tom nods, “okay then, you can lie to yourself if you like.”  

The girls come back to the table with the chips and we sit and eat. Mel and Aly talk about the festival that they will be going to on the weekend. They both express excitement over seeing their favourite band live for the first time. Mel squeals about how hot the lead singer is and both Tom and I roll our eyes.  

“Right, who’s cleaning up?” Tom asks. “Shot not me.” He quickly says, winking at Mel.  

Mel reaches across the table and softly slaps his arm. “You’re a tool love.” She says before starting to clear the plates. “Although you’re still helping me clean up.” 

Aly and I both laugh as we watch their retreating figures head towards the bins on the other side of the park. 

“Well, wanna go for a walk along the beach then?” Aly asks, the wind blowing her hair to one side.  

I nod. “Let’s go then.” 

We get up from the table and head towards the sand. We start walking along the shoreline, listening to the waves hit the shore, feeling the cold water run over our feet.  

“It really is a beautiful afternoon to be at the beach, even if it is cold.” She says, rubbing both hands along her arms to keep warm.  

I crease my eyebrows together and ask where her jumper is and she said she didn’t bring one. 

“Why the hell not? It’s beginning to get colder.” I say taking my jacket off and offering it to her.  

She smiles shyly as she takes the jacket from me and puts it on.  

“It smells like you.” She says as she breathes in.  

She snakes her arm around my waist and I pull her in close to me. Maybe I should take the chance that Tom was talking about it tell her how I feel. I stop walking and turn to look at her and I see her smiling.  

“What’s the smile for?” I ask smiling back. You can’t help but smile in her presence, she’s so infectious.  

“Oh nothing, just you.” She says as a gust of wind hits us and blows her hair into her face. “Ugh yuck.” I hear her say as she tries to flip her hair out of her face without removing her arms from my waist.  

I laugh. “Here.” My left hand on her hip while my right hand tucks the wandering strands of hair behind her ears and away from her face. She looks beautiful in this light, her blonde hair shining in the sunset. Her eyes gleaming flirtatiously. I slowly bend my face towards hers and just before our lips touch she places her hands on her chest and closes her eyes as she pushes back. 

“We should get back. It’s getting late.” She takes off, laughing as she’s running.  

Ignoring the pang of rejection in my chest, I run after her. 

A knock at the door knocks me from my memories.  

“You almost ready Mitch?” Mel asks as she opens the door. “You haven’t even got your suit on yet. What the fuck Mitch? We have to leave soon.” 

I shake my head. “I’m not going.” 

She slaps my arm and pushes me up off the bed. “Of course you are going. You are the woman’s best friend. It would look strange if you aren’t at her wedding. You’ve come this far. Don’t bow out just yet.” 

Sighing I take the shirt from her and begin to put it on.  

“Exactly, HER wedding. Not mine, not ours. Hers!” I say angrily. “Why should I be there? She isn’t stupid, she must know how I feel about her. If it’s so obvious to you and Tom and her family then why isn’t it obvious for her?”   

Mel’s face is a picture of sadness and concern. She wraps my tie around my neck and tucks it under the collar.  

“I don’t know Mitch. What I do know is that it’s her wedding and at the end of the day, you are her best friend. She wants you to be there so you should be there.” She finishes the tie and I shrug my jacket on.  

Sighing I run my hand through my hair as I sit back on the bed again.  

Tears fill my eyes. This is the one day that I have been dreading for the past three months and now that it’s here. I don’t want to face it.  

“I understand that she wants to get married but why can’t she marry me?”  

Marry Me? Part 2

Marry Me series, Uncategorized

“What took you so long?!” Aly growls, grabbing my shirt and dragging me inside the house before closing the door behind me.  

Checking my watch, I realise that I am half an hour later than I said that I would be. Cursing myself, I walk to the kitchen and place the cartons of beer and wine on the bench.  

“Morning Helen.” I say giving her a hug and kiss on the cheek. 

“Mitchel, so happy that you could join us.” She returns the hug and squeezes me tight. “She’s been driving us crazy all morning.” She whispers into my ear and we both laugh. 

“She wouldn’t be our Aly if she didn’t. Where’s the groom? I have something for him.” I hold up a bottle of his favourite scotch.  

Helen points upstairs. “He’s getting ready, the boys are up there with him. Would you like me to give him the bottle?” she asks, one eyebrow raised quizzically. 

I shake my head. “Nah, I’ll do it. Better get used to him being around now that they’re getting married.” I say softly.  

Helen knows how I feel, she’s always known but never once said anything about it to me or to Aly.  

She squeezes my hand, “I always thought this would be you and her. I’m sorry Mitch.” She whispers. 

My heart lurches but I ignore it. I nod sadly and walk through the doorway to the stairs. To be honest, I always thought that one day she would wake up and realise that we were both good for each other but that day didn’t happen and then she met Kevin. I remember that moment clear as day, it was the moment I knew that I wasn’t going to win her. 

“Mitchel!” I hear her yell and slam the door closed behind her.  

I’m sitting in the kitchen behind the lounge room, where she would be after walking through the front door. I continue eating my noodle bowl and flip the page of today’s paper.  

“Didn’t you hear me calling?” she asks, her figure sashaying in front of me. Hand on her hip, she tilts her head to the right side, her eyebrows raised slightly. 

Sighing, I abandon my food and close the paper shut. “The whole neighbourhood heard you.” I say trying not to smile. 

She slaps my arm, “stop being smart. Guess what?” she smiles and sits at the table in the chair next to mine. Dragging my noodle bowl towards herself.  

“Hey that’s mine.” I protest as she twirls noodles onto the fork and sticks it in her mouth.  

She smiles her cheeky grin and shrugs her shoulders. “Mine now honey. Guess. What?!” she emphasises the last two words as if I wasn’t hearing her in the first place.  

I get up off my chair and walk to the fridge for a bottle of water. I twist the top and take a sip before replying, “What?” 

She grins again and my heart sinks. I know that look. That’s the look she gets when she is about to tell me that she’s dating someone new. It’s been at least a year since she dated anyone and we started spending a lot more time together. I was convinced she was beginning to feel about me the way I feel about her.  

“I met someone at the festival that I went to with Mel and the girls a few weeks ago and he finally asked me to be his girlfriend!” she squeals.  

I guess I was reading the whole thing wrong again. I expect it to go the exact way it did with the previous men in her life. Over in a few months and she’ll be back to all eyes on me again.  

“That’s great to hear. What’s he like?” I ask, putting the water bottle back into the fridge and moving to sit back at the table. Grabbing my noodle bowl from her.  

She ignores it and proceeds to tell me about the new man in her life. “His name is Kevin, he’s a 25 year old banker at Westfield investment banking firm.” 

I zoned out after that. Don’t even remember her going home, I just remember going out to the pub up the street and drowning my sorrows.  

“Mitch!” Kevin’s voice snaps me from my trip down memory lane. I must’ve stopped walking halfway up the stairs because Kevin finds me sitting on a step. “What are you doing buddy? Come on up. We’re about to toast.” 

I nod and smile as I hop up and miss a few steps getting to the landing where Kevin is standing. He hugs me and pats me on the back.  

“Good to have you here. Thanks for coming, I know it means a lot to Aly so it means a lot to me. She cherishes you mate.” Kevin tells me. 

I hand him the bottle of scotch I bought for him on the way here. I bought myself a bottle for later as well.  

“Ah thanks Mitch. My favourite. Come in and meet the guys.”  

When we get into the room, Kevin introduces me to his groomsman. I recognise on of them. Its Aly’s brother, Louis. 

“Hey buddy, how you doing?” I ask giving Louis a hug. I haven’t seen him since he went interstate for university six months ago.  

Louis hugs me tight enough to cut air from my lungs. “I wasn’t sure you’d be here.” He whispers. 

“Of course I’ll be here. It’s Aly.” I whisper back before loudly replying, “Louis? Can’t. Breathe.”  

Louis lets go. “Oh, sorry Mitch. It’s good to see you.” 

I nod and look towards Kevin. He’s pouring a glass of scotch for everyone. He passes out a glass, one by one. I get the last one and he raises it.  

“It’s been a ride and I’m happy to have you all here to celebrate my engagement with Aly. I am a very lucky man.” Everyone clink their glasses with each other’s and takes a sip.  

I down mine in one gulp. 

“Mitch?” I hear someone whisper. I turn to the door to see Mel. She waves me to follow her. Placing the glass on a nearby table, I follow her. 

She leads me to another room at the other end of the house and closes the door behind her. The last time I was sitting across from her like this was a month ago when I found out about the engagement. I was that devastated that I couldn’t hide how I felt anymore. I went to the nearest bar and drank myself stupid. The bar tender ended up calling Brad to pick me up and Mel comes instead. 

“God Mitch, what are you doing here?” she asks as she picks my sorry ass up off the bar. 

“Melanie!” I yell and try to hug her but I trip instead. “Whoops.” I say laughing.  

“Shut up you fool and walk will you.” She said and we walk towards her car parked at the front.  

The bar tender opens the passenger side door and helps her put me in it and closes the door. 

“Thank you for calling Tom. I’ll get him home.” I hear her say. 

Within minutes, she’s walking me into my house and I fall onto the couch.  

“I’ll get you a class of water.” She walks to the kitchen. I hear her open and close a cupboard then the tap turns on and off. 

She comes back into the room, hands me the glass and two Panadol.  

“What the hell Mitch?” she sits on the coffee table in front of me. 

I shrug my shoulders. “What can I say? It’s been a pretty shit night for me.” I say before shoving the tablets in my mouth and taking a sip of my drink. 

Mel sighs and crosses her arms across her chest. “Aly got engaged.” 

It’s not a question but a statement. Aly must have told her today as well. She probably announced it all over her social media.  

I just look at her. A tear escapes my eye and falls down my cheek.  

“Oh Mitch.” She hops off the table and sits next to me and hugs me as I cry.  

I don’t remember the last time I cried. I didn’t cry when Kathy and I broke up, I didn’t even cry when my mum past away last year but here I am, crying because Aly got engaged. 

Loud music starts blaring downstairs and knocks me from my daydream. The party must be starting. 

“You doing alright?” Mel asks, folding her hands together in her lap. Her wedding and engagement rings shining in the sunlight shining in through the open window. 

I shrug. Am I alright? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn’t know how to start answering that question. 

“I bought Kevin his favourite bottle of scotch as a wedding present.” I say, staring out the window at the guests start walking across the backyard to the linoleum dancefloor that Aly’s mother bought for the occasion. Aly loves to dance on special occasions. 

“I bet he loved that.” Mel stated. “I didn’t ask about Kevin though. I asked about you.” 

I sigh and said the same thing that I said to her the night I spent crying on her shoulder just a month ago. 

“I love her Mel.”  

 

Stay tuned to see if Mitch confesses how he feels to Aly. 

When you’re ready

short stories

The room around us is bustling with the many conversations that surround us. We’re sitting in a booth in the far back of the restaurant that you could almost miss us. I mean, the waiter missed us twice. Walked straight past with our food.  

Looking at her now, I can see the heartbreak on her face that it breaks my heart. She has such a caring heart that it hurts to see this beautiful woman turned inside over a guy who doesn’t deserve her.  

“What is wrong with me?” she asks, her face falling into her hands.  

It wasn’t a question that she wanted answered, so I didn’t. I stayed silent. She didn’t need me to give her advice, she needed me to lean on. The way it has been for us since we were in high school.  

“What will my boss say?” She looks up at me, her mortified expression mirroring my own. 

I have missed part of this story; how did I miss parts of this story. 

Cringing, I ask, “what happened?” 

She closes her eyes for a second.  

I twirl some spaghetti onto my fork and put it in my mouth.  

“I had a work party last night. The ‘Christmas in July’ one that we have every year.” She begins her story of the night before.  

I take a sip of my drink and motion for her to continue as I ate another fork of spaghetti. 

“Kurt bitched and moaned about having to go with me. I wasn’t making him do anything, he came on his own accord but he still bitched about it all afternoon as I was getting ready to head out.” She pauses to sip on her own drink.  

“Anyway, so we pull up at my boss’s place and he refused to get out of the car. I tell him that he should go home and head out with the boys. That’s why he didn’t want to come, you know.” She shrugs her shoulders but I can tell it bothers her. That he would prefer to spend the night out with the guys instead of a night with her.  

“So,” she sticks a fork full of salad into her mouth. “I’m in with the rest of the party for about half an hour. Yep, he sat in that car for half an hour. He came in, pulled me aside and very loudly tells me that I need to move out because we’re breaking up.” 

She drops her fork on her plate and places her face in her hands again.  

“I’m so embarrassed.” She cries.  

This is torture. This woman, this beautiful woman doesn’t deserve to be treated like dirt. It’s not fair. She deserves better.  

I get up from the side of the booth that I’m sitting and slide in next to her. I wrap my arm around her shoulder and pull her into me. Her head resting on my chest, I can feel her body convulsing as she cries.  

I don’t know what to say to make her feel better. Anything that I would usually say always made her feel worse.  

“How about we go for a walk?” I say, rubbing my hand over her arm.  

She nods and we move out of the booth and follow the wooden floor towards the exit. 

When we get out onto the street, the ocean breeze hits us in the face. The smell of the salt water and the sound of the seagulls calms me. I’ve always loved the beachfront. Stella though, she hates the cold and at this time of day during the winter months, it gets freezing.  

She shrugs on her denim jacket and wraps her arm into mine.  

“It’s freezing.” She shudders, the breeze hitting my bare skin and I erupt in goosebumps. 

She’s right, it is freezing but I wasn’t going to admit that. She’d never let me live it down, especially since before we left the car to head into the restaurant, she reminded me to grab my jacket but I said I didn’t need it.  

We get to the end of the jetty and she releases her arm from mine before leaning on the white wooden fence.  

“What do you think I should do?” She asks, staring out at the ocean.  

What do I say to that? That she deserves better? That she needs to move out and never look back?  

Sighing, I take a step closer to her, wrapping my arm around her shoulders.  

She smiles and wraps her arm around my waist.  

It feels nice. At least it feels nice to me. Maybe I should tell her something that I probably shouldn’t.  

Staring out ocean. I take a deep breath and pull her closer to me.  

“You deserve to have someone who will treat you the way you should be treated. Who will tell you that you’re beautiful every day. Someone who has waited their whole life for you.” I bite my lip.  

Should I say it?  

Page Break 

“I know I do.” She agrees.  

“Stella, I know you like the back of my hand. I’m never not thinking about you. When you’re ready, I’m waiting.” I confess.  

My heart beats like a jackhammer, wondering what she’s going to say next.  

“Scott, I.. .” She starts to say but nervous me cuts her off. 

“It doesn’t have to be now, it could be ten years from now. I’ll wait, no matter what I will wait.” I say, facing her and taking both her hands in mine. 

“What I’m trying to say Stella, is when you are ready; I will be here.” 

Marry Me? Part 1

Marry Me series

A/N: This short story is a work of fiction. It is also a part of a series I’ve affectionately called the “Marry Me?” series. Part 1 is the lead up to the engagement party of Mitch’s best friend Aly. Read below for more on Mitch and Aly’s story.

 

The alarm echoes throughout my room. Groaning I roll over and smack it off. I’ve never been a morning person but for her, I’ll be whatever she wants me to be. It’s her big day, the one she’s been looking forward to since I have known her. Today is her engagement party. 

I didn’t want to go but she’s my best friend and she insisted that I be there. Don’t get me wrong, her fiancé is a sweet man and he looks after her but he’s not the man I envisioned for her. 

Yeah, I know, it sounds like I’m being an overprotective father. Overprotective, yes but father? No. This woman is important to me and I just want the best for her. 

Staring at the ceiling I remember the day we first met. It was the summer of 2010, I was at the beach with my mate, kicking the footy around and having a few goldies. It was a very lowkey Christmas party. We’d bring our girlfriends and make a day of it. Cook up a barbie, have a few drinks and play footy while the ladies lazed on their towels in the sun. This was the first year that I showed up single. Kathy, the girl I was seeing for the last five years had gone our separate ways. The story was that it was a mutual decision but, she dumped me for another guy. I was devastated because I was about to propose but seems like it was a bullet dodged besides, if we didn’t break up I would have met Emery. 

When I first saw her, she was talking to one of the lads girlfriend, Mel. Dressed in a red bikini top and short shorts, her brown her up in a messy up-do. She hung her head back and laughed at something Mel had said. For a few seconds, I was in awe. I have never seen a woman so happy with herself.  

One minute I was staring at her, the next minute I felt something hit me on the right side of my face and I fall backwards onto the sand. 

“Shit mate, you right?” I hear one of the lads ask. 

“Shouldn’t have been perving Jonas.” Another lad states. 

They help me up and I look over to Mel and the other woman. They’re staring. Mel is looking concerned while the other girl is laughing. Her eyes hidden by her sunglasses, strands of her hair float across her face in the wind. I’m not embarrassed to admit that this girl has be all kinds of intrigued. 

After the game, the boys and I fired up the barbie and began cooking the meat while the girls changed and went to the shops for bread and salads. Brad accidentally forgot to grab them when he bought the meat but after they left, he explained that it was on purpose. He wanted to give us a heads up that he was going to propose to Mel tonight in front of everyone. We all cheered and whooped. Brad and Mel have been together for years and it’s about time that he put a ring on her finger.  

After dinner, Brad got down on one knee and proposed like he said he would. She said yes almost instantly. We toasted to their success but all I could think about was the girl that I saw talking to Mel down at the beach.  

My phone ringing knocks me from my daydream. The screen reads Aly. My heart thumps in my chest. It’s her, why would she be calling me at 7am.  

“Hello?” I answer, clearing my throat. 

“You’re still in bed? What the fuck Mitch, it’s my engagement BBQ today. You should already be on your way here.” She sounds stressed out. I’ve never heard her this stressed before.  

“Al, calm down. Your thing isn’t until 12pm. I’ll bring over the supplies at 10am.” I say yawning even though the plan was for me to show up at 11:30 but if she’s this wound up, I will get there earlier. After all, she’s my best friend and it is her big day. 

In the shower, I let the hot water cascade over my body. One hand on the wall to steady myself, the other running through my hair. I knew today was going to be rough but I didn’t expect it to have me trotting down memory lane but I’m all the talk of engagement parties has me reminded of Brad and Mel’s engagement party. 

Mel planned this cocktail thing for the engagement party. I remember telling Brad that I hated having to buy a new suit for this event.  

“You’re sounding like a woman.” He said as we walk out of the store, suit in hand. “you can wear it again at the wedding, as my best man.” 

“You serious mate?” I ask, opening the door to the car and place the suit into the back seat. 

He nods and turns the engine on. “Of course, we’ve been mates since high school. You also introduced me and Mel so who else would be better?” 

I shrug my shoulders, clicking the seatbelt into place. “I thought you’d ask your brother.” 

We both laugh at the idea. Brad and his brother have been estranged ever since their parents died and gave 70% the inheritance to Brad instead of Mike. They haven’t spoken since and that was three years ago. 

“Besides, that girl you were gawking at the night I proposed will be Mel’s Maid of honour.” He said, turning the radio on with a touch of a button on his steering wheel. 

“I was not gawking.” I say, my voice cracking. Even my body knows I’m lying. “Okay, maybe I was but she was hot.” 

“Yeah so hot that you ended up on your ass with a ball in your face.” He laughs loudly.  

I shake my head. I have been the butt of every joke since that day. Who gets tossed in the face for staring at a girl is the favourite.  

“Yeah laugh it up. She going to be there tonight?” I ask. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since that night.  

Brad nods and pulls into the driveway of my place. “Now get out, get dressed. Mel and I will be back at 5 to pick you up.” 

I grab my suit from the backseat and head inside. 

I showered and combed and recombed my hair 5 times. I changed my tie 3 times and shoes twice. Only because I have exactly two pairs of dress shoes. Hand me downs from Brad would you believe. When the honk of the horn came 3 hours later, I was so nervous I thought I was going to sweat through my shirt. I should probably bring a jacket. Shit, I only have my black leather one. I grab it from the couch and shrug it on. I’m sure Mel won’t mind.  

We got to the club and I recognised her within minutes. She was wearing a pink dress that hugs every curve of her body. It’s short at the front and long at the back. Her brown hair braided to her left side. Hate to say it, she looks more beautiful now than she did when I first saw her.  

“Mel, do me a favour. Go and introduce mister cool here to Aly, before he drools all over his new suit.” Brad laughs and pats me on the back before walking towards the bar.  

Mel laughs. “Brad told me about your little crush. Don’t worry, I haven’t said anything to Aly but I warn you. She’s a sassy little thing.” Mel curls her hand around the crook of my elbow and leads me towards her.  

“Aly this is Mitch.” Aly turns to look at me. I try to swallow but my throat is dry.  

Aly turns her head to the side and sticks her tongue out a little. She’s sizing me up from what I can see then she laughs. I stare at her dumbfounded.  

“You’re the guy who fell on his ass at the beach.” She said laughing a little louder. “Honey you made my day.” 

I turn to say something to Mel but she was already gone. Turning back to Aly, her hand on her hip.  

“Well, you can buy me a drink then.” She links her arm in mine, the way that Mel had done before and leads me towards the bar. 

I knew then that I was officially in trouble. 

Stay tuned to see more of Mitch’s story.

Life’s too short for ‘what ifs’

short stories

“I don’t understand.” I say softly, staring at the picture on my phone. “I have known Aaron for eleven years and I never once saw him as more than a friend. Why now?”

Shay giggles. I snap my head in her direction. She’s grinning like a maniac. I narrow my eyes at her. Her hands fly up in defence.

“Hey calm your tits babe.” Shaking her head, she blows a bubble with her gum til it pops. I flinch.

“Alright look, we fall in love with the person we least expect, a person we may have dismissed before, a person we loved but didn’t understand that love and sometimes we don’t realise the depth of that love until it’s too late to confess how we truly feel.”

Sighing I look back at my phone, willing for it to light up with a message from him but it doesn’t. She’s right, of course she’s right but that doesn’t mean I understand it any better.

Shay clicks her fingers together in front of my face. “Hey I’m not finished.”

I look at her and laugh. “Go on then.”

Shay rubs her hands together excitedly, “sometimes we aren’t brave enough to love the person we love because we feel that they deserve better. In a way babe, hiding those real feelings could be seen as a selfless act but who are you really protecting? Yourself or the person that you’re currently claiming to love? Have you even told him how you felt?”

I shake my head. I can’t tell him, telling him could ruin our friendship and I wasn’t prepared to lose him. If I had to choose between our friendship and risking it to love him? I will always choose our friendship.

“He’s my best friend, we’re there for each other through thick and thin.” I finally say. “Through every happy times and through all the heartbreak.”

“Liz, you and Aaron have barely been able to keep a relationship with anyone since you first met. Have you noticed that?” she asks and again I shake my head.

I never noticed. I just always thought that the breakups were because of incompatibility. Thinking back now, most of my boyfriends were jealous of Aaron and vice versa. I furrow my brows.

“By hiding the love you feel for him, you’re only breaking your own heart and robbing yourself of happiness that may or may not last a lifetime.

I stare at her, confused. I tilt my head to the right. “I never said anything about love…”

Shay smiles again, girl you didn’t have to, it’s written all over your face.”

Shaking my head in disbelief, I stare at my phone again. He still hasn’t messaged me but I know better than to expect him to, at least I think I know better.

“Look, what I’m trying to say is, love is a risk worth taking, have the courage to take it with both hands. Take it from someone who knows.” She looks down at her engagement ring and smiles.

Her fiancé is my big brother, we all grew up together. Shay lived next door to us all our lives, one day she tells me that she had feelings for him and I encouraged her to run like the wind. She didn’t listen to me and good thing she didn’t because a year later he had gotten down on one knee and proposed to his own surprise birthday party. The family and I couldn’t have been happier with the woman he had finally chosen to spend the rest of his life with.

Shay grabs my hand and squeezes it tightly. I smile in return.

“Life’s too short for ‘what ifs’.”

I’m all in

short stories

You would think that I would be nervous but I’m not. Sitting here with her, I feel like I’m home.

She turns her head towards me, her smile emanating her joy. Her joyous smile is contagious; I can’t help but smile in return. I don’t for the life of me hear what she’s saying, she’s pointing out over the ocean. The sun rising in the distance, the pink and orange hues shine a halo around the world.

 

Wrapping my arm around her waist, I pull her in closer. You would think after all these years that I would be used to her gravitational pull. When we’re apart, I can’t help it but I am always able to find my way back to her.

 

She’s my always and looking at her now, he blonde her blowing in the wind as we sit on the beach watching the sunrise I find myself reaching for her hand and kiss it softly. Her soft lips part in a shy smile and she buries her head on my shoulder. Her touch still sparks a fire in my chest.

 

I realise that this moment is something I want to frame for the rest of my life. I want to hear her laughing through the good times and crying through the bad. I want to be the shoulder that she comes to after a stressful day at work. I want to tell her that I love her every day.

 

Putting my hand into the pocket of my jacket, I pull out my wallet.

 

“What are you doing?” She asks pointing towards the wallet in my hand.

 

I smile at her confusion and shrug my shoulders. She turns her attention back to the horizon which gives me a chance to get what I wanted out of the small zipped pocket in the back.

 

“We’ve probably sat here in this same spot watching the sunrise a million times over the last two years we’ve been together.”

 

She smiles and nods in agreement.

 

“We’ve been through some happy, sad and even some crazy times. Yes, I’m talking about that moment your uncle with dementia came at me with a knife during our first Christmas together when he thought that I had broken into the house.” We laugh at the memory. Ever since that day, I’ve been too afraid to walk into her uncle’s house without clinging to her.

 

“That was a good Christmas over all though, you have to admit that.” She said as she tucked her hair behind her ears.

 

I nod. “Yes I remember; it was the Christmas when you asked me what we were. Do you remember what I said?” I ask.

 

She nods. “You said, ‘if you want then I’m all in.’”

 

I smile and hold up the diamond ring in front of her. “I meant it then as much as I mean it now. I’m all in Jenny, after all the days we have spent together I’m still such a fool for you, crazy in love with you and I couldn’t list all the reasons why because there is a million and one of them. Marry me?”

 

There was silence and with every second ticking by I could feel my heart threatening to break.

 

She smiles and replies, “I’m all in.”

The surprise in the box

short stories

Staring at my watch, the bus is a few minutes late. Sighing I press play on the song and stare at the ground. It’s only the third week into the trimester and I feel like I’m already failing. I’m behind in all the readings and have begun contemplating dropping out of this trimester and trying again next year. It’d only be one class, what would the harm be right?

The bus pulls in and I smile. My best friend walks off and stands in front of me.

“So who is it that’s making you cry this time?” Her hands on her hips and her smile wide, bright and contagious.

“What makes you think it’s a someone and not a something?” I wink and give her a hug.

She shrugs her shoulders and hands me a box.

“What’s that?” My eyebrow flings up in confusion.

I take it from her. It doesn’t feel heavy. I try to open it and she slaps my hand away.

“Wait until you get home. It’s not safe for work if you know what I mean.” She winks at me and walks down the stairs.

I look at the box and laugh. I can only imagine what it is. I walk onto the bus, my eyes still on the box.

“Watch your step!” the driver says loudly.

Jumping, I drop the box onto the floor and the lid flies off . The contents of the box falls out. It’s the blue and green lingerie that I’ve been eyeing off for months. Shit! She wasn’t wrong about the ‘not safe for work’ business. The driver and I just stare at each other.

“I’m sorry!” I squeak and I’m down on my knees shoving the lingerie back into the box and walking fast towards the back of the bus without a second glance backwards.

I hear him laugh as he pulls away from the bus stop and drives off towards the roundabout.

Quickly getting out my phone I call my friend who answers on the second ring.

“Don’t tell me you are at home already?” she chimes loudly.

I laugh awkwardly and tell her what happened. There is a silence on her end for what feels like minutes but was only seconds. She starts laughing. Like a bellowing laugh that makes me imagine that she’s doubled over with tears streaming down her face.

“It’s not funny.” I say defensively. “He saw the bloody lingerie. What the hell are you doing buying me lingerie for?”

She doesn’t answer my question; she continues to laugh. The bus pulls into the first stop and I look up. The driver is looking in his mirror and me being so insecure thinks he’s staring at me still laughing at my humiliation.

“You bitched and moaned about how much you wanted this set so I got it for you. Besides it’ll come in handy for when you finally decide to break your vow of abstinence.” She thinks my vow is rubbish and constantly tells me how silly I am for even considering it.

Sighing I say my goodbyes and hang up the phone. The bus is a few minutes away from my stop and I can’t stop my heart beating fast from the adrenaline of the impending humiliation that I’ll feel once I walk past him.

Throwing my bag over my shoulder and hugging the box close to my chest I power walk towards the front of the bus intending on getting out as quick as possible. Just as I was stepping onto the footpath I hear someone speak.

“Good luck with your new lingerie miss.”

I turn to look at him before realising what I was doing and I start blushing bright red. He starts laughing as he pulls away from the station leaving me standing in complete shock that he had said that loud enough for the people close by to hear.

“Prick.” I whisper as I push the button to the elevator.

“Are you okay miss?” A quiet female voice ask me.

I nod. “I’ve just decided that I won’t be taking the University bus again for a while.”