Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I might not post a flash every week but this is a story I wanted to tell for a long time already.
I used a picture prompt:
My life, as it was, ended on July 30th, 2012.
Shane, who'd been the center of my life, died on that day. Bile rose in my throat at the image this thought conjured. I brought my hands up to my face, unsurprised at finding wetness on my cheeks. Four months had passed, but not a single day passed without me crying.
After wiping my face dry with the sleeve of my sweatshirt, I rolled my shoulders, wishing to lessen the ever-persistent tension. I heard, as much as felt, a crack but it brought no relief. My legsfelt stiff and tired.
I glanced at my watch and blinked. Another hour lost staring out of the huge window in our living room, where we'd stood so many times, laughing and joking or watching the wild baby rabbits zig-zagging across our backyard.
I'd lost my laugh. And while the rabbits might still be there, I didn't notice them anymore.
I forced myself toward the sofa, grabbed the multi-colored throw—one of Shane's projects—and curled up in a corner, wrapping the soft wool tightly around me. At times, the throw smelled like him. It was the only item that still carried his scent and, for this reason alone, it was invaluable.
Dusk crept on, creating shadows and pushing my lifeless home into darkness, which suited me just fine. Life had become a bitter and forlorn place. Even though no one would call what I was doing living. I... existed. Why, I had no idea.
Shane, my fun-loving, always optimistic and lively other half would flip if he could see me dragging myself from one day to the next, without perspective, without the will to live. Alas, I was alone without him.
I closed my eyes to thwart the tears from flowing. The lump in my throat grew bigger, though, and all my coughing didn't do me any good. In the end, I took the easy way out and allowed my grief to pour out of me.
When my tears ebbed away, I drew in a shuddering breath and patted around for the package of tissues on the coffee table. Nowadays, I always bought a family pack whenever I went shopping. Sometimes I went out just for those.
Right now, I couldn't find a single one, even though I knew there had to be at least two packages close by. I futilely groped and, when that didn't help, I struggled out of my cozy blanket, blindly continuing the search.
Dusk had turned into night and the living room was dipped in blackness. I shivered. As I groped around, I encountered a leftover candle stump and matches. Shane had used it the night before his death, as he said, “Gil, I don't care that you're melting. A romantic dinner isn't a romantic dinner without a candle.”
I gave up on arguing with him once he'd put his hands on his slim hips and smiled his special smile, the one that was reserved only for me. I'd never been able to resist that particular smile and it had been no different then.
I closed my trembling hand around the candle stump, righted it in the holder and struck a match. It crackled to life and the sudden, intense light blinded me for a moment. I managed to light the candle without burning my fingers, then watched as the flame flickered and danced.
Soon the liquid wax spilled over the edge and I observed the stump grow smaller and smaller. It, too, would vanish, simply cease to exist, in the same way Shane's life had been terminated. I swallowed and coughed and the flame jittered. More red wax flew over the candle's brim; they resembled bloody streams.
I jumped up with a gasp, knocked against the coffee table. The candle was extinguished. A sob tore from my throat and I knew, I knew this was it. Something had to give—right here and now—because I couldn't cope with what was left of myself anymore.
Everyone had said to give it time, that it would hurt less in time. Liars. All of them, liars. Every day it hurt more, every day brought me nearer to the edge of total hopelessness.
My breath came in strained puffs and I shivered. Before I had the chance to come to a decision on what to do next, I became aware of a weird, scratching sound.
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