The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Short Stories
Jesus Christ why did I...?
Because I wanted to, thats why. I invited her to live with
me. Two days after we met I handed her a set of keys and asked
her to move in with me. There is no one else to blame here.
I turn and look at her, wondering whether or not I should stroke
her, then ease myself out of bed, go into the living room and
light a cigarette.
F r e d e r i c o - C a s t e l l o n
Claire accused me
of abusing her. Me. Because we havent had sex for a while she
seems to think -
I feel guilty but so what? Its not like shes going to find
out. Anyway. In a minute Ill have a shower and clean it off. Then
go out. I need to get out of here. Im going crazy just sitting
Claire doesnt understand. She thinks one day well click
back into place. But theres no way thats going to happen.
Im amazed I havent killed her.
Her mums the same. That time I met her when she threw a glass
of wine against the wall - thats another reason.
I want to feel the way I did in my twenties. I craved life back then.
Even the bad times were good. Whereas now I cant remember the
last time I enjoyed myself.
Actually enjoyments the wrong word. I have enjoyed myself with
Claire. Its just that the bad times are too painful now. They
rip into me and the wounds never heal.
She hands me the cigarettes and lighter. I pay her and vacate the shop,
aware that I have behaved oddly.
More students. I disliked students even when I was a student. It isnt
the studying that reviles me. Its what goes with it. There isnt
anything more stultifying than listening to people banging on about
Im heading down the hill. Im picking up speed now. The idea
that I need a drink has hit me and I dont care if
Like the man in the suit. These people walk around with their eyes shut.
They get up in the morning, go to work, have a beer, no, a coke at lunchtime
and they think theyre in the fast lane. I see them all the time.
I know these people. Theyre the kind of people who wake up in
the night crying. Why? Because nothing passionate happens to them. Theyre
dead inside and they know it.
Ive done things with my life. Ive taken risks. I havent
sat back and watched it happen. Even now. Even now Im doing something
important. I know I am.
I should go back.
Ive bumped into my brother. Im enjoying myself.
He keeps banging on about it, wanting to know why I hit him.
Finally I crack.
I was whacked out my head, I tell him. The last thing I remember is
sitting in the tent, listening to dad and that bitch of a sister of
ours instructing me to leave.
My life was insane back then, I tell him.
That's why I hit you, I tell him.
Claire looked beautiful. The only black face and she didnt care.
And she behaved herself. She didnt shout at me. She didnt
hit me. She didnt cry. She didnt demand sex from me. She
didnt demand anything from me.
My brother leaves. Hes tired of my problems and wants his brother
back. I know that. He doesnt have to say that.
Im in a forest, talking to a man called Henry. Henry has lived
in this forest for twenty years and insists he will die here. He lives
in a cottage away to our right and has everything he needs. I am the
first person he has spoken to for months and it shows. I cannot get
a word in.
I sip my drink and laugh. I like this. One day I will write this down,
word for word.
The reason I came to this forest is uncertain. I remember wanting to
get away from the group of people I was with. I had spent several days
in a guesthouse with a group of people I barely new, discussing alternative
belief systems, when I realised that I was wasting my time.
I drain my pint and look around the room, shaking my head, wondering
what is the matter with me. Why cant I -
I feel my leg giving way and grab hold of Henrys arm. Finally,
Henry stops talking. He asks if I would like to rest in his cottage.
I nod and he puts his arm around my shoulder and walks me to his cottage.
Its difficult to say how long I stayed in Henrys cottage.
Sometimes it feels like months and other times a matter of hours. All
I know for certain is that after I left I was not the same person. Henry
changed me. I get to my feet and put my coat on.
Before I met Henry I believed life was futile. Dont get me wrong.
I enjoyed my life, or moments of my life. What Im talking about
here is life in general. I just didnt see any point to it. Whenever
I stopped to think about it, I mean really think about it, life seemed
like a cruel joke. Cruel in the sense that I did not get the punch line.
After I met Henry I not only got the punch line, I laughed until I split
Im home now. I close the door and start climbing the stairs.
Henry was no guru, though. No words of wisdom passed his lips. He wasnt
a philosopher or a thinker or anything like that. He didnt sit
me down and educate me. If he had I would never have stayed there.
I sit down on the bed and stare at her. I want to wake her and explain
how I feel. But I've been here before. She knows how I feel. Theres
nothing I can say that I havent said already.
After I left Henry I was a changed man. And one of the main drawbacks
when you change your character is that not everyone is happy with you.
She opens her eyes and stares at me.
It is like you are holding a mirror up to them and they do not like
what they see. Secretly they want to change but they know that they
can never change. I think this is because, as the years roll by, people
cling to what is familiar, even if is destructive, even if, deep down,
it is the last thing they want.
© Alan Stokes March 2005
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