Here’s three very short stories that I wrote that are too short to leave on their own. Drawings to follow…
I was walking to the train station to catch the 9:32 to Birmingham New Street. There was a woman heaped on the ground outside HSBC. She was crying. A gargoyle of a man hung over her and willed her to stand up.
– Come with me. It’s okay. He hooked his hands under her armpits.
She fidgeted him away.
– Just keep walking. Please. She had bad skin, an exerted frame and greasy hair.
– I’m not just leaving you here, he shook his cheeks, displacing his glasses.
– Just keep on walking. She grumbled between deep, tar-churning sobs.
– I want to help you.
– I don’t need your help.
I wanted to stop on the bench over the street and listen because there was so much I didn’t understand. The woman was drunk, that much I understood.
– Just come with me. The man tried to lift her again, but she managed to slap his hands away.
I wanted to understand what was going on, but I carried on walking like she said. I wanted to understand what was going on, but I didn’t want a Jeremy Kyle summary. I wanted to know their middle names.
On the train people spoke about mutual newsfeed events – mutual friends arguing on statuses and mutual nightclub photographs.
We Rounded a Corner
We rounded a corner and came to this sad building. Nothing about it would tell you it was a Maccies. The bricks were a dirty red colour and the three windows had soft wood falling away from the frame into the street.
She pushed the door open and walked inside. I followed. There was one guy behind the counter, which was also rotting away.
“I’m gonna’ go for a piss,” she said. “Get me a chicken-nugget-happy-meal would you?” It rolled off her tongue like her date of birth. She was still wearing her work uniform, which clashed with her bright red hair. I walked up to the counter.
“Alright mate, could I get a sausage sandwich, onion rings and gravy, and a chick-”
The guy turns around and starts making our food. The Ronald McDonald charity collection box was empty. I felt bad for the children away from their parents.
But McDonalds doesn’t do sausages? They do those burger sausages in the morning, but what time was it? I looked for the time but it was obscured. They don’t do nuggets at the same time as sausages do they? Was this a dream?
“We aren’t doing sausages at this time.” The guy was faced away, looking down into a fryer.
I was in a dream. I couldn’t remember what he looked like.
I couldn’t even remember what she looked like. I couldn’t remember her name or the softness of her cheek between my teeth. I could only remember her bright red hair and how she reeled off her McDonalds order like it was her date of birth.
I was planning on telling her tonight. I’ve never really been one for going out much. She liked it. She was a bit of a party animal before we got married. I would take her out to her favorite old haunts and she would retell stories about seeing Everton football players in the VIP area, and the time she nearly spoke to one at the bar. That’s what we did tonight.
It always made me wonder about what might have happened if she did talk to him. What if she met someone her own age with more money than me? Would she be happy?
– There, she pointed at the corner of the bar next to the VIP area. – He was right there. She stared, reliving the moment when her soft pink lips dared to say hello. It was as if she was witnessing the ghost of a long dead relative or loved one. – He ordered three bottles of Peroni and a gin and tonic. I didn’t think footballers really drank before that.
– What about Georgie Best?
– Who does he play for?
– Never mind.
– No, wait, Georgie Best is Callum Best’s brother isn’t he? You know, the guy off love island?
– Oh, she pushed the ice around her glass with a black plastic mixer. – So he’s old then?
That normally would have made me cringe, but tonight I had fully accepted my age and mortality.
– He would be old, but he’s dead.
– Older than you?
– Just a bit.
We had gotten ourselves into another pointless conversation that filled the silence across the table. I wouldn’t normally have minded, but I had something important to talk about for once.
– I just can’t believe I didn’t talk to him. He looked at me as well. Imagine that! Me with a premiership footballer! Her eyes kept darting between me and the space at the bar. – Awww. She looked at me like a dieing puppy and placed her warm, full hands over my cold ones. – Don’t worry babes, it was way before I ever met you.
Part of me didn’t want to tell her. Part of me just wanted to take her home and pop a viagra. That wouldn’t be fair to her though.
– I’ll get us some more drinks. She stood up.
I got out my wallet and gave her a twenty.