A small, secluded space on the internet where I can post my short stories. If, by some miracle, you have found yourself on this page, well done! It can’t have been easy to get here.
So sit back, relax and enjoy a few uneventful stories.
I sat there, silently, with my head in my hands. Why, on a night as important as this, did I just sit there, with my head in my hands? Was I waiting for something, for someone to come along and stop all this? Was I really that pathetic? Hank was slumped across from me, his head arched over the back of the chair, his stubble visible all the way down his neck. He was older than me, quieter too. For much of the night he’d sat there, either staring out of the window or looking at the floor, deliberately avoiding eye contact. He did it with such strain that I wondered why he’d even come at all. I mean we’re all here for a good time weren’t we? He was wearing one of those cheap middle management suits crumpled and creased from days of constant work, his tie already loosened around his neck. It looked as tired as he was. I don’t know why he was here; I really wished I’d asked now. The room groaned as the air got colder. Ali was at the far end of the room, his chair illuminated by the television. He hadn’t spoken much, joining the likes of Hank for most enjoyable guest of the evening. For most of the night, he sat there watching T.V., occasionally getting up to relieve himself or get a snack, his heavy-handed grabbing leaving a mess and the odd hair in the snack bowl I’d left out. It wasn’t like they were rude or anything, they just had other things on their mind. Across the way towards the kitchen sat Lisa, her eyes sealed shut. I liked her; unlike Hank and Ali, she was a talker, someone who wouldn’t let the business of tonight ruin her mood. She spoke for hours about various topics that I only half tuned in for, and silly questions she didn’t know the answer to, like why cats and dogs hate each other, and the meaning of Pi. As banal as her conversation was I still found her sweet, approachable, someone who didn’t really deserve to be here. She wasn’t like me, Hank or Ali, stoically waiting for morning. For her, it seemed morning would never come. I wish I’d been braver, brave enough to write a happy ending here. I learnt a lot about Lisa, she had three brothers and a sister, was a Sagittarius who adored hedgehogs, and had never seen Star Wars. Not even the prequels.
I remember a story Lisa told me, mixed in with the memories of her last night, about a time when she and her sister were playing in the woods by her old house. The way she described it to me was beautiful, the arching of the branches as they twisted around each other, the solitude that hung in the air, the coldness of the dirt beneath. One day, as her and her sister played in the woods, they came across a dead rabbit, its body mangled by the trap it had been caught in, its foot still twitching. The image sat in my mind, like a haunting memory that doesn’t belong to me. As Lisa and her sister removed the trap, gently prying the rabbit’s feet from the metal, and she swore to me this was true, the woods began to groan, slowly at first, like a rumbling baritone, permeating the trees. Then higher, louder, steadily rising, gaining pitch, and range, and tone and bass. Reaching higher and higher, the woods sang. What had started out as a dull moan had turned into a song by Mother Nature, an echo of a land that once had such a beautiful voice.
“The world will sing you out too you know!” she said, her eyes full and magnificent. She had hunched herself over her chair and was directly staring at me. “The world will sing you to sleep”. Once she had said that she settled back into her chair and took her position, the very same position she sits in now. She seemed so content with those words that I didn’t have the heart to tell her she’d stolen those lines from Doctor Who. Well, who am I to ruin someone’s happiness?
The air felt thicker, icier, each breath chilling me. Who knew breathing could be so hard? I used to think I wasn’t good for anything, really useless, like the world already had everything it needed, and I was just here to watch it. I’d sit on the bus or the train and watch the countless people pass through, each one more self-involved than the next, none realising how pointless their existence truly was in the grand scheme of things. One person would get off and another would get on, each person so important that they absolutely had to do whatever it was that they were doing because, well who else would do it? The answer is anyone else. Anyone could do the job they thought made them so important, I could be a banker if I wanted to, I could be a lawyer if I tried hard enough, I could even have been a doctor given the right circumstances. But I didn’t become a banker, a lawyer or even a doctor, I didn’t become anything. I guess that’s why tonight was so important to me; it was me finally being free of my baggage, shaking off the old, escaping the Matrix. We all met online, through various chat rooms and Facebook groups that dealt with this sort of thing. An offline party, that’s what they called it, a gaming term for something but I’m not sure. It was a party last night, of sorts, Hank and Ali and Lisa and me all together talking about our lives, sharing stories and trading tales, talking things out all through the night until the early hours of the morning. Except it wasn’t like that. I don’t know what I had hoped for, or imagined would happen, that by talking things out with people you’ve only just met that you’d somehow find peace, an answer to whatever question or feeling had been forcing you down this road. I guess people are more introverted when they’ve got something to do, the living or the dead.
I wish things had been different, that we’d all met in some alternate reality where none of us hated life. But then again if none of us hated life would we even meet at all? That is the only reason we’re here, the only reason we gathered. Hank pulled the gun from his pocket early in the night, like an executioner taking to the gallows. He placed it delicately in the middle of the room and then slowly backed away, his eyes still focused on the floor in front of him. It was good of him to get it out of the way earlier; we didn’t want to have any pretence about being here. I vaguely remember Ali, eyes wide, stepping forward first. That’s right I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to him, did I? He was the first one. He picked it up, the weight heavy in his hand, walked over to the chair he was sitting in now, and that was it. I respect Hank a lot for that, allowing whoever wanted to do themselves in the choice of when. He was the second. An hour after Ali sat down Hank stood up, his suit barely straightening. The walk between the two lasted an eternity, the gunshot was over in an instant. Why didn’t I say something, stop us from doing this?
I can’t really breathe anymore; it’s gotten too cold in here for that. My feet are slowly numbing, first the toes, I can’t even tell if I’m wiggling them, it’s becoming too hard to tell. Sensations are mixing, everything is mixing together, the coldness of the gun feels no different from my hand. I feel like I’ve been awake far too long, like I’ve been travelling or something. It’s becoming harder and harder to move, my fingers have stopped responding. I think I just dropped the gun, my hands can’t tell. Everyone in this room looks tired, drained by the world. Ali, Hank, Lisa, you all look so tired today, you should get some rest, don’t worry I’ll make sure everything is alright when you wake up. Let me just rest for a quick second. I’ll just rest my head on my hands, just for a moment.
The room is cold and dark this morning