Friday Flash Fiction: Because

Ok. I’m angry. Really Angry. I wrote the blog and story that follows on Friday, I posted it, I saw it live. I come home tonight from a great night out with friends to discover not only do I have no traffic from it but the damn thing is no longer up.

Now I know I posted. I know because it appeared. Albeit briefly in my facebook feed. This is the second time in as many weeks things have gone awry on here. If there’s another I’ll have to move, I simply can’t have things not going live when I post them.

So on the off chance anyone will actually read this now it’s late, here it is:

My short story “The House” will be appearing in Aphelion online from the 2nd December, also appearing in the same issue will be a story by fellow Friday Flash Fictioneer Gareth Powell.

And so this week is a linked Friday Flash – not part of the story you understand but linked. To find out how go to Aphelion sometime in December. Enjoy:

Because
By Neil Beynon

I’ve never liked attics.

They’ve always been strange dusty places, an afterthought of space, tacked onto the top of houses. Like someone built the house and realised they had a bit left over.

You can convert them: lay floors, construct false walls, even place windows into the roof but they’re still not rooms. They’re attic rooms and loft rooms. You cannot escape their oddness: the walls at crazy diagonals, the lobotomized ceiling. Space just not intended to be used.

There’s a reason they put mad women there.

One of my memories from when I was young is of an attic door that wouldn’t quite sit right in its joint. It gave the perpetual sense of being slightly raised by some thing, some thing that wanted to remain hidden.

Dad always said my sub-conscious made it up. A way of explaining things.

Of course Mary wants one. A garden too. A nice little slice of suburbia to call our own. We can’t afford much. We’d have to move to a slightly rougher area.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky,” Mary said. “Maybe something Victorian, maybe something we can restore. Maybe we’ll find some original features.”

Original features. I nearly choked.

I’ve never really understood the obsession with the old. I mean there’s a reason why people don’t build things that way anymore. They become obsolete for a reason. Cost, efficiency, ugliness, whatever. It’s evolution. Adapt or die.

Sooner or later it all comes back to this: if you keep looking over your shoulder eventually you’ll walk into a wall. If you’re lucky all you get is a bloody nose.

Mary didn’t understand when I said no. You understand don’t you? I can’t go back to somewhere like that.

I can hear her you see.

I wish you had known her more. I wish I had known her more. She was so pretty with long dark hair that fell past her shoulders in loose waves, ice blue eyes and a warm smile. They don’t make the perfume she wore anymore but occasionally I’ll walk past a woman who’s stockpiled some. I’ll turn expecting to see her.

She’s never there.

My last few memories of her are all mixed up with what I know now but I remember how she helped me. Helped us.

When I close my eyes, I can feel her hand in my hair. When I look in the mirror I can see her hovering over my shoulder. When I walk in the woods the rhythm of her footfall is behind me. And, I’d like to believe she’s at peace. I’d like to believe in a better place. I really would.

I don’t believe though. Not in that – you see when I hear her she isn’t speaking.

She’s screaming.

And so I really don’t have a choice, I can’t go back but I can go on. I do remember how. I know I said I didn’t but I do. You keep it and you keep it safe. If I fail then it’s down to you. Nothing is more important.

We can set her free.

I have a Glock 9mm; it’s glossy, obsidian black that I can see my face in the barrel. I’ve made changes to the bullets. You’ll know what to do if they don’t work. I’ve made arrangements.

Mary didn’t understand about the Glock either. She’s gone now. I don’t expect she’ll be back and maybe it’s for the best. She wouldn’t have understood even if I’d explained.

I still can’t believe it’s up for sale once more. It’s in a different street but it’s definitely the same one, right down to the scuffed door and the broken chess board tiles on the path.

Mary brought it home with the paper. The advert carried a picture: a small faded black and white image. An attic like addition, an afterthought to draw people in. I wonder if that’s how it happened before. I wonder if it’ll happen again.

My hand is shaking as I write this.

I’m scared. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m so terrified my throat is as dry as a bone, and my stomach can’t keep anything down. But I have to silence the screams.

Not because she once did it for me. Not because I owe her. Not because we owe her.

Because I’m her son. Because that’s enough. It always was.

******************

Did you like this? If so you can check out the rest of my Friday Flash entries for free here: http://neilbeynon.wordpress.com/friday-flash-fiction/

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