Tag Archives: stand alone

Way out in the water

Title from The Pixies song Where is my mind, betad by ecosopher.

Emma still didn’t know how this had happened. She had OCD, ADHD and anxiety problems, she was not dependable and practically unemployed. She was never on time and sometimes she said things without even thinking. She had been described as cute more times than she could count, but never hot or sexy, and she had ugly ankles.

So it wasn’t strange if more than once she had wanted to turn to this man lying next to her and ask ‘are you sure? Me?’ and when he’d say ‘of course,’ she’d have to ask ‘but why?’

That would sound as if she were fishing for compliments, but sometimes, like in the middle of the night, she was just genuinely curious.

He’d told her once, when they had first started going out, the things he liked about her; the way she saw the world and her excitement at the things she loved. He’d mentioned her brilliance, but it hadn’t seemed like enough. These things about her were good but they weren’t great, certainly not enough to have someone drop everything to come see her, to come live with her, to move to a new city just to be with her.

But that’s exactly what he’d done.

Suddenly she felt like she couldn’t breathe. She slipped out of bed and padded to the kitchen for a glass of water. She drank it slowly, the rhythm helping her calm down somewhat. She then washed her cup, and went back to bed.

She was about to close her eyes when his opened. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” she replied, “sorry for waking you.”

He shook his head and burrowed deeper into the covers. “It was your lack that woke me; you were gone.”

“I was just thinking,” she said.

“You think too much,” he said, and put an arm around her, pulling her close, and closing his eyes.

“I know,” she whispered.

She didn’t really understand why he’d done the things he did, or why he’d chosen her, but she wasn’t about to question a good thing, in case he started to wonder too. She was going to enjoy this for as long as she could-

“You think too loud,” he said, interrupting her thoughts without opening his eyes.

She smiled. “Sorry,” she whispered, and went to sleep.

The opposite of a love story

Based on true events

5 years old

“I don’t want to eat it!”

“Just taste it, it’s chocolate, you like chocolate don’t you? It’ll be over in five minutes.”

I feel my throat closing up. This didn’t taste like chocolate and it felt weird in my mouth. I looked up at my mama and knew there was no getting out of it.


10 years old

I look at the bright cover, the promising words; I could almost taste the honey glaze, the crunchy nuttiness, standing right there in the breakfast isle.

“You can buy it if you want.”

I look up at my dad, my eyes bright with hope. “Really?”

“Sure, change is good, every once in a while.”

I feel my heart lifting as I pick the box off the shelf and put it in the shopping cart. This could be it, the thing I’ve been waiting for!


15 years old

“What’s that you’re eating?”

“Muesli,” I mumble.

“It looks like someone already ate it and threw it up again in your dish,” my brother says, making a face.

I feel my stomach turn. The thought I keep suppressing now voiced was impossible to deny. I don’t say anything, I force myself to finish my bowl and get up to get dressed.

The next day I announce I don’t want to eat cereal for breakfast anymore.


18 years old


“I’m telling you,” I say, “I haven’t had cereal in 3 years.”

“But why?”

“Eugh, I hate it, it gets all mushy and soft, it’s so gross,” I say, “I ate it every day for 10 years, never again.”

“But this one is so good, we used to eat it all the time as kids!”

I look at the curved shapes on the box, empty promises and false hope.

“I dunno…”

“Trust me,” she says, and pours the cereal into a bowl and covers it with milk, then pushes it towards me, then pours out a new one for herself.

It takes me an hour to finish the bowl. She times it.


Present day

I walk down the breakfast isle, words jumping out at me, ‘tasty’ and ‘light’ and ‘fruitful’. I ignore them all as I head towards the spreads.

Peanut butter and Nutella, that’s the stuff for me.

Not for all the love in the world

Title from The Thrills’ song by the same name.

“It’s stupid,” she said, “this idea, this whole thing.”

“I have to do this,” he said, “it’s my dream.”

“You’re gonna get yourself killed.”

“I’ve wanted to do this my whole life,” he said, “you knew this when we first met, it’s been years, you didn’t think I just gave up on it did you?”

“And what if I had?” she said, her voice starting to break, “I foolishly thought that since we’ve settled down, bought a house- we have kids! You’re just going to leave?”

“It’s a once in a life time opportunity,” he said.

“Stop, just stop with the one liners,” she yelled.

“What do you want me to say?”


When they first met she had been so in love. She fell in love with his passion, he was a dreamer and she wanted to be part of that. She wanted to take his passion and wrap it around herself like a scarf that will keep her warm at night.

She thought if he would just turn that passion to her, her life would be perfect. Looking back she could tell how that had been stupid and selfish.

She ignored her friends’ worried faces and creased brows and she married him. His passion died down, he became more subdued and they settled down. He’d talk about boats occasionally, or maybe mention someone finding a lost artefact, but she didn’t think much of it. He had chosen her, after all.

She ignored the faraway look he got in his eyes when he talked about such things. Maybe it was just nostalgia for a life he never had, but then he’d blink and it’d be gone, and everything would go back to normal.


He picked up his bag and walked towards the door.

“If you leave-“

“This was never going to work out,” he told her, “we’re too different.”

“I thought you changed,” she said quietly, “all those years-”

“I thought I did too,” he said, “I wanted to change, for you, so badly, but-”

She nodded. “Once in a life time opportunity,” she said, resigned, “you’re a dreamer.”

“And you’re a realist,” he told her. It wasn’t an insult, he was just stating fact.

“When you come back,” she said, “I won’t be here.”

He couldn’t say he was really surprised. He nodded instead, picked up his bag again and walked out.

Cinderella, she seems so easy

Title from Desolation Row by Bob Dylan

Chloe unlocked the door to their apartment and walked in. She was tempted to close her eyes as she did so. She and Dylan had had a fight and she had a feeling she knew what to expect.

It’s been a whole day. A whole twenty-four hours where Dylan could have done anything. He did not try to call her, and he did not try to apologise, but she was here anyway. No doubt they had both known the moment she had walked out. Maybe even before then.

The small apartment was a mess. She doesn’t even know where half this stuff comes from, how so many things could accumulate from just two people. She picked up a purple garment which turned out to be her favourite dress and half heartedly dusted it off before tossing it on the nearest chair so it wouldn’t wrinkle.

She’ll have to put a load of laundry in tomorrow, she thought as she made her way to the bedroom, and probably vacuum too.

The door was slightly ajar but the room was dark. She gently pushed the door open to find Dylan sprawled naked on the bed, one hand on his stomach and the other loosely wrapped around a bottle of vodka. She could smell the alcohol from here.

She quietly approached until she was close enough to take the mostly empty bottle from him and walked out again, closing the door soundly behind her. He’ll sleep till noon tomorrow and then wake up and act like nothing had happened. She’ll follow suit and life will go on.

She threw the bottle in the recycling bin they had, ignoring the sound it made as it joined others like it and went back to the living room. She pulled out an extra blanket and pillow from the hallway closet, and then cleared one of the couches, tossing everything onto the floor.

She curled up on it, pulling her knees up and resting her head on her hands. She’ll wake up sore tomorrow no matter how she slept, but at least this way she could ignore her surroundings and keep warm till she was asleep.

She knew one or both of them needed help, but at this point she felt like nothing could be helped. They’ll fight when he’s sober, he’ll drink when she leaves, and no matter what, she will always come back.

Make a whole

Warnings: a line that could be taken as past dub con

Elise allowed herself one break down a year. It’s been that way ever since she could remember. Her mother said it was because she allowed herself to fall in love so easily, but Elise couldn’t help it.

Every time it was over she would pick herself up, put the pieces back together and move on, but there was always collateral damage. Something would always roll under the closet or behind the couch, never to be seen again.

She made the mistake of letting this happen in front of her now ex-boyfriend and he took a piece before she could collect them all. She’d walked away before she realised it was a piece of her heart and now it was too late.

He’d buried the piece deep inside his heart, irretrievable. Sometimes he’d poke at it and she could feel the ache, but she was never going back.

She was twenty nine now, and had lost more pieces than she could count. There was a crumbling hole in her side from the time she went shopping and nothing looked good. There was a small hole just above her left ear from the time she fell apart at university, and a hole the size of a quarter in her shoulder blade when her first boyfriend had pushed her past the point she was comfortable. And there was that piece of her heart.

Her heart, which had been shattered and put back together so many times it didn’t even look like a heart anymore. Sometimes she wondered how anyone would want something so ugly and misshapen.

“I’m not whole,” she told Jake when he first asked her out.

He smiled. “I don’t mind, neither am I.”

She looked closer and saw how the outside of his right hand was gone, how there was a chunk of his knee missing.

“Someone else stole a piece of my heart,” she tried.


“I don’t want him to have it, but I can’t get it back anymore, it’s only a small piece anyway.”

“Okay,” Jake said, “how about I give you a piece of mine instead?”

“Oh, I’ve never had a piece of anyone’s heart before.”

“I know you’ll keep it safe.”

She knew it was reckless of him to do it; she couldn’t even keep her own heart whole, how can she be trusted with someone else’s?

Then he took out his heart and she saw it was just like hers, broken apart and put back together so many times. He had even more pieces missing than she did.

“I dropped it a few times,” he admitted, “and I tried to fill the gaps with things, but that only made it worse.”

“It’s beautiful,” she said, “I can’t take a piece of it.”

“But-“ he started, “what do we do? We have two incomplete hearts between us.”

“We keep our hearts,” she said, “and we go out for dinner.”

It wasn’t until another year that the idea came to her. The hole in her side was slowly filling in again, and Jake’s hand was slowly getting stronger to compensate for the missing piece.

“What if we combine our hearts,” she said, “to make one whole.”

He looked up at her, his eyes hazy from sleep. “How?”

“Some of mine, and some of yours,” she said, “we can share it.”

“There’d be no going back,” he said.

“I know,” she replied, and felt her heart stutter, a moment of doubt.

“Okay,” he said, “let’s do it.”

She felt her heart settle. Nothing has ever felt more right.

In Another Castle

This was DJ’s last place to visit. Unfortunately it was right in the middle of the water, and very very high. He eyed the small wooden boat further along the beach and sighed. He needed to meet the target if he was going to get paid, and he was so close.

As he pushed the boat into the water and jumped in, he consoled himself with his plans for tonight, which consisted of alcohol, and stew and that book he can’t wait to start.

He was close enough to see that the castle was carved straight from the rock itself, and right at the base, right above the tide-line was a hole shaped like a doorway, and a ladder leading straight down into the water.

Just as he directed the little boat towards it, there was a whistling sound and a snick as something hit the water. A long moment later a small arrow floated up. He tried not to, but the urge to look up was irresistible.

“Get off my lawn!” someone yelled from one of the lower windows.

He let go of the paddles to put his hands up. “Please don’t kill me,” he said, “I’m a- a salesman?”

“Don’t want any,” the voice said, feminine he was sure.

“Please,” he said, “you’re my last castle to visit, I- I need to get paid.”

“I know all yer tricks,” she said, “and I don’t care. Get off my lawn or the next shot won’t be a warnin’.”

“Don’t you want to know what I’m even selling?” he asked.

There was a pause. “What is it then?”

“Pr-protective spells.” he said, feeling foolish as he said it.

The woman made a strange guttural sound and he realised she was laughing, no, cackling at him.

“What’s your name young man?”

“DJ,” he said.

“That the name your mother gave you?”

“No,” he said, “It’s Dinesh.”

“Dinesh,” she said, “you better come up, I’m losin’ my voice and I’m not done talking to you.”

He risked lowering his hands and tried to get a closer look, with no luck. Too late to back out now. As he tied off the boat and started climbing the ladder, he decided he’ll reward himself with dessert as well tonight. If he survived.

For my heart it wasn’t open

Title taken from Coldplay’s song Cemeteries of London

Jacob was a believer. Maybe he didn’t believe in God the same way his family believed in Him, but he believed.

What he didn’t believe in was praying to God. After all, the people that surround him now had prayed. They had prayed and prayed and where had it gotten them? Leaving their homes behind with everything they could carry on their backs, crossing a border in the middle of the night so they had a chance of living.

For as long as he could remember, he had been dragged along. He was told to sit still while the man talked about how you should treat people with kindness, give to charity, and thank God for all you have been given.

But Jacob also remembered that story his father had been so fond of, about the man who was drowning. He’d refused help from three different people, saying God will save him, until he had died. He’d asked God why He hadn’t saved him, and God told him He had sent three different people to help him.

He knew the lesson, of course, because his father had also liked to dissect things after saying them. God helps those who help themselves.

At the time he hadn’t been sure what that meant. If you were helping yourself then why would God need to help you? And those people, those monsters, had certainly helped themselves to his peoples land, to their homes and farms and God knows what else.

And God did know, he was all knowing after all. So had He helped the invaders? Jacob might only been fifteen but he knew that is not something you ask. God was meant to be on their side, one of the good guys.

He looked at his brother Henry, only two years his senior but had already seen more than any grown man should, and then at his younger sister Grace, who clung to their mothers hand as they walked over the soft earth. She won’t remember this when she grows up, he could only hope.

His mother’s face was haggard. They had set off at sun down and it must be well past midnight by now, but if they stopped they risked separation from the rest of the group. There was no added safety in numbers but without a grown man alongside them, they didn’t have much of a chance once they arrived at the other side.

Grace stumbled over a rock and nearly fell if it hadn’t been for his mothers steadying hand, but he could tell she was starting to wear thin. He knew his mother wouldn’t let him take any more of the weight on her back, clothes and food and other essentials, but he could bear something else for her.

He bent down and picked Grace up into his arms. She reflexively put her arms around his neck and held on. “I’m tired Jake,” she whispered, “when can we stop?”

“Not yet,” he replied, “get some rest.”

“Wake me when you get tired,” she mumbled, resting her head on his shoulder.

He adjusted his grip and kept walking, returning his mother’s smile.

No, Jacob didn’t believe in praying to God from inside a building while a man told them what to say, but as he put one foot after another, he believed they would get the help they needed.