| | | |

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Short Stories | Love On The Rocks

"Life is messy. Love is imperfect. People are flawed."

This week I received this lovely comment, 'I love this post. You're style of writing just makes me want to read more, have you ever considered writing a short story?' from the lovely Amy Hall of Smooth Amy on my review of Love, Rosie. It was such a lovely comment and it got me to thinking I haven't really talked much about fiction writing. I love writing fiction and have a few stories in the works, but truth be told it's something I find myself procrastinating more with because I'm more of a tougher critic of myself when it comes to my fiction than my blog writing. Rightly or wrongly so. That being said, this comment encouraged me to perhaps incorporate my fiction into my blog. Use it as a way to practice and also get feedback. This first piece I've decided to share is actually a short story I wrote for my GCSE English creative writing controlled assessment. There were a couple of different prompts we could use, but the one I went with was 'write a love story or a love/hate story.' I'll let you read it and then explain a little bit about where I got my inspiration.

Summer had been here many times before. She had been in the exact same place every time she'd watched him pack to leave her, but he always came back. She'd watch as he'd move from the wardrobe, to the set of drawers, to his backpack and haphazardly stuff his belongings into it. No real planning or thought put into what he was taking with him and nor, she guessed, where he was going. It was obvious he was focused on one thing and that was getting the hell out of there. Like I said though, he rarely made it. He'd stop for a second to catch his breath and put his erratic thoughts into order. It was this moment Summer knew to make her move. She'd get up from where she sat on the edge of the unmade bed they shared, move up behind him and hug him fiercely. She'd pour every ounce of love she could into that one embrace and that was all it took for him to crumble. All it took for him to realise this was where he belonged.

It wasn't always that simple. Sometimes the hug would only last ten seconds and other times it went on for what seemed like forever. Summer would feel him softening in her arms, only for him to steel himself against her touch once more. On those occasions he would pull out of her grasp and despite the small feeling of reluctance she could feel radiating off him, he would leave. He would walk out the door without looking back but he would be back. He always came back.

However, this time was different. Summer couldn't put her finger on why but she could just feel it. His body language screamed determination. His motions weren't jerky or hesitant like the times before. Systemically, he moved throughout the room and packed his belongings. Today there would be no breaking his resolve. Finality hung in the air around them like a thick smog, causing her every breath to clog in her lungs. She could not move. She could not speak. All Summer could do was watch as her one constant prepared to leave her.

It seems ludicrous that someone who was constantly leaving could be considered a constant but that's what Winter was to her. Oh yes, Summer and Winter. Their names were like the punchline to a joke. The funny thing was their names couldn't have fit them any better. Summer Deyes and Winter Knight. That's exactly what they were. She was a bright, sunny, summer day with her golden hair and eyes so blue they rivalled the clearest of skies. Her smile beamed. Literally beamed. It was contagious. The kind of smile that lit up the room and made those around her smile too. Her personality radiated warmth like the sun's rays. Winter was her opposite. His hair was as black as the darkest night and his eyes were grey and stormy. Unlike Summer, a smile rarely touched his lips. He had that broody thing going on that a lot of girls went for.


Not Summer however. No, she'd barely been able to tolerate him when they'd first met, let alone be drawn to the dark and mysterious aura he gave off. Despite all their differences they did have one thing in common. When they'd met Winter had done everything too much and too hard. He'd smoked too much, swore too much, partied too hard and drank too much. The latter had been the reason the two had met as it was a problem that Summer shared. Not that Winter had ever really considered his drinking a problem.

Summer and Winter had met at an AA meeting. Romantic, I know. Winter had landed himself there after a DUI but Summer was there voluntarily. She'd first noticed him when he'd arrived late to his first meeting. Being the ball of sunshine she was, Summer liked to welcome newcomers to make them feel at home. Much the same way she'd been welcomed. Since the meeting had already started she threw Winter a welcoming smile as he took a seat and he returned what could only be described as a look of apathy. Summer had been part of the group long enough to know that often people felt uncomfortable when they first arrived but she could tell he wasn't nervous or shy. It was the first time Summer had encountered someone so wholly in denial. Someone who didn't think they needed to be there.

What he didn't know was that Summer had been around alcoholics long enough to know the signs. One of which was the fact he was already a little buzzed. She was certain of it. Summer had started to drink at a young age to block out what was going on around her. To say she came from a less than ideal home life was an understatement. Her father had split soon after she was born which had led to a succession of men her mother used to try and replace him. After the first few they became faceless men she referred to as Joe. No point learning their names if they weren't going to stick around long enough to care about hers. Despite each one outlasting the one before as Summer's mother attempted to shape and mould herself into the perfect partner, none of them lasted forever. And forever was what Nora Deyes wanted.

Each time another Joe left, Nora would drink more to ease the pain. Pain that she would take out on Summer. Never physically. No. Maybe that would have been easier because at least physical bruises heal. However the emotional wounds left on her heart by the vile words her mother had used against her would be with her forever. Even so, they weren't enough to drive Summer to drink. That had been caused by the fights. Fights full of screaming and shouting that Nora would have with whatever Joe had decided to leave. Fights that went on for hours. Eventually leading on to the many nights of crying and throwing up that Summer would have to listen to through paper thin walls as her mum drank herself into oblivion until the next Joe came along. Her mother hadn't taught her much but if there was one thing Nora had taught her it was that alcohol was something you could turn to for help. And considering she didn't exactly have many other options, alcohol had become Summer's best friend. It wasn't difficult because if there was one thing she could count on her mother for it was an abundance of easily accessible booze. It was more likely to be in the cupboard than food.

Nora's death from alcohol poisoning, when Summer was seventeen, had been the wake up call Summer needed to seek help. Help that didn't come from a bottle. Her mother's death was like a door closing on her old life. A door that would remain ajar until she'd fully kicked the habit. Okay, habit wasn't a strong enough word. Addiction. Until she'd fully kicked the addiction.

That's where the AA group had come in. She'd rocked up not long after her eighteenth birthday and found somewhere she could call home. Jasper, the guy that ran the meetings and former alcoholic, had become to her what she had always wished one of her mother's many Joes could have been. It was fair to say he'd taken pity on her and she'd welcomed it. It was difficult to say goodbye to him when he'd eventually moved on but he'd deserved it. He'd done well for himself, settling down and starting the family he'd always thought alcoholism had robbed him off. It had made the sting of parting ways more sweet than bitter.

Two years later, when Summer was twenty, she still found herself going along to meetings. This was when she'd met Winter. She didn't go because she felt like she needed to but because she enjoyed it. She enjoyed remembering where she had come from and helping others to where she was now. Free of addiction. Well, as much as one can be. She also liked being a reminder that alcoholism isn't something that only happens to older people. Addiction doesn't discriminate and she was living proof you're never too young to seek help.

A drawer closing on the other side of the room brought Summer's thoughts, which had wandered off into the past, back to the present. Her brow furrowed as she frowned a little. It had never occurred to her that despite her best efforts she wasn't so unlike her mother. Sure she didn't drink to numb herself to the world anymore but she was still living in a cycle. A cycle of being left. Perhaps she'd convinced herself she was different because her cycle didn't involve a series of men but a single man. A man she loved and she was certain loved her in return. Or maybe it was because she had never fully needed to come to terms with Winter's leaving because she was always sure he'd come back. Until today at least.

Summer remembered the day she fell in love with Winter like it was yesterday. Okay, she didn't fall so much as stumble. For so long all she could see was his denial and reluctance to let anyone in. She'd taken it as a challenge. Slowly she wormed her way in, convinced there was more to the man beneath the indifferent exterior. Then one day she pried a smile from his lips and she'd felt as if she'd struck gold. It was then she realised that as she'd wheedled her way passed his defences that he'd gotten a foothold on her heart. No, they didn't fall for each other. To fall gives the impression that it happened suddenly but for Winter and Summer it had happened gradually. They had exchanged pieces of themselves and eventually their hearts, little by little.

Suddenly Winter was walking towards her and Summer's heart began to speed up. This was new. Every time he had prepared to leave her before he hadn't been able to bring himself to look at her. This time he was making a point to. Her eyes slid closed for a second and she took a deep breath, reluctantly meeting his gaze once he came to a stop in front of her. "I..." she began to speak but he raised a hand to stop her. "Please, let me," he said as he reached out to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear before cupping her cheek in his comforting palm, "I love you." Her breath hitched as she looked into the stormy depths of his eyes and realised what he was doing. He was saying goodbye. If there had been any doubt in her mind that he wasn't coming back, she was rid of it now.

Summer wasn't aware her expression had changed until his hand moved to smooth out the crease in her brow where it had dipped into a frown of confusion. She wasn't confused as to what was happening, but why? What had changed? Something else that was confusing her was her lack of feeling. She had imagined she would feel bewildered at the impending loss but she just felt numb as she waited for him to continue.

"I love you so much, but it isn't enough. I'm not enough," he grimaced as he spoked and she could see pain written over his features. Pain she felt should be mirrored in her own but wasn't. What she didn't understand was that if it was causing him so much pain, why was he determined to leave? "For so long you have tried to fix me or at least steer me in the right direction. Even when I made it so difficult for you and put up such a fight. I scoffed at you when you told me you understood why I drank." He slid his hands down her arms to take hers and she remembered back to when she'd told him she understood. That unlike her, he didn't drink to escape what was going on around him. Rather he drank to escape something in himself. A thing that was a lot more difficult to fix.

"You were right," he carried on, "I realise that now. I drink to get away from myself but all it really does is take me away from you. I can't keep leaving you. I won't turn you into your mother." Winter paused for a moment to look at her as if to check she was following what he was saying. He must have been satisfied with whatever he read on her expression because he carried on. "I can't love you like you deserve until I learn to love myself. I need to fill this void with something other than booze and then maybe I can be the kind of man someone like you deserves." He squeezed her hands and looked into her eyes almost pleadingly. Pleading with her to understand. Pleading with her not to hate him.

Summer and Winter simply gazed at each other for a moment and she realised he was giving her a chance to reply. She took a moment to gather her thoughts. This man she had been with for the last five years was saying goodbye to her for the final time. It wasn't lost on her that he'd said 'someone like you', meaning he didn't envision that person actually being her. Summer's first thought was to stomp and scream, cling to him and refuse to let him go. Tell him she didn't care that every time he fell off the wagon, he split and went on a bender. Tell him that what they had was enough. He was enough. But she knew that wasn't love talking. It was stubbornness. To let him go without a fight felt like giving up on him, even if it's what he wanted. And giving up on him was something Summer had sworn she would never do.

So when it came to it she found herself uttering a simple, "Okay." Winter's eyes widened a little and she realised she'd shocked him with her easy acceptance of what he'd said. So she carried on, "I was wrong to think I could hold you together. Hold us together. You deserve better than that too. You deserve real happiness and love and that begins with real happiness within yourself and real love for yourself." As she said the words she realised those were things she needed for herself too. For so long her world had revolved around their relationship and trying to avoid the next time he'd leave. It would be unfair to say that in the five years they'd been together she'd never felt true happiness, but her happiness had been in his hands. And that wasn't fair either.

Winter took a moment to process what Summer had said before using her hands to pull her into his strong embrace. "Thank you," he whispered into the softness of her hair, "I love you so much. You'll never know how much you mean to me and how grateful I am to you." Summer returned his fierce hug and squeezed her eyes shut as she soaked him in for the last time. Emotion swelled inside her and all she could bring herself to say in return was a soft, "I know." Because she did know and she hoped that he knew all she felt for him in return.

A few moments later Winter pulled back and Summer sank back down on to the edge of the bed. They exchanged a final look. A look charged with everything unsaid, everything they had hoped to be and everything they never would. Winter took a deep breath, grabbed his backpack and made for the door. Unlike the times before, he stopped at the door, glanced over his shoulder, gave Summer a small smile and then he was gone. A smile tugged at the corners of Summer's lips at the throwback to a time when Winter would let his indifferent fa├žade drop and give her a glimpse of the man she knew was beneath.

Summer had imagined she would feel racked with pain and loss, as well as the urge to run after him and convince to come home but she did not. Instead she took a deep, fortifying breath and gathered her thoughts. For so long he had been her everything, she really didn't know what it meant to live without him but something told her she could. As she sat there she thought back over their relationship. The kind of relationship Disney movies and romantic comedies never prepared you for. Nobody ever told you that love didn't guarantee you would rid off into the sunset with your prince. Life is messy. Love is imperfect. People are flawed. But did that diminish what they had shared? Summer didn't think so. One thing was for sure though, Summer was determined she would never make the same mistake her mother had. She would never entertain the belief that a man was the prerequisite for a happily ever after.

The End

So there you have it. The first piece of fiction I've shared on my blog. I decided to do something a little different with the prompt and went with a break up of two people who still loved each other and the theme of self love. Part of my inspiration came from RuPaul's quote, "If you can't love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?" that he says at the end of every episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. I'm also a firm believer that you cannot be truly happy until you learn to be happy by yourself. You should never let someone be responsible for your happiness, nor should you let someone make you responsible for theirs. It's toxic. 

If you would like to see more of this type of post in the future please let me know. I'm also happy to take prompt requests, because that might be fun! Challenge myself. Anyway! Back to your regular programming tomorrow with My Week In Words. Hope everyone is having a nice weekend.

6 comments:

  1. So....I'm going to need you to turn this into a 10 book series, okay? :)

    That was a really amazing story and I loved the visuals you added. I hope you post more!

    Amanda | teatimetails.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha! Maybe I'll write about them meeting a few years later or something. That might be fun! :D

      Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) xo

      Delete
  2. Not a bad short story maybe it wasn't deep enough in terms of Alcoholism or AA but it read well. What grade did you get?

    I found the animated gifs distracting but I can see why you added them. Maybe it's just because I'm a guy and find it difficult to imagine a scene in my head when there are moving pics of other characters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it wasn't really supposed to be about them being alcoholics or going to AA, it was about their relationship as the prompt was a love story. That's just a little bit of back story. Plus I had to be able to write it in 2 hours or so, so I couldn't go too much into detail. :D I haven't got the grade yet.

      Yeah, I guess that's just a personal preference thing. I thought they broke up the wall of text a bit and visually they were supposed to be the characters in the scenes. Not other characters. :)

      Delete
  3. I loved this post, it's so cool being able to read other people's work and it always inspires me to write more myself and keep going with creativity! I love the prompt you used and the your style of writing is lovely, very descriptive and the character's names were brilliantly done. Lovely post and I'd love to see more! - Tasha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah, I find that too. Or just reading in general inspires me. I've been putting fiction on a back burner though, so perhaps incorporating it with my blog will motivate me to keep up with it and also help me improve! Thanks for the lovely compliments. :) xo

      Delete

I read and welcome all comments and appreciate them greatly even if I may not answer all of them. I love hearing my reader's thoughts and interacting with you. Thanks!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...