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Friday Flash: Silhouettes

August 27, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve done a #fridayflash and I’ve missed it. 😀 For those of you who don’t know, Best of Friday Flash, Volume I is out now! There are so many good stories there by so many talented people. I’m honored to have a story in it, “The Painting.” Check it out!

She hadn’t known she would do it. It simply flew out of her mouth as if spoken by someone else. He sat, stunned.

“I need time to think,” Chase said, running his hands through his hair. He sat in front of the window. The morning sunlight poured in, silhouetting him as he rocked back in the chair, balancing at a nearly perfect 45 degree angle. The chair then rocked forward and Chase’s head dropped, his body going limp as a ragdoll. He looked utterly defeated. “Did you mean it?”

“Yes.” She didn’t know what else to say. Her hand grazed the urine-soaked sheet on his side of the bed.

“Quite a brilliant test,” her therapist would later say.

Two nights before, Chase, staggering, had fallen beside that same chair. Trying to steady him, her body had cushioned his fall. Once on the ground, he looked up at her, his eyes like a child’s. He tugged at his jeans zipper. After the fourth unsuccessful try to get it down, she gently moved his hand out of the way and did it for him. “I never want to lose you,” Chase said before he passed out. Later, Chase’s roommate stepped over their naked bodies to get to the apartment’s only bathroom.

The next afternoon, Chase played his newest recordings for her. The ones he would play for no one else. “You’re the only one I trust to understand them,” he said. She’d felt herself become real.

“I know I’m betraying us by doing this—” She wiped the residue of the sheet’s urine on her nightgown.

“Betraying?” Chase raised his voice. “What are you talking about? You’ve been nothing but good to me. I—”

But she could see it in his eyes.

They were going to the pawnshop today. Chase had finally saved enough money to get some of his instruments out. Surprisingly, there was almost no sign of his comatose state from the night before. “Don’t worry, I’ve never been addicted to anything but heroin, he’d said, doing another line of cocaine. Heroin. What he was trying to kick now. Cocaine. A new drug to counter the pain of withdrawal. One that would numb instead of excite when combined with all the other drugs in his system.

She’d turned to face the wall. She kept herself from crying by thinking about the early Christmas present she’d planned. She was going to get all of his instruments out of pawn, not just some of them. She would surprise him before they left.

She had. She’d told him about it, then listened, stunned. “I can give you the money to get all of your instruments out, but I never want to see you again if I do.” That’s not what she’d meant to say.

“Why did you have to do this now? Chased raised his voice further. “Don’t you realize I’m going through fucking withdrawal?! You have no idea how much pain I’m in.” The first harsh words Chase had ever spoken to her hit her body like a blow. He saw her flinch and looked as if he were going to cry.

They were silent then, both looking at each other with tears in their eyes. For a brief second she felt real again.

Then Chase looked down at the floor and said, very softly: “Can we go get the money now?”

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2010 11:08 am

    Tough material, and I find myself at a loss for words. I feel love, pain, loss. This one hits me in the gut.

    • August 27, 2010 2:14 pm

      Thanks, David. it hit me that way, too, when I wrote the last sentence. The next #fridayflash I write will have to be a little more uplifting. Lol!

  2. August 27, 2010 1:40 pm

    Oh, Melissa! What a heartbreaking story. Where are they’re parents?! Geeze. I just want to hug them both and protect them from themselves. Well written and welcome back! (I’ve been gone off and on, too over the summer.)

    • August 27, 2010 2:15 pm

      So glad you’re back, too, Shannon!! Glad both characters came off as sympathetic. Both in need of love and protection. 🙂

  3. August 27, 2010 2:48 pm

    Quite a powerful story. Sad what addiction will do to people. Well written!

  4. yearzerowriters permalink
    August 27, 2010 2:53 pm

    I think you got the distorted humanity & values among self-obsessed junkies spot on. All throughout I was squirming about that urine covered sheet. Wow! To be reduced to a grand gesture of redeeming something from a pawn shop as a kiss off present – wonderfully portrayed

    marc nash

    • August 27, 2010 7:11 pm

      Thanks, Marc. I love how you put it: “To be reduced to a grand gesture of redeeming something from a pawn shop as a kiss off present…” Indeed.

  5. August 27, 2010 10:19 pm

    Great hard-as-nails story, Melissa (and SO super to have you back!). Spot-on about all the behaviors of addicts and the people who love them. but bravo for her for walking away.

    I wonder: does he want the instruments out, or just want the money to get high? Bravo, girl! Peace…

    • August 27, 2010 11:11 pm

      It’s good to be back, Linda. 🙂 And I’ve been meaning to ask you about PURE–is the manuscript complete yet? I want to read the entire thing if you’re looking for readers.

      As for the instruments–I wanted to leave the ambiguity about that in the story. Originally they were going *together* to the pawnshop to retrieve his instruments and she would’ve paid for them there, his hands never touching cash. But under these circumstances–if she’s not going with him (and it doesn’t look like she is)–his choice for the money–and her behavior in giving him the option of cash–remain totally ambiguous in terms of motive. For both.

  6. August 27, 2010 10:48 pm

    I’m wondering the same thing as Linda … cash-in-hand may outweigh his desire for his instruments, especially during withdrawal. But yes, both characters were definitely sympathetic and in need of help. Hard core stuff here – you’ve gotten at the emotion in the situation. Welcome back!

    • August 27, 2010 11:20 pm

      Thanks! It’s good to be back. I definitely think the cash could outweigh his desire for instruments–if it wouldn’t have before, I’m sure his girlfriend walking out would be enough to tip him in that direction. Her offering money makes her motives ambiguous as well. As I wrote to Linda, her original plan was for them to go to the pawnshop together, ensuring the instruments’ retrieval. Now it looks like she won’t be around for that trip and the money is all his–to do with as he pleases…Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  7. Deanna Schrayer permalink
    August 28, 2010 7:08 pm

    First of all Melissa – welcome back! I’ve missed you!

    This is such a well-written story, and must’ve been difficult to get out without crying, (it would be for me anyway). Sadly, this makes me think of my dearest friend. She’s so good to those she loves, but especially her “boyfriend” (I have a hard time calling him that) that she’ll do anything at all to support him, no matter how much it hurts either of them. You nailed the emotions of them both here. Great work!

    • August 30, 2010 10:29 am

      Thanks, Deanna. Actually my eyes did tear up at the last sentence when I read it back through. It was just so sad. I thought, “All right, I need to write a more hopeful story next time!”

  8. August 28, 2010 7:14 pm

    You certainly grabbed me right into that scene. That was a tough one but knowing that I felt it was tough means it was good. I love the ideas of the Flash Friday. Congratulations on having a story included. Maybe I will try it someday.

  9. August 31, 2010 12:28 pm

    How lovely to see you back Melissa!

    And with quite a corker as well. I love that she wasn’t intending to say it, but did. She’s doing the right thing, and her super-ego had to take over there for a minute… The last line is a whopper!

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