Sunday, 1 March 2015

Charge and Story

I have a charge for you*.

*"you" especially means YOU, silent followers. 

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(Slightly desperate-sounding) charge aside, I have a story for you!

Yes, indeed, you may well look incredibly surprised, because who knows when I last posted writing on this blog? I've been working on The Novel for so long that I barely write short stories any more (I know, I'm a bad writer), but after at least a couple of you said (via the poll, in which you can still vote, go go go!) that you like my writing-ish posts, I thought I'd share.

It doesn't have a title.

From where I’m sitting, the girl’s face is half covered by shadow. She’s blonde, smiling, pretty enough in her school uniform to know she’d be a knock-out at a party. Toby is leaning forward, eyes following her face. He laughs at something she says, not with his head thrown back like when we were little but in the way he has been practising in front of the mirror. I’ve made fun of him for that, and regretted it when I see the hurt in his face. This is why I’m trapped like this, in this limbo. I can’t talk to him like before. I can’t make things the way they used to be.            
The girl’s phone beeps, and the spark in her eyes jumps backwards, away from Toby and down into her pocket. She flips it out, casually rude, and scans the screen. Toby wipes his hands together. It is not the girl that he wants so badly, that etches this disappointment onto his face. I know him well enough to see that what he craves is the glamour that surrounds people like her. I remember when he didn’t care, when wonder came from a hermit crab wriggling in a rock pool we found together, or from the shapes we could make in the clouds. Now he is desperate for something else. 
“Toby,” I say. He looks up with brow furrowed, eyebrows telling me the words he is about to say.           
“Not now, Lucas,” he hisses. “I’m trying to—” He moves his hand in place of words, as he has always done, and the girl glances up, for a second distracted from her distraction. He smiles at her, and shoots me a furious look as she turns away again.            
“Get lost!” He speaks through gritted teeth.            
“Hey, come on,” I say. “Don’t waste your time on her. Let’s go, there’s time before Maths, we could go to—”            
“No!”            
“What?” says the girl. She slides the phone away and Toby forces a smile. 
“Oh, nothing,” he says. “But you were telling me about your party?”            
“Yeah,” she says. Her mouth is glossed pink, eyes outlined with black. She is chewing gum. I watch the muscle in jaw working and tune out her voice. Toby is nodding, running a hand through his hair in the gesture I remember from years ago, four summers and a lifetime past when we holidayed in Anglesey. We ate barbecued food on the beach, sausages charred on the outside and pink in the middle, and swam in the sea until the stars came out and Toby’s mum forced us inside. We didn’t talk about the future. We barely knew that it was coming. I smile, but it feels more like a sigh.            
Toby’s eyes flick to my face, and he sends me a warning look. “Go away,” he mouths. Part of me wants to punch him and leave right now, but I know I can’t. He needs me. I think.        
“Toby, come on,” I say again.            
“Shut up, Lucas!” he says, and the girl laughs, perplexed.            
“What was that?” She looks behind her, through me at the posters on the classroom wall.            
“Nothing,” Toby says, smooth as ever.            
“I almost thought there was someone behind me.”          
He laughs and shakes his head, making eye contact with me for a second. My hands look pale beneath the strip lighting. 
The girl laughs with him, tongue between her teeth, pretty mouth teasing. She leans forward. “You don’t have an imaginary friend, do you?”              
Toby laughs louder. “Of course not,” he says. I lean against the wall. It feels as though I am sinking into it. Maybe it’s this fluorescent light, but my hands are very pale.

So. Thoughts? Musings? Constructive criticism? Come to think of it, I've not read any of your stories in a while; I feel like we've all stopped posting our writing, when we used to share it a lot more. So if you have posted some recently, link me up!

Emily x