Several years ago, I began a selection of short stories that explore the complexity of the mind. The time is right to continue. Each story published in bite sized parts of 500 words. We begin with….
a short story
by Shelley Fallows
The ghost lingered. He was constantly playing with her: teasing, taunting and always just in the periphery of her subconscious. She sensed him everywhere, his presence a constant weight like the chains that rattled and haunted Ebenezer Scrooge’s dreams. The misery was hers alone, she dared not share her torment with anyone. After all who would believe such a thing. He filled her thoughts; his smell, the way he smiled, the look in his eyes. Gone but never forgotten. No matter how hard she tried.
She often wondered if it was her fault. If thinking of him allowed his spirit to linger, allowed the constant haunting she felt but couldn’t speak of. What would they think of her? She could see the doubt in their eyes even now. No, she must remain quiet. And still he was there, yet he wasn’t and a part of her missed him. The ache was gentle, soft and whispering. It came unexpectedly and took the breath from her in an instant. Oh god, how she missed him.
He’d said it so matter of fact that she’d thought she’d misheard him at first.
Her hands instinctively lifted to her hair, tucking it self-consciously behind her ears. But she smiled.
The memory seemed hazy now. Slightly obscure and faded. She’d been flattered of course. He had a charm that warmed her soul. He reminded her that she was still alive, that she had something to offer in a world driven by the pursuit of perfection, in a world where age causes you to slowly disappear like a photograph left in the sun too long.
‘What do you see in him?’ a friend had asked, and she shrugged. Everything.
There was a connection she couldn’t explain and when he’d looked at her, she felt he knew her and that she knew him. Of course, a look can be deceiving and can put words in our head that are never spoken. Words that are untrue but begin the gentle swell of thoughts that grow and grow into a tidal wave of emotions and misunderstanding. He was a lie, a dark dream that stole your sleep at night and clouds of darkness that suffocated your thoughts by day.
Then suddenly he was gone. He had left quietly without fuss and for a while she’d felt a sense of peace and relief that it was over. But obsession doesn’t sleep for long… it simply grows stronger.
The phone buzzed in her pocket. A brief sensation against her thigh, still again in an instant and yet its presence felt heavier somehow, the weight of meaning holding her attention. A moment’s hesitation and she could bear to wait no longer. A single line filled the screen.
I’ll always be with you.
A button pressed and the line was gone, replaced by an enquiry from her mother about timings for dinner that weekend. Yet the words lingered, she felt them floating around her.
I’ll always be with you.
To be continued…