My third entry into the MashStories.com flash fiction competition was shortlisted! As the competition picks up speed and followers it gets harder and harder to make it into the shortlisted stories so I’m supremely pleased that I made it in again.
MashStories holds four competitions a year and the only requirements for entry are that your story is 500 words or less and it uses three keywords (provided during each competition). The keywords for my competition were: Carpenter, Taxes and Vinegar. (Carpenter! I had already used “Carpenter Ants” in my At The Base of the Birch story!)
You can read my story here: Dear Jane
In the simplest of terms, it is over. But as I sit in my sparse room I hear the heart of you still professing “I Love. I Love. I Love.” In response I say, “I Know. I Trust. I Love” ad infinitum. Yet it is over just the same, as so many sang on the last night that I held you.
In our beginning you were recalcitrant when I teased and prodded and I was so undeniably attracted to your sassiness. In my past I’ve known myself to swallow the bile of jealousy until it erupted in frightening ways but I instantly thought I could control it when I took you into my home and heart. In time you also showed me your real hunger for life and told me of how trapped you felt. “Set me free,” you’d beg. You whispered it in my ear at night. You screamed it until it echoed but no one could grasp your pain as I did. We are of the same restless spirit, you and I.
April 15th was the first night that I thought it was the last time I’d hold you. I find it interesting that it is a date associated with taxes since the spending of our time together ultimately incurred the cost of my emotional well-being until fortune taxed me with the task of giving you up. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that look on your face when I began my goodbye. Never waning in my feelings, I held on to you as tightly as I could until you ceased to shake and tremble and our vinegar tears stopped passing back and forth between our eyelashes.
That night, as I held your still form, the gentle carpenter who constructs my dreams presented me with a plan for the survival of our love. When I told you the strategy the next morning, you just gaped at me wide-eyed with implicit trust and understanding. I wish I could convey the enormity of how those little gestures made me feel absolutely wonderful. Peaceful, even.
But your passiveness in all that followed, I admit, left me with a dry taste in my mouth. Were you aware of all that I did to keep us far from those devoid of passion? Those that would propose to separate us, as my father did, when he suspected my involvement in your absences from school and work.
On May 12th, the last night that I knew I would hold you, you stared blankly at the red and blue lights flashing in the windows of our refuge. “It’s over!” they sang until I submitted. Your parents’ cried on each others’ shoulders and my father stood in stony judgement. The same shamed look on him then as was on his face in the trial.
And now, though I still love you, I can no longer reach you. They won’t even tell me where you’re buried.
Patient: J. Gibson
St. Caedwalla’s Hospital for Behavioral Health
[OK I’m going to give you the breakdown here since none of my readers have “gotten” the story so far – which means I didn’t do my job well enough. Lessons for next time! This letter is being written by a kidnapper to his victim that he has killed early on in the story. It’s her body that he’s carrying around for the rest of the tale.]