by G Richmond
Story: 1000 Words
Status: Final Draft
Author: G. Richmond
Warnings: Angst, stream-of-consciousness style writing
Feedback levels: UP TO LEVEL 1
Feedback requests: None
Author's notes: As usual, I got inspired by a song (Land of a Thousand Words - Scissor Sisters). However, this time I decided to do something a little different. I turned it into a challenge and decided to make this story exactly 1000 words. So I did. And it was fun. Made writing interesting.
And this is intended to be a prequel to the Changing Suits series, but I think it stands alone as well.
The last line is taken directly from the song.
He sat down to write a list. A list of reasons. Reasons to stay.
He already had so many to leave.
Just one reason, he had decided, that was all he needed. One reason that overcame all the doubt, the pain, the emptiness. One reason.
There were so many things he could write, things that should have been good enough, things that were so wonderful and positive, but once written down rang hollow in his mind. Things that once he had loved, that he had admired and encouraged, things that he had aspired for himself. But as simple words on a page, a collection of haphazard letters, formed lines in a dark pigment, what did they really mean? Nothing. It was only an inferred meaning from recognised patterns; patterns that were so used and worn they barely made sense any more.
The list stopped being a list when it lost its form, and instead became a desperate race to find something, anything, that wasn't worth leaving behind. In his heart he wanted to stay, to find an excuse to take the easy discontentment, rather than take a risk for hard-earned happiness. They had played the game, danced the same dance for almost a year. Would a little longer really hurt?
Maybe it would. Sometimes his heart ached in his chest so much it felt like it was going to break. That it would give in and stop the awful beating that pulled on his arteries and bruised his lungs, and made it almost impossible to breath. Made his throat ache like there was a fist around it. Maybe he couldn't wait anymore, maybe he needed to leave before the enclosed separation killed him.
But he wanted so badly to find a reason. Some little light in the dark, some way back to how things had been. And things had been so good for so long. Vietnam, Prisoners of War, Fugitives, Soldiers of Fortune, Free Men. It had been good even when it had been bad, so why couldn't he find a single reason now? Had he finally used up all his `what if's, his excuses and scams? His pretty rhetoric and clever schemes escaped him now when he needed it most.
There wasn't a person he had met that he hadn't been able to scam, even himself, so why did reality come crashing in now? He didn't want to face the real facts when a lie would have made him feel so much better.
`They could fix this. Broken pieces, even hearts, could be mended with a little effort. Things didn't have to end. He didn't have to end it. It should be a mutual thing anyway. No, they could sit down and talk about it like adults. Fix it up and go back to how things had been.'
He struggled to remember the last time they had talked about anything. The last time he had even attempted to touch him; a kiss, a hug, a pat on the back. It was all a distant memory. A bittersweet recollection that caused just as much pain as it did joy. When had their relationship turned into such sweet misery?
He couldn't pinpoint an exact date. No definite event. That was what made it so hard. The realisation that things had changed had been gradual, like flower petals caught in intersecting currents. They had been together so long, but the waters were slowly pulling them apart, drifting in different direction. If they fought hard enough, struggled against the tides, maybe they could reconnect, but at what price? To be stuck in still waters to stagnate or drown?
He had to pick a road, he knew that. It was up to him to decide how to proceed. And he was usually so good at making decisions for himself, and for others. They weren't always the right decisions, but he stuck with him, and that was what worried him now.
What if he got it wrong?
Or what if it was right for one but not the other?
They could both end up in hell, a hell that was all his fault.
But if he didn't decide something they would remain in the same self-imposed stalemate for eternity. And after all, it really only came down to one thing.
That fickle word that people threw around like it had no weight. It floated like a feather at times, and dropped like an anchor at others. Sometimes it was evasive as smoke, and others it was as obvious as a thunderstorm. And it was a word that he had used time and time again, to pretty girls, with pretty faces and expensive clothes. Voice full of meaning, words as empty as space.
But not now. Now he understood. He had felt that clich, felt that all-encompassing warmth. A warmth that had become more important than money, food, even air, but had never demanded anything of him. A joy that had no monetary worth, but was priceless nonetheless. There were times, many times, that he had thought he wouldn't be able to survive without that warmth, that life simply wouldn't be worth living. Without that heat, that joy, that love, his life would be empty and meaningless.
That was really all it came down to.
Did he still love him?
He was still writing. A page full of unrecognisable patterns. He wanted so desperately for them to make sense. There were so many, one of them had to be the one. A memory, a word, the flash of a smile, a subtle expression. They were all there, and he smiled a little to himself as he read what his hand had written independent of the turmoil in his mind. Such a sad smile that cracked and wilted as he read and read.
So many reasons, so many marks forming into letters arranged in words.
A thousand words.
A thousand words, but it seemed so few were worth the breath to say.
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