Short Stories

17 articles in category Short Stories / Subscribe

It’s been seventeen years, but I remember.

I remember sleeping with my sister with the lights off, because lights of any kind during the night is dangerous. I remember my Dad went out every night to patrol the neighbourhood with the other dads, while the moms and children stayed at home, and waited.

I remember the aftermath. The blackened buildings, the smoked houses on the corner of the street – waiting to be rebuilt, waiting to be touched. I remember the shattered glasses on the street, and the feeling of hopelessness. Of chaos. I remember my grandmother holding my hand and said, ‘I’ve known a man who falls to his knees and wept – for he has young daughters, and they are raped.’

I remember.

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Some show their love through a hundred red roses. Some buy her ice cream even when he tells her to lose weight. Some walk her home. Him?

He went to his boss and said, ‘I need to change my leave – from Friday to Tuesday.’

He understood when she didn’t able to come home to him that Tuesday, and he waited for her, again.

He woke up on Saturday morning, excited, and braved the traffic.

And when he finally saw her for the first time in months, he smiled, rushed towards her, took her bulging luggages, and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

‘I’ve missed you,’ he whispered.

And so she beamed, and wondered if she could ever be even more loved than this.

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Human mind is, ah, what’s the word? Weird. No, perhaps it’s not weird. It’s complex. It’s complicated. It’s random, and somehow, it really has a mind of its own.

Once in a while, I remember some remnants of my half-forgotten childhood. My memory has never been my strongest forte, and yet at times, my brain gives me back something that I thought was lost.

Feelings.

Feelings at that exact time and place. The details are always blurry, but I can always know for certain the feeling that accompanies it.

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I don’t know, it’s just gone.’

‘What do you mean you don’t know? Wha- What happened?’

He sighed. He had said the same thing twice and he didn’t know how to soften the blow any better. He avoided her eyes. ‘My feelings are gone.’

Lizzy forced herself to look him in the eyes, hopelessly trying to find something – hesitation, guilt, a spark of feeling, anything. She could only find hatred. ‘Why?’ she finally asked.

‘I just don’t love you anymore,’ he said it as a matter of fact. There was no remorse, not even a single hint of longing. Nothing. He gave her that flat sentence, finally ecstatic that he had said the thing he had wanted to say for the past month. Then he walked away.

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It all started on that rainy day.

I was running home from work and as I always had bad luck, that day was the only day I forgot my umbrella. Only really, I didn’t forget to bring one. I lent it yesterday to a colleague because she was too scared that the unseen rain would ruin her hair, so I gave her my umbrella and walked away.

It didn’t rain yesterday.

So I was running home, using my soaked-to-life brown leather bag to cover my head. Taking the usual route, I would go pass this bridge of love where lovers, tourists, soon to be exes, and new couples bought fancy locks and keys to declare their love for each other.

Obviously, I didn’t buy that. If there was a research, I bet 87 per cent of these people have broken up.

And that, was when I met him.

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Pam couldn’t stop biting her nails.

She had left this habit long ago in high school when the boys made fun of her. But today, especially today, she needed those nails back. It provided her with the familiarity that life was still what once it was. She needed to know that.

She sat there on the chair, legs crossed, eyes straight ahead. She couldn’t make what the young woman on the podium was saying. She couldn’t concentrate. Pam was biting her right nails, and her left hand squeezed a sheet of paper. She counted to ten. And again. And again. But she couldn’t help not thinking, couldn’t help not feeling.

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“You lied to me once,” Terry said. “It is very hard for me.”

Jean froze. She was about to open her mouth and say something but those words burnt her from the inside. She opened her mouth again, but not a sound would come out. Powerless, she threw her body to the sofa.

Terry was frozen himself. He didn’t mean to. He never meant to hurt Jean. He loved Jean. He loved her with all his heart and even when he was in so much pain, he still loved her. But it didn’t mean his wounds had healed.

Jean froze, her legs weak, her arms lifeless. She stared with such emptiness in her eyes to the kitchen, trying to process anything to go inside her brain. She couldn’t think. She felt this piercing wound into her soul, as if it had taken the life out of her heart.

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“Tell me that we’re going to be okay,” Hallie said, her eyes transfixed on the horizon as the wind whispered a melody in her ear.

“We are going to be okay,” Blake said, letting out a sigh. He nudged around the sand until he found a comfortable spot, and reached her hand.

“No, tell me the lie. Tell me that we’re going to be okay,” Hallie said, silently allowing Blake to reach his hand. His hand was cold. It was as if he was a stranger.

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He turned twenty-two today.

Sally woke up with a tremble in his feet. She didn’t know why, but her whole body was shivering like it was winter in July. But winter in July? Sally laughed. It had been a dry week.

Yet she shivered, the coldness piercing her bones.

She kicked her blanket and began her morning routine. First she would knelt beside her bed while folding her blanket into a perfect square. Then she would place it slowly above her pillow. She brought two fingers from her right hand to her lips and placed them on her blanket. Then Sally would get up and go straight to the mirror, as if trying to remember the girl she was.

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