Flash Fiction and creative writing in general is a fragile passion of mine - I swing towards it often as a source of expression and then feel the huge gravitational pull of writing something BIG pull at me so I swing away once again for fear of being drawn into too deep.
Perhaps sharing some of my writing here will ease that journey towards something bigger; perhaps it will suffice for my creative spirit. Either way, the time felt right - I am feeling bolder to own who I am and share it, regardless.
What follows is called Burning Regret and owes much of its inspiration to a very dear friend who is a creative spirit in his own right and braver than he realises.
It was burning even before I arrived. Silver grey flakes of ash float gently down like hellish snow whilst the pop of searing wood sounds out from what remains of my life. It’s not like I meant any of it to happen, but it happened all the same. Sometimes, no matter what you wish, the flames rise up and the world sets to burning.
A flash of blue illuminates the canopy above and I step back into the deeper cover of trees watching the fire engine roll up. My hand rests on the rough bark, the blue light highlights ragged nails with chipped varnish and a pencil thin wrist. The tarnished and battered bangle he gave me slips down into my sleeve, gliding over a storm of bruises as it goes. No sirens wail as the lights draw closer, just the lazy sweep of blue bathing the empty street and quiet woods. Like me, they know this is a lost cause and beyond help. No need to rush. The damage is done and regrets don’t come with a refund.
I’ve been living off of regrets for too long now. Regrets about choices made; paths walked and chances taken. Relationships that flourish only on bitterness and lies, small hopes cast on loaded dice. Tonight, I was cashing out though – win or lose, this was not a game I wanted to play anymore.
I wince as my hand brushes away an unwanted tear and catches the broken skin of my cheek; then I brace for the sting of my split lip that inevitably follows – these freshest regrets will take a while to heal b
ut at least they will be the last. All that lays ahead now is a new choice – where to start over? Where to rinse away the smell of smoke and regret? Where to find someone new to be.
I turn away from the heat, night air cool on my skin, soothing my stinging cheek and head back to the sleepy town below. Down the steps and through the woods that just months ago I ran through, breathless with laughter before collapsing into submission as he caught up; sweeping me into a rough cheeked embrace that now I know was just another way to claim what was his.
When we first found this place in the summer, it had been like a dream – a brand new estate completely abandoned. Something about a disagreement over land rights left the whole place with no residents, not even security. Just hollow dream homes and the ghosts of possibilities.
I’d never had my own place before, never mind one that had extra bedrooms and a pool – even if it was just a hole in the ground that the leaves gathered in, chasing themselves in endless circles. For once I thought I had somewhere to put down roots; somewhere I could belong and come back to. Someone who wanted to share that dream with me as we wrapped ourselves in show home furs in front of a real log fire, blazing with heat and light as the days grew colder.
But that’s the thing with empty dreams – they give you space to grow in and then you fall through them like rain clouds. Like roots pushing up through a rotten floor, the truth broke in and brought it all down, crashing.
Soft words got replaced by bitter silence; sweeping embraces with wicked fists; shared laughter with paranoid accusations. Perhaps my fairy tale could never really have been forever – was I just Goldilocks waiting for the bears to come home whilst I slept in someone else’s bed? Or perhaps Sleeping Beauty stuck in a nightmare and wrapped forever in thorns?
Here in the cool of the woods the ferocity of the blaze feels tempered but the timbers still send up flurries of sparks as offerings to the inky night – I watch them wisp above the trees. So fragile, so dangerous.
I wonder when they will realise this isn’t an empty property and if more blue lights will come up the hill, rushing and wailing.
I wonder if the half full bottle of rum will still be in his fist then they find him.
I wonder how long it took the empty container of painkillers to melt and bubble in the heat.
I wonder if his lungs filled with smoke or if the drugs swimming through the rum stilled his chest even before the fire took hold.
No, there could be no regrets when given a new path. Fire wipes the slate clean and scours away your sins. Fire is deliverance from this fairy-tale castle and I welcome the burn.
Somewhere with big skies would be nice. Somewhere by the clear, blue ocean. Some place
always warm so I don’t need to build another fucking fire.