MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the category “Short Stories”

Needing something you don’t know you do

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The thing with shopping is that you don’t know you want something until the moment you see it. And despite not really needing it before, in that precise moment you can conjure up so many different uses for it that it becomes a must-need purchase. And just like that, you become a shopper.

Jenny was an avid shopper. For all kinds of things.

The most dangerous type of shopping is the online one. Because there you spend hours on end scrolling through sites, experiencing a different kind of window-shopping, to the extent that you forgot what you actually needed to do, or how you even ended up on that particular site. But in seconds, you become so mesmerised by the need to acquire something you only see on a screen that you end up rapidly spending money you don’t actually ever see to buy products you cannot feel or test. And then there is the added anguish of having to constantly monitor your order to ensure that it will eventually arrive to your doorstep. And if not, there is at times an endless bureaucratic procedure to get your money back or at least the product at a delayed arrival time. It makes you wonder if it is worth the trouble of actually going to a store and purchasing things in hand.

But Jenny loved online shopping. It somehow offered the therapy she needed from the comfort of her own couch, scrolling thorough different interesting products and styles and imagining how she could wear or make use of them. She knew that online offers were a lure. A cheeky one often, because they were targeting consumers like her who couldn’t resist. But she would always fall into the trap and then rummage for cash until the end of the month.

She was somehow compensated for it all though when her digitally-purchased package finally arrived. And the unboxing process filled her with joy. As if someone else had given her a gift.

Sometimes the things we give ourselves are what make us happy, even if they do decrease our funds.

Roundabout questions

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So, what do you feel like doing tonight?

It’s a question that entails the freedom of decision, the willingness to abide by it, while also placing the ‘burden’ of finding something to do on the other person.

For indecisive people, this is a challenge.

“I don’t know, perhaps see a movie? We can either go to the cinema or order in and watch one at home”.

He smiled. She wasn’t finished. So he held back his reply a little longer.

What do you prefer?

The question-bounce-back, that returns the responsibility of choosing an activity to the original question-setter. Like a boomerang returning to the one who threw it.

If the person who initiated the conversation continues the questioning of the type, “whatever you want” or, even worse, poses another option, their indecisive interlocutor becomes lost and even more agitated by the daunting task of having to pick an entertainment. And doing something fun suddenly becomes a chore.

Let’s go out. I know you want to see the latest blockbuster and go for a stroll around town tonight”.

And just like that, peace is restored, tranquillity reigns and the smile returns to her face.

He was used to reading her mind even when she herself couldn’t.

Between the words we say and don’t

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Between the words we say and those we meant to say, we lose all those that truly matter”. She told him that after they had both calmed down from their last fight.

People tend to say a lot when they’re angry. They now knew that very well. Rage makes you say things that you may not mean, but mostly ones that are exaggerated. Things your mind regurgitates and convinces you that are true.

He tried to make her see how she was driving herself crazy by her own thoughts. How each person drew their own conclusions and saw whatever they wanted to see.

But just like you are the only one who has control of your feelings and your life, they had to eventually see that the only ones and only thing that mattered was what they did for each other, how they behaved to one another and the words they exchanged. Not what anyone else thought or said.

For it is true that sometimes the heart knows a truth the mind does not.

“Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost.” – Khalil Gibran

A social condition

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They called it a condition. He called it honesty. But sometimes it made him seem rude. He couldn’t tell the difference.

He was used to speaking his mind without camouflage or fake kindness. If he didn’t like something he would say it, if he disagreed with someone he would point it out. Simply said, he couldn’t feign politeness in a world filled with people wearing masks.

He wasn’t the one to hide; from anyone or anything. But that often got him into trouble. Because not everyone appreciated the sincerity in which his words were uttered.

His belief was that if people couldn’t handle the truth, they shouldn’t be doing or saying things that were contrary to it.

In fact, he was convinced, that if people followed the norms of proper social conduct, so many fake masks would not be necessary.

But that was simply his thoughts. He lacked tact but that did not make him any less of a person than anyone pretending to be his friend.

If you left…

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You told me that if you left, it would be because something made you; some higher force pushed you through the door. But I don’t believe that is possible. I am convinced that the actions we do are the result of our conscious decisions. We are the ones controlling what we do. Our behaviour stems from ourselves, our thoughts and our inner peace.

You told me you were suffocating. That you couldn’t continue like this. I held you in my arms and assured you I was here, I wasn’t going to go anywhere, we would get through things together and everything would be alright.

You seemed like you believed me. Then. When you fell asleep in my arms and you woke up the next day telling me that it was the calmest sleep you had had for days.

You smiled and the whole room lit up.

I missed your smile. I still do. That cheeky, childish smile that transferred the glow into your eyes. You were genuinely happy with me once. We were genuinely happy.

I always thought ‘together’ would be our happy ending. I never saw anything different. In the planning I made for future endeavours, everything in my life included you. I thought the same was true for you. How could I have been so wrong?

And then you just left. And you took the pieces you broke my heart into with you. I never understood how people could behave so coldly. Perhaps because I could never bring myself to act as such.

And then I sat there blaming myself. I couldn’t understand if the problem was not doing enough for you or rather caring too much.

A few days passed and you returned as if nothing happened. As if you hadn’t broken me. You never told me what happened inside you, if anything. What had occurred during that time. What you were thinking of now.

But I can’t return to how things were. Because it is not the same anymore. Now I’m the one who feels suffocated by my own thoughts, my own unanswered questions. And you still refuse to say anything.

I never understood how someone could just get up and leave. Until now. Sometimes to save yourself you need to let go of everything dragging you down. I gave you my heart and you shred it to pieces. I can no longer feign that did not happen.

I’d never thought I would be the one to leave. But there seems to be nothing else left for me to do.

He left the note on her nightstand and walked out the door.

Cherished buttons

©Jean L. Hays

He didn’t sew often, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t good at it. He knew how to do household chores and would always help his wife whenever possible.

His children looked up to him as the superhero he tried to prove he was. It was amusing when they were young and inspiring when they got older.

It’s what she missed most about him.

She still cherished the jacket they bought together. It held fondly so many memories. But what was most significant about it, is that when the button fell off, he was the one that sew it back on.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Provincial lights

©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Two years had already passed since she decided to leave the city for a provincial town.

She still remembered how much time and anguish she had experienced; her mind a whirlwind of thoughts pecking her brain with all the things that could go right or wrong.

It was hard to change your entire life. To exit the safety of your comfort zone, of everything you are used to and feel comfortable with. But if you don’t, if you never take the leap, you’ll never know where life can take you.

She never regretted having found the courage to alter everything.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Professor-prompts

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“Not everyone can do everything. Because it is as simple a fact that you can’t be good at many things. You can adequately do a lot, but only expertly do a few”.

He clearly remembered his professor’s words since the first day of college.

He was investing time to gain the knowledge required to specialise in one specific sector.

However, in an age of multitasking and in a labour market that sought individuals with a range of skills, he found the prompt contradictory.

How could you focus on one thing alone when the world was asking you to know more?

His professor was the one who offered the reply.

The more specific knowledge you possess, the greater ability you have in comprehending a situation and offering solutions others cannot see”.

He then handed him a quote from a famous scientist. It said: “A smattering of everything is worth little. It is a fallacy to suppose that an encyclopaedic knowledge is desirable. The mind is made strong, not through much learning, but by the thorough possession of something” (Louis Agassiz).

Never stop learning. Seek knowledge on everything and anything. But know what to invest on and specialise on something in particular. That will make you stand out. And it will make you sought-after and marketable”.

Jury duty

©Ted Strutz

What makes a person fit to judge? No matter how much evidence they assess and review, what really gives anyone the right to decide the fate of another?

These were her first thoughts when she received the letter for jury duty. She had to go or faced a heavy fine and someone else would judge her instead.

But really, what gave her the responsibility of criticising another?

In court, the defendant presented his case with a series of old black-and-white photos. Memories of another lifetime no-one else could imagine.

Yet, his outcome was now in the hands of complete strangers.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

An abundance of smiles

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“Smile! It lightens up your soul”. His mother used to say that to him ever since he could remember.

Growing up, he found that there is always a reason to smile. It’s just that we very often overlook them or don’t pay enough attention to everything we should be grateful for.

He found quotes about smiles all over town; things like “a smile is the prettiest thing you can wear”; “smile it’s free” and many others.

He made it a choice to begin every day with a smile. It did make his heart feel lighter.

On his way to work each morning, he would exchange pleasant greetings and abundant smiles with passers-by, regardless if he knew them or not. A smile is contagious and he noticed that even if they weren’t smiling, the people he addressed would almost always depart a little happier.

It was something he passed onto his kin later on: “be helpful; when you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours!”

Just like every other person, he had his own problems, the challenges life threw his way. But he acknowledged that there is no use worrying too much about things that are beyond your control..

In fact, the more you smile at life, the more life will smile back at you.

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