MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “short stories”

Frames intact

© Mikhael Sublett

“What do you see?”

He took the picture and examined it.

“Destruction”.

“Why?” she pressed.

“Just look at the ruins on the floor. The crumbled wall, the pieces apart. Broken fragments of what they once were.”

“What do you think that represents?”

“Human relationships”, he uttered. “They break in an instant and it’s both frightening and tragic that someone you once couldn’t imagine your life without can become a complete stranger”.

He pushed away a tear.

“But look closer. Don’t you see the frame lying almost intact? It’s simply upside-down but unscratched. Life is what we chose to focus on”.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Travelling stories to tell

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When things got rough, they used to just leave. Together. They would travel to someplace new, to fill their hearts with adventure and their minds with enthrallment at how vast our world truly is. They believed that travelling – by car, motorbike, train, airplane, boat, whatever means available according to the destination – opened a person’s heart, broadened their minds and filled them with stories to tell. And they had many.

But lately, they became alienated from each other. And consequently from all the things they did together.

She was always excited when travelling with him, because he became almost a different person; someone more relaxed, more serious, yet thoughtful at the same time. He became the person she fell in love with. As if breaking the bonds that held him captive to his daily routine liberated him into becoming a better version of himself.

He loved travelling with her because it lit up a spark in her eyes; she let out a childish enthusiasm and reminded him all over why he fell in love with her in the first place.

Now, they travelled in different directions.

She went to places that were new to her, where they had never been before together.

He, on the contrary, went to all the same, where they had.

Because one wanted to forget. And the other to always remember.

Words left unsaid

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He had walked out a month ago, but still had his keys. The keys to the home they built together, the one that would house their common dreams.

They hadn’t spoken since.

She didn’t know what he was doing, where he was, what he worked on, how he was feeling. She only had her viewpoint. And that was biased.

It was pitch black outside when she got up. Even the lights had all been turned off. It was the usual hour she felt forced out of bed, too tormented by nightmares to remain lying there trying to sleep.

She took a pen and paper, rarely nowadays abandoning her keyboard, and this meant it was too important to type. It had to be handwritten to reflect the emotion it contained.

At night, when I can’t sleep, I write to you. Letters, I’ll never send and you’ll probably never read. But it helps me calm down during the nights I’m tortured by the thoughts in my head. When the chaos inside me overwhelms and devours me. I write to tell you what you can’t seem to hear from me. I write in an effort to make you understand. To make you see that even a dragon hides a frightened mouse inside. That sometimes all you need is the reassurance and certainty of having someone next to you at all times, no matter what and above everything and everyone else. I thought that was you. Not to heal me. You wouldn’t do that. But to help me heal myself. Love won’t heal wounds. The feeling of safety and being loved no matter what, who and when, is what makes a person stronger. What helps them heal themselves.

You were supposed to stick around for the hard times too, not just the good ones.

We were supposed to grow stronger together, to grow with each other, helping one another to develop into the best person they can be. We were supposed to form a unit as one – a force to reckon with, a single corps against the world. We were supposed to be ‘us’. A power couple. We were supposed to be allies to one another. Not to demolish each other, ripping ourselves apart from the inside. We were supposed to close each other’s scars, not create new ones.

Yet despite everything – all the words said, all the actions done (or not) – I still wait for you. In the sounds of daily life, in the phone calls that ring, the doors that knock, I longingly hope it will be you. I see you in every single thing that reminds me of you. I still hope you’ll come into my darkness and turn on the light. The light that faded and is now lost. My light that I allowed to be extinguished.

Yet you never do.

That itself should be a sign. Just like all those things we didn’t do: the trips we never went on, the plans we never followed through. All signs. An answer to all the ‘whys’ that won’t let my mind rest.

Yet I still wait. Hoping even now for something to change. Because hope is all we have left.

In the morning, she booked a plane ticket and left. That same afternoon, he used his keys again.

People like handcrafted plates

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“Sit. Take this plate. Look at it closely. Examine it. What do you see?”

“It’s decorated,” Jill replied, her young age obstructing her perspective.

“What more?” her aunt pressed.

“It’s colourful. Artfully decorated. It seems handcrafted. And there are so many details. You need to look closely to see them. To appreciate them”.

“Good. Now throw it down”.

Jill glared at her aunt.

“What?”

“Throw the plate down”.

“But…but, it will break”, she uttered, scared.

“That’s the point”.

Jill let the plate go, reluctantly. It fell onto the ground and broke into numerous pieces of all sizes.

“Pick it up and try to place the pieces back together”.

Jill tried, but there were many smaller pieces that had fractured and were too small to find or stick back together.

“Now what do you see?”

“It’s broken,” Jill sighed, genuinely saddened.

“It’s not the same. It’s not as beautiful. You can see the cracks and even if it is glued, they will still be evident. And the colour seems almost faded because of it”.

“Isn’t it still the same plate, though?”

“I guess”. The little girl seemed perplexed.

“People are like this handcrafted plate,” her aunt finally explained the meaning of this exercise. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. You need to look closely to see all those details that make each person special. But people, contrary to objects, have feelings. If they are pushed aside for too long, like a plate on the edge of a counter, they will fall and break. And once they do, they will carry the scars within them. No matter how much they try to pull themselves back together, to survive and go on, the scars will remain, perhaps faded, but they are still there. Time won’t heal them; it will just make it easier to live with them”.

Jill stared, listening attentively to every word.

“Always be kind to everyone you meet. You don’t know what scars each person hides. And treat people as softly and sympathetically as you would want to be treated. Not everyone sees the world the same way, but kindness is universal”.

Searching for allies in our head

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It was a cold, winter day with north winds howling through the window. The cold crept indoors, no matter how tightly shut the airways were.

He was moaning about how freezing it was even inside.

She had her mind elsewhere to pay too much attention. It was just the start of winter; more cold would surely follow.

Each person has random things hovering inside their mind. Things that grasp their attention at times when they should be focused on something or someone else. But we don’t know about them unless they are shared with us. Unless that someone else lets us into their mind, and on condition that we are empathetic enough to understand how and why whatever the problem is, is causing so much concern to the person next to us.

We are all different. It is inevitably so. And as such, we don’t all view the world in the same way. Problems we see as “end of the world”-type disasters, to someone else may be negligible mishaps. It is difficult to find people who share our point of view, our perspective, let alone our values. The meaning of “important” is not the same for everyone. That is why it is often challenging to explain what it is that is draining our energy and our mental health.

And that is why people often choose to bury themselves in a shell, rather than speak out. Because it is easier to shy away than try to make others understand.

He left, once again, as he always did when he couldn’t – or didn’t want to – understand her.

Just an hour later, the central heating in the building was turned on, presenting a strong ally against the cold.

Storage surprise

©J Hardy Carroll

It took them almost a week to plan their way into the storage room. They had to find a method of entry that couldn’t be traced back to them. And a time of day when they wouldn’t be seen.

They entered during the early hours of a stormy and thunderous night.

But what they found, was not what they expected to see.

The wooden locked closet-like doors of the room made what they stored even more intriguing.

But it also meant spending more time inside in order to acquire what they were after.

They hoped it would be worth it.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

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.

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