Posts Tagged ‘relationships’


Writing prompt image provided by the good people at Happy Square Studio

The world is watching. We stand on an outcrop of rocks at the edge of a wood with red lanterns woven through the branches. The world is waiting and they cannot look away. They will watch me disappear, my back melting into the wall of trees. I pause, straining to catch movement in the space between the trunks. I don’t know if I can do this. I hear Miles exhale, his breath mingles with the murmur of the party behind us.

He reads the list in his hand saying, “There’s nothing here about how long this is supposed to take.”

“Roger is going to time us while we’re searching. He said the game doesn’t end until we find all the items on that list.”

“Always the despot.”

“We can just grab a few and call it a night,” I say and he looks at me. His smile is crooked and the wind ruffles his dark hair.

“Let’s just see how this turns out,” he says.

I don’t need to glance over my shoulder to see his brother shift his feet in impatience. Miles takes my hand. “Ignore them,” he says. “Keep your lantern up. We’ll be in and out in no time.” We start walking and it’s abundantly clear that we are not light of foot. Twigs and dry leaves snap in our wake, and my heart strains to keep pace with our steps. Steady now. Always steady.  It’s nearly time for the sky to blush with the first touch of morning. I look up, hoping to glimpse a familiar cluster of stars, but can’t see anything through the red.

“Tell me again why we didn’t stay home tonight?” I say.

“We are wild and social creatures, Olivia. Plus we were hungry.”

“Traipsing around in the woods past midnight in exchange for free food? I don’t know who wins in this situation.”

“You weren’t complaining during cake.”

“Roger knows my many weaknesses,” I say.

“Not as well as I do,” says Miles.

I turn to him, crumpling my mouth in mock despair. His eyes soften and I feel his thumb tracing my fingers.

“Want me to carry the lamp?” he says.

“I’m no damsel in distress.”

“Not even if your arm starts cramping up?”

“Then I may or may not concede.”

Miles stops for a beat, pointing at a blue ribbon fluttering feebly around a branch. Roger has no imagination. We contemplate who gets to climb and who stays on solid ground.

“There could be bears,” Miles teases, putting me at ease.

I toss my head back, laughing, and climb the tree. Bark flakes under my hands and I think of being swallowed by the earth and rising, taller, with time winding around my limbs. When I’m back, standing beside Miles, I hand him our first prize. He ties it around my wrist. The lamplight pools at our feet, causing our shadows to twine through the grass and fallen leaves, until we cannot tell where we end and a tree begins.


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When Caroline stepped out of the bus and onto the concrete of the deserted bus station, her arms laden with bags full of her overnight things, a wedding gift, her dress and shoes, the sun was already sinking into the earth. She looked about her and walked to a bench to rest her arms. She pulled out her phone and called a taxi.

“Hello? Hi I’m waiting at the Aurora Road bus station and need to be picked up.”

“What time?” the voice on the other end asked her.

“Um, now?” she said and pushed her hair behind her ears.

“It’ll take twenty minutes to get there.”

Her shoulders sagged. “That’s fine.”

Caroline put her phone in her bag and sat on the bench. She took off her suit jacket and folded it neatly, placing it carefully upon her bags. She pulled out a book and felt the breeze brush her hair against her cheeks. She pushed it away with her fingers. It was quiet at the bus station. There were cars passing by on the highway in front of her. She wondered how long these couple of days was going to be. All she wanted to do was go home, take her shoes off, change into a pair of pants and sit on the couch, drinking something hot and caffeinated. The wedding was tomorrow. She was supposed to be the maid of honour, but she didn’t feel like one at the moment. Sitting there, alone, with her feet aching and her stomach rumbling something fierce, she felt more like a girl than anything else. Her phone rang and she rummaged in her purse for it.


“Hi mom.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m at the station now.”

“Is anyone picking you up?”

“No I called a taxi.”

Her mother swore. “I told you that you should have called Susan. If she’s any sort of friend at all, she’d want to pick you up.”

“She’s busy.”

“You’re only one person, Caroline. I don’t know why you decided to go in the first place. They don’t need you there.”

Caroline laughed softly to herself, pushing her hair out of her face but said nothing.

“Did you eat?” her mother asked her.

“Yes,” she lied.

“Caroline,” her mother said sternly, seeing through her lie. “Did you eat.”

Caroline paused and clutched at her stomach.

“No,” she said in a quiet voice.

“Caroline!” her mother’s voice rose, “I’ve told you so many times. You have to look after yourself. You have to eat. It’s your body and you should be concerned about it.”

“I am concerned,” Caroline said picking at something underneath her nail with a finger.

“Is there anything around you?” her mother asked her.

“No, it’s just the station, but we’re going to have dinner when I get there.”


“It should be soon. Around eight,” Caroline said looking about her, searching for any sign of a taxi. She hoped it was soon. She wondered if there was any time to stop by a Starbucks for a coffee and something to nibble on. A taxi drove down the street and pulled into the station.

“Hey, mom? I have to go. The taxi is here.”

“Is it?”

“Yeah,” Caroline said, gathering her things and standing. She signaled to the driver and he slowly drove towards her.

“Okay, be safe, darling. Text me when you get there.”

“I will. By mom, love you.”

Caroline hung up and put her phone in her bag, turning the volume down. She opened door at the back seat of the car and the driver swiveled to look at her. Caroline smiled nervously.

“Get in,” he said.

She threw her stuff on the other side and slid onto the seat, shutting the door behind her with a snap. She gave the driver the address.

“I know where that is,” he said.

Caroline nodded and settled down. She felt his eyes on her in the rearview mirror and she fussed with her seat belt.

“Fancy party?” he asked as he punched a few buttons with a swollen finger.

“Oh, no. It’s a wedding. I’m going to the rehearsal.”

The driver raised his brows. “Congratulations,” he said.

Caroline blushed sweetly saying, “No, it’s not me. It’s a friend of mine.”


Caroline looked out the window and watched the trees go by. She pulled at the ends of her skirt, trying to cover her thighs.

“Don’t do that,” the driver said.

“I’m sorry?” Caroline said, looking up at him and he was staring at her through the rearview mirror again. Her hand reached for her purse and the phone in it. The taxi turned into a narrow path where the cluster of trees was thick and gnarled. The light was green and growing dim around her. Caroline heard the crunch of stone and squelch of mud as the taxi slowly came to a stop. Her breath quickened and she tried to stop her voice from trembling as she said, “Is this—is this the place?”

The driver unbuckled his seatbelt and turned to her.

“Yes,” he said quietly. “This is the place.”


It was nearly past midnight when Linda heard the key in the lock. She pushed the hair out of her eyes and shuffled to the kitchen to warm up a plate of food. Dave stepped in, hanging his hat and coat on the hook by the door. He grunted as he bent to untie his shoes.

“You’re late,” Linda said.

“I had a few more stops to make,” Dave said running a hand through his hair and walking into the kitchen. He leaned over to give Linda a kiss on her cheek. “Did you eat?” he said as he turned on the faucet and ran his hands under the water.

“Of course I did, you ninny. It’s nearly midnight. I’ll have a little something with you if you want.”

“Nah,” Dave said wincing a little as he lathered the soap on his hands. “Just sit by me. You won’t sleep if you eat now.”

Linda shuffled to the table and put his plate down. She went back to the kitchen for some cutlery. “Did you have a good run?” she said.

“It was fine.” He poured himself a glass of water and drank deeply. The beads spilled past the corner of his mouth, ran down his neck and slipped past his collar. He scrubbed at them with the palm of his hand, smearing a trail across his skin.

“What’s that?” Linda said.

“What’s what?”

“That there, on your hand.”

Linda made to grab it but Dave pulled away. “It’s nothing,” he said. “ Just a scratch from the car.”

Linda took his hand anyway and examined it. There was an angry red welt that creased a jagged line down the back of his hand and across the thick ropes of blue veins. Linda noticed another similar scratch that etched across his jugular. She tsked.

“That car. You tell Abe if his cab is giving you any trouble. He’s supposed to be the one fussing over it, not you. It’s his company, you know.”

Dave chuckled and shook his head. “That’s not how it works, babe,” he said.

Linda huffed and dragged him to the table. “You sit. I’ll get something to put on that.”

She went upstairs. Dave shifted his feet under the table and rested his hands on his knees. He eyes grew dull as he stared as his plate. He heard Linda calling to him from their bedroom and he blinked.

“What?” he said. “I can’t hear you!”

“I said I’ll call Abe in the morning. Give him a piece of what’s for.”

“Linda, don’t. I’ll talk to him.”

Linda came back down the stairs with a tube of polysporin and a q-tip. “You always say that,” she said, “and you always come home with something or other. A scratch here, a bruise there.” She took his hand and started applying the plaster.

“Davey, I’m telling you it’s not right.”

Dave sighed, “And I’m telling you to let me be. I’ll deal with it on my own, babe.”

Linda said nothing. She dabbed at his neck.

“You finished? That stuff smells good and I haven’t eaten since lunchtime.”

“Good lord. I packed a snack for you. Didn’t you eat it?”

“Yes, ma’m.”

“You can’t go hungry, babe,” she said. “You have to look after yourself.”

“I do.”

“No, you try, and I’m the one patching you up. Go on then, eat before it gets cold.”

Dave started to eat. Linda sat beside him and watched his hands. She opened her mouth to say something but stopped herself and rubbed her hands instead. Then she yawned widely. The clock and Dave’s chewing were the only sounds in the room. Outside the moon was full and the sky was clear and somewhere a woman lay strewn under the brush, while the wind blew her hair into her face.

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Dear Jane,
words seep
swelling delicately around
bone smelling faintly of
soft lumber
that sinks and
slips through rose water skin,
black beetle hair
I grasp while you slumber.

Glass streaks and splays
colours thick and dark
and your cries,
and brass
like her lipstick
smearing my door

Dear John,
You let me down
onto a bridge where our
mothers conceived breaking rubber
maid dolls in the spring of
last winter
you wrote my name in a
wrought iron cage
kissing softly
my shoulder saying:
my blood, my heart, my soul
yours to dismember.

You contend her
You remember
Please be tender.

To all the girls he’s loved
To all the girls he’ll love
To all the girls you love:
Don’t wait
too long
to long.

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“Do you know how much I love you?” he said and she looked up from her notebook, surprised to see him leaning with an elbow perched on the kitchen counter, fingers and thumbs idly rotating a clementine.
She blinked and suppressed a smile.
“I would say a lot.”
He shook his head, fingers digging into the orange skin, delving through its rubbery surface.
“I’d say more than a lot.”
“So tons?” she asked, her focus back onto the notebook in her lap.
He peeled away the layers and laid them on the counter.
“Loads is more than tons?”
“Naturally,” he said, pushing a slice past his lips.
And here she allowed the smile to soften the edges and brighten the cheeks.
“Is loads big enough for you to be a pal and pass an orange?”
He continued to stare at her in that unsettling way of his and said, “Loads is big enough to make me hand you a mountain of oranges if you asked for it.”
“What if I just want one orange?”
“Yeah, clementines are much smaller.”
He finished his share and went on to peel himself another one.
“Are you going to hand me one or not?”
“Did you want an orange or a clementine?”
She tossed her pen at him in answer but instead of catching it deftly like she expected him to, he ducked.
“Now look what you made me do,” she said.
“You should have chosen the pillow.”
“But the pillow does less damage.”
“Not if you throw it properly.”
“And how many ways are there to throw a pillow?”
He opened his mouth to answer and she shut her eyes against it saying, “No, don’t answer that. I only wanted a clementine.”
“You never asked nicely.”
“Because the moment is gone.”

She looked down at her notebook. At the words scrawled hurriedly on the page then back up at him. His frame was tilted against the counter.
“At least get me something to write with,” she said.
He frowned and rummaged in his pockets with fingers sticky and stained. Walking up to her, he took her hand in his and placed a small green pencil on her upturned palm.
“What is this?”
“It’s something to write with.”
“I can’t use a pencil. I asked for a pen.”
“You asked for something to write with so I gave you something.”
Her hand closed over the object and she looked up at him.
“I thought you said you loved me.”
He nodded at her fist as if plaintively saying, ‘what’s that then?’
“This isn’t love.”
“It’s all I’ve got.”
They fell silent and for a moment she stared at the page and the unfinished sentence. The faint gray would look garish paired with the blue. She was sure of it. Nonetheless, she took the pencil between her finger and thumb and pressed the tiny thing onto the page. It made a dull scratching sound on the paper that had a strange lulling effect on her senses. And so she finished the sentence:

And in the end, and without much protest, it slipped past his grasp like water.

She sighed and looked at the line feeling as if something was missing. He was sitting beside her now. That strong scent of citrus wafted past her nostrils and enveloped her, much like an arm encircling her waist. He pulled another clementine from his pocket and began tearing away at it in that fine, delicate fashion of his. She put a hand on his arm, fingers smudged with ink and lead, making him pause in his work. He looked at her steadily, as if waiting for the words to flow very much like water.

“You love me,” she said in a sort of half question half statement and he nodded, his mouth working in an effort to describe just how much.
She slipped her hand into his.
“Your fingers are sticky from the orange.”
She nodded and he pushed a slice past her lips.

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“Can I ask you a question?”

Olivia looked up from her glass. “Yeah, sure. Go for it.”

“I hope it’s not too personal.”

“Won’t know until you ask.”

“Right. Yeah. Now you don’t have to answer this. I’m just curious. And it’s not that I’m trying to pry or anything.”

“Just ask the question, Marley.”

“Do you believe in love at first sight?”

Olivia blinked. “What?”

“Do you believe in-”

“No, I know the question. I’m just a little stunned that you hesitated to ask.”


“No no don’t apologize. It’s fine. It’s a perfectly okay question.” Olivia paused and stared at the contents in her glass. Green clouds swirled and rippled in the afternoon sun. “Do I believe in love at first sight,” she repeated, leaning forward in her chair, propping her elbows on the table.

“I’d like to say yes. I’d like to say sure there is such a thing. Two people experiencing a moment of intense attraction. A moment where they’re so finely aware of each other. It’s romantic and dreamlike and everything is just so fucking evanescent it’s perfect. The perfect moment. That perfect person. There can not be any other for you besides the one you see now. Right there. Sitting across from you, or, or standing at the other end of the room.”

She was staring at her hands now. Her long fingers folded neatly upon each other and just at the edge of her vision sat a knife and fork wrapped tightly in a cloth as green as the swirling mess in her glass.

“I’d like for it to exist I guess, but if you think about it, isn’t that idea just a little lonely?”

Now it was Marley’s turn to cock his head in interest. “How?” he said.

“How?” Olivia repeated more so to the cutlery than to her friend. “How. Well it can be an idea that out of everyone in the world there’s only one person out there who is meant exclusively for you. There is no one else so all of those relationships, all of those what ifs were pointless and a waste of time because it wasn’t love at first sight and someone can go through life just waiting for that other person to come along and sweep her off her feet with a catch of an eye or a glancing smile. You know?”

“I think you’re mixing fate and soul mates in here, Olivia.” said Marley stabbing at his fries with a ketchup stained fork.

“No, it’s all the same.”

Marley shook his head emphatically. “Nope. Love at first sight hits you hard in the gut right when you step up to the plate. First contact. First blood. It’s all a rush and just like that you’re gone. Just because you fall in love with someone instantly doesn’t make you set for marriage. You just click. There’s something about her that attracts you and you share this…” his eyes drifted to a spot behind Olivia’s head in thought. “this, this deep rooted connection.”

“Doesn’t that make this guy your soul mate?” said Olivia.

“It doesn’t have to. You can fall in love with plenty of people and still not have a solid future in store.”

“That’s disheartening.”

“Are we getting off topic?”


They fell silent, both left to their thoughts, chewing their food.

“Hey, Olivia?”


“Have you ever been in love?”

“Are we still on the first sight thing?”

“No. Just in general.”

Olivia took a sip of her drink and a fry from Marley’s plate.

“I don’t know,” she said.

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