Posted in Short Stories

The Scent of Betrayal

James got out of the car and as he slammed the door shut, it was then that he saw a bunch of sunflowers on the doorstep of his house. He clenched his fists until he could feel his fingernails digging into his palms and he glowered at them, as they rested on the doorstep outside the front door, like a polite but very much unwelcomed trespasser waiting to be invited into his house. He looked down at the card, sitting audaciously amongst the petals, addressed to his wife from somebody else. 

My Anna, thinking of you  x

In one mighty swoop, he crouched down to grab the flowers, unlocked the crimson front door and carried them like his hostage, into the house. As he stormed through the house, his blood continued to boil, the heat searing through his tensed body. 

“Who the hell was sending flowers to my wife?” he thought. 

He reached the kitchen, paused at the black granite kitchen island before throwing the flowers onto it and resting his hands on the cold, smooth top; his broad and heavy shoulders rose and descended in resentment. He slammed a fist on the kitchen top, feeling no pain from the violent connection between flesh and hard surface. As the intruding floral scent hit him, he pulled his phone out of his trouser pocket and clicked on the icon with his wife’s smiling face, a spasm of pain making him grimace.

As the call went unanswered, he looked back at Anna’s face, which continued to smile tauntingly at him. The ringing on the other end eventually stopped so he ended the call before he could hear Anna’s voicemail greeting – to hear her voice would be too tormenting –  and he swiftly wrote out a quick message to her: 

Some guy sends his love. You better fucking call me back ASAP

He pressed send and overcome with defeat, tossed his phone onto the kitchen island, watching it slide across the gleaming surface and fall off the cliff-like edge of the other side of the island. The crash of the phone hitting the tiles, forced him out of his trance and he began to pace around the kitchen before he collapsed onto one of the black wooden stools at the island. He began to weep. 

Through his sobs, he tried to pinpoint the moment Anna might have decided that he was no longer enough for her. 

He was recalled back to this very morning. They had argued last night: she always seemed to stay late at work and it angered him to see her spending more and more time with her colleagues and less and less time with him. And when she was at home, she was tired and subdued. He didn’t like to be alone knowing that she was in the company of other people instead of him, her husband, and he didn’t like it that she was too lost in herself when she was at home to need him and give him the attention he so craved from her. She was too independent. 

When she had finally came home, it was past 11 p.m He was livid and waiting in the kitchen for her return. They argued into the early hours; she couldn’t understand why he was so jealous and he couldn’t understand why she refused to understand how her attention directed elsewhere and away from him made him feel neglected. As the argument fizzled out and they slept on the opposite edges of the same bed, he lay with his thoughts and soon saw his fault. He barely slept at all, burdened by guilt and fear that this time he had gone too far and he laid on his side of the bed quilted in loneliness. The next morning, he had crept downstairs into the kitchen and proceeded to make Anna an apology breakfast. He wanted her to awaken to the smell of croissants and coffee. He’d also made fresh orange and mango juice – her two favourite fruits – and set everything up on the kitchen island, before perching on a stool waiting for her to descend. He knew that the pleasant scent would entice her towards him, so that he could welcome her into his arms and apologise for his short fuse. He loved the feel of her soft arms wrapped around his thick neck. As he had whispered sensuous apologies into her ear, he had convinced himself that they were over another hurdle and she was his once more. 

He was then snapped out of his reverie by the intruding image of Anna’s arms being wrapped around another man’s neck. 

“Who was this guy? Where had she met him? What made this guy a better man than me? Why did she prefer to be with him and not with me?” he thought. 

He needed answers.

The bunch of flowers still lay beside him on the granite top; he wondered, if he closed his eyes whether they would disappear or not. If he closed his eyes, would he be able to turn back time, before pulling up in his car outside to find this floral betrayal on his doorstep? He took some deep breaths, slowly and reluctantly unclenching his fists with each exhale. 

He decided to wait for Anna to come home and remained perched on the stool, at the granite kitchen island, glaring accusingly at the bunch of flowers. His rigid, almost motionless posture hurt every muscle in his body and barely blinking as he continued to stare at the sunflowers burned his eyes. But to him, the pain and discomfort was nothing compared to the pain caused by Anna’s betrayal. The afternoon light slowly gave way to the darkness of early evening, turning James into a looming silhouette. 

Hours later, he finally heard the keys in the front door, announcing Anna’s arrival, then heard her soft footsteps dancing through the hallway towards the kitchen. 

“Babe, why are you sitting in the dark again?” Anna asked. 

She switched on the light. He answered only with a glare, ready to demand the answers he deserved. But then she was distracted by the flowers between them. 

Anna walked towards them before retrieving the card from the sunflowers. 

As she smiled, he prepared himself for his explosion. 

“I can’t believe mum sent me flowers. She’s so sweet!” Anna gushed. 

Posted in Blog, Short Stories

The Label [Flash Fiction]

She turned the label over in her hands; the white background illuminated the handwritten dark font printed on its face. It had been attached to her bag, perhaps as she was walking through the dense corridors of school. Focussed on getting from one classroom to another with as much speed as her legs could carry her five-foot four-inch body, she guessed she hadn’t noticed anybody pinning the label onto her backpack.

She turned it back over as tears began to run down her cherub cheeks, then into her lap. As she was hiding in the haven of the girls’ toilets, nobody could hear her crying out in pain; the knife of humiliation stabbed her in the chest as her heart broke for the girl she would never be. She would never be like the other girls: slim with long legs and pert bums perfect for their skinny jeans; small, delicate chests, perfectly made for their boyfriend’s t-shirts. As she sobbed even harder, the stale smell of the school toilet became drowned out by the grief of a first romance she had not been privy to. Her heavy chest heaved over her round stomach; as she hugged her chest closer to her, she imagined herself in the arms of another she had not yet had; bitter tears kissed her virgin lips.

She turned the label back around, to read the cruel words one final time: “lard arse”. As she meditated on those words, her devastation transformed into anger; her thoughts of helplessness became foundations for a plan of action.

A plan for revenge.

 

© Cece Alex Noel, 2018