This piece is titled Why Must Everyone Leave
It's around 1,000 words in total.
Why must everyone leave?
Bang. Her head jerked up. She thought she heard something. Her brow furrowed as she strained her ears. Bang. There it was again. She thought her mind was playing tricks. Her brain playing games. Bang. The cigarette fell onto the table. She cursed herself. A memory flashed before her. She was always dropping things. Careless. Clumsy. Accident prone. Her mother had a list of words. She had seen it.
Bang. Louder this time. As if it was getting closer. Bang. She rose to her feet. She pulled her dressing gown tighter. Bang. Louder again. She reached for the door handle. It turned easily. Pain ripped through her. Her hand burned. She looked down at it. The flesh already bubbling from the heat.
Bang. She flinched. As if the sound was right in her ears. Yanking the door open, she stepped over the threshold. The cold hit her. She shivered, the pain in her hand forgotten. Bang. The noise followed her. It echoed. Bouncing off the walls of the courtyard.
“Ello lass. Yer alright?” She turned on the spot. A smile curved her lips. Her neighbour was staring at her. “Rough night?” James asked.
She stepped towards him. “Isn’t it always?” She said. She sat down next to him. A chill ran down her spine. Bang. She tried not to flinch. “What are you doing up?”
“Missus isn’t well,” he said. He put his pipe back in his mouth. Smoke seeped out. “Popped out for some fresh air,” there was a slight pause. “Wasn’t expecting ter see yer.”
She nodded. Her eyes scoured the empty courtyard, she and James’ family shared. Bang. Her hand twitched. The noise was all around her. She glanced out the corner of her eye. James didn’t even flinch. Bang. He just stared into space. Silently sucking on his pipe.
“Ain’t yer lonely in that house all on yer own?” He asked. She watched the smoke. It danced in the starlight. Then suddenly vanished. Bang. She dug her fingernails into her hand. The burning sensation rushed back. She looked down. There was moisture, she could feel it. It was too dark to make out the colour. Bang.
“Not really. I’m hardly there. It’s just somewhere to sleep,” she said. The courtyard stared back at her. Bang. Shadows creeping towards her. Long fingers worming across the concrete. Ready to pounce when she least expected it. “I’m too busy at work to keep a good house,” she said. Bang. Her fingernails slipped on her palm.
“Missus worries about yer,” he said. She watched a long puff of smoke twist in the stars. Bang. She flinched. “Thinks yer need lookin’ after,” he moved the pipe and switched hands. She sniffed quietly. “Often asks me if I’ve seen yer out with a chap,” he said.
A laugh left her lips. James turned his head. His eyes wide with shock. It was bitter. “I don’t think so James,” she said. There was a crack in the middle of the courtyard. Next to the water pump. Water pooled around it. It caught the moon light and shimmered silver. Bang. As if someone was shouting in her ears. Or firing a gun. But there was no flash. No body hitting the concrete. No scream of pain. Only in her head. Always in her head. Bang.
“Missus told me ter tell yer,” he said. They both turned their heads. Her eyes locked with his. “Wanted yer ter know before anyone. Yer know how it is. Round ‘ere ‘specially,” he said. He turned his attention back to his pipe. Her stomach lurched. Her hand was burning. Was it on fire? Bang. “We’re movin’ lass,” he said.
The world stopped. Everything paused. It was as if they were in their own little bubble. The world was motionless. Bang. “What do you mean, you’re moving?” she said. Was that her voice? It didn’t sound like hers. It sounded like a child’s. “You can’t move,” she said. Yes it was definitely a child’s voice. She was scared. Frightened. Why must everyone leave her? Everyone she ever loved and cared about. They all abandoned her. Bang. It started with her parents. They left her at boarding school and drove off, disappeared. How terrified she was, only ten years old. Everything she ever known was gone. History was repeating itself. Always repeating. Bang.
“We’re not leavin’ yet lass. It’ll be a few months. We’ve only recently decided it,” he said. The smoke was becoming thinner. It was almost transparent. Bang. “Course we’ll keep yer up ter date. We’d love yer ter visit. Once we’ve found somewhere and settled in. Yer’re always welcome lass,” he said. James rose to his feet. He tipped the remaining ash into a pot. It tumbled in silently. She felt him lay a hand on her shoulder. “Pop round tomorrow after work,” he said. “Goodnight Connie.” Bang. His hand fell to his side.
She stood up. Her feet carried her back into the house. The door slammed behind her. Bang. Her head hit the pillow. Why must everyone leave her? Throughout her childhood she never had any friends. People stayed away from her. Was there something wrong with her? There’s nothing wrong with you Connie. Bang. Yet, no one stays. No one cares. She could die tomorrow, nobody would notice she existed.
She curled into a tight ball. It relieved the pain. Bang. She woke with a start. Sweat dripping down her forehead. Her hands fisted the sheets. They were tangled round her. She was fighting herself. History was repeating itself. She swung her legs out of bed. The cool air embraced her. She took gulps of it, her heart slowed a fraction. She had the most awful dream. She dreamt she shot someone. She dreamt she shot James. She shot him for leaving her. Just like she had shot the others. Now they wouldn’t ever be parted from her.
It was only a dream. She eased herself back down. Only a dream. She turned her head, her chest heaving with adrenaline.
She closed her eyes. She willed sleep to take her. She had to be up in a few hours for work. A sigh left her lips as she stretched out. Her hand brushed against something metal. It was warm to the touch. Her breathing became laboured with anger. She kicked it. The gun fell to the floor with a heavy thud. She turned over and burrowed under the sheets.
“It was his fault,” she whispered to the darkness. “He deserved it. They all deserved it.”