I have several short stories from my creative writing courses that I have not read for a long time. My intention is to submit some to magazines, but in the meantime I will put some in here.
The first one is called Evil Residents and is loosely based on a real life murder so if you prefer Mills and Boon, I advise against reading. The character names are purely fictional and are no way connected to the real case.
I wish I had got round to shaving my legs last week. Seeing those pale, fuzzy shins on display was embarrassing. I want Richard to cover them, but he’s in the bathroom washing his hands. The sickly sweet scent of Dove soap fills the room. I didn’t think I would be able to smell once I was dead.
Most people say blood smells like metal. It reminds me of soil, leaves and grit. That’s where my body will be going. Into a wooden box and buried in the ground. I don’t feel dead but I can see my lips turning blue and my face is a pale grey. I lie in a coagulated pool of crimson, my black hair stuck to my cheeks by the drying blood. I’m trying not to look lower, at my nakedness or the bruising evidence of a violent end.
Richard returns looking remarkably normal. He walks around my body, then leans over to the bed and pulls the duvet over my face. For a moment I’m surprised that I can still see. As he walks away, he leaves a trail of red footprints on the laminate floor. He picks my handbag up and tips the contents out on to the bed, glancing at me as he is making sure I can’t see.
‘You don’t mind if I borrow a few quid, do you?’ I wish I could slap him, but I have no form. He picks up my mobile and stuffs it into his trouser pocket. He takes the cash and bank cards from my purse, and my keys. I make a note to change the locks.
Pulling out some drawers, he throws my underwear across the room, giving a low laugh as he does so. I notice grey granny pants have landed next to my hand. Instinctively I reach out to pick them up but my body doesn’t react. There is no connection to me anymore.
‘You asshole.’ My voice rebounds around the void I am in. He’s rummaging in my jewellery box now, pocketing the necklace my father bought me for my 18th birthday. He looks around my room one last time and blows me a kiss. I watch him pull the door shut, his footsteps disappearing into the flat downstairs. That’s where I met Richard. I wish I hadn’t.
It’s hard to believe it was only 4 hours ago. The lads in the basement were holding their usual video night. Armed with copious amounts of lager and Doritos, my flatmate Anna and I arrived at their door. Anna had a thing for Rob. She had spent hours fussing with her hair. In the end, I had put it up in a French plait for her and spritzed it with some Diamond Shine. She looked elegant, but had not had the good grace to thank me.
The door was open when we arrived. The flat was mirror of ours, but a lot messier. It didn’t have a woman’s touch. No pictures hung on the wall and there were no ornaments.
Rob was a huge Metallica fan and a pot-head. He grew marijuana plants in the bath and supplied drugs to all sorts of weirdos. Richard was one of them.
It was the first and only time I would ever meet him. He was slouched in an armchair, blowing smoke rings and watching them rise gently. A couple of light bulbs had blown, so the yellow light from the kitchen was the only illumination. Plates, empty beer cans and chip wrappers covered the worktops and the sink was full of dirty dishes. Beneath the stifling fumes of beer and smoke, there was the smell of rotting food and stale water. I wanted to throw a window open.
I sat on the rug with my back to the mess and cracked open a can. I felt my shoulders relax as I swallowed the cold, sweet lager. Someone was sat in the faded blue armchair in the corner. As he passed me a joint, his eyes scanned me quickly. I didn’t normally smoke, but since I had moved in last month, it had become a ritual every weekend. I took a long drag and handed it back, stifling a cough. I wasn’t very good at being bad. My father would be mortified if he knew how I spent my weekends.
‘You must be Emma.’
I smiled at him and nodded. He didn’t blink as he watched me take another swig of lager. He waited patiently as a searched for a topic of conversation.
‘I am. You are…?’
‘Richard. I play footy at the park with Rob.’ His t-shirt fitted tightly around his arms and his chest was smooth. If he hadn’t had such beady eyes, he would have been good-looking.
‘We live upstairs.’ I indicated to Anna, who was snuggled on the sofa with Rob. She giggled quietly and I watched as Rob’s hand stroked her back underneath her pale pink shirt, which I recognised as mine. Her plait was already loose, wild strands of her hay coloured hair spilling out.
‘Are you at UWE?’ I couldn’t place his face. I hadn’t seen him round here before, but he was strangely familiar.
‘I’m between jobs. I’ve seen your friend at Le Chic.’ Anna worked there on Thursday nights. Her boss rarely paid her on time, but she relied on the money for food. My parents sent money to my bank every Friday, so I often loaned her a few notes. I rarely got it back. I didn’t really need it, but that wasn’t the point.
His eyes lingered as he watched them for longer than was appropriate. I turned again to see Rob’s hand on Anna’s breast. Richard was still watching them. I couldn’t stand it anymore. He was obviously getting a kick out of watching them. ‘Rob. Put the film on before you get carried away.’ Anna scowled at me as Rob peeled himself away. He retrieved a DVD from his backpack – Resident Evil: Extinction. It wasn’t even at the cinema yet. They had their sources for everything.
We all settled down to watch. The boys made crude jokes about Milla Jovovich and I tried not to close my eyes at the blood and gore. I gave a little yelp when some zombies burst out from a crate. Richard took the opportunity to slide down next to me and handed me another joint. I hesitated for a moment. I didn’t want him to get the wrong impression. ‘No thanks.’ I sat up a bit straighter and finished my lager. He stretched out beside me and sat blowing smoke my way. I waved it away.
‘I’m just sharing,’ he said. He made me feel uneasy, being so close to me. It was too familiar.
‘I just need to use the loo,’ I whispered and sneaked out to the bathroom. I closed the door and flicked the bolt, just in case. The plants in the bath swayed happily in the draft caused by my haste. I had drunk a few cans and the smoke was making me a little dizzy. I felt a bit queasy. I’d skipped lunch and my Doritos for tea had not been enough. I needed to sleep.
Anna was back on the sofa with Rob when I returned. I nudged her arm to wake her.
‘I’m heading back. Are you coming?’
‘Hmmm. Yeah. OK.’ She gave Rob a lingering kiss and raised her hand. I pulled her up and we headed outside and up the concrete stairs. The lights had been left on and it was just as well. We both swayed a little as I unlocked the door. I kicked the door closed with my foot and Anna collapsed onto the futon.
‘Isn’t Rob delicious?’ He was nice to look at, but I found him a little too feminine for me. I couldn’t say that so I made a non-committal noise. ‘I might sleep with him soon. What do you think?’ I was a bit surprised by her question. Personally, I wouldn’t have sex with someone I barely knew. Anna wasn’t the most moral of people I had met. To her, sex was an obvious progression.
‘It’s up to you. Use something though- you don’t know where he’s been.’ I ran myself a glass of water.
‘I think I’ll to bed. I’m knackered.’
‘I’m going to hop in the shower. I’m going to sneak into Rob’s bed later tonight.’ I rolled my eyes at her and went to my room. I placed the glass on my desk with my laptop and books. A small lamp was clipped on it, on which I could swivel according to whether I was in bed or at my desk. Photos of my parents and sister were in pine frames on the shelves, along with my huge collection of novels. I sat on my bed and pulled off my trainers, placing them under the desk. Then I noticed my handbag was open. I picked it up and noticed my purse was open.
After a quick count, I discovered £40 was missing. I had withdrawn £100 earlier today. There was only one person who could have taken it. Cheeky cow. She only had to ask and I would lend it even though she owes me a small fortune.
I stood outside the bathroom door and knocked. ‘Anna?’
‘Did you borrow some money from my purse?’
‘Did you take my money?’
She opened the door and steam billowed out. ‘Why. What’s the matter?’
‘There’s £40 missing from my purse.’ She pushed past me, rubbing her hair with an old dirty green towel.
‘You automatically assume I stole it, do you?’
‘Did you?’ She snorted, and dived into her room. I stood in the doorway and watched as she dressed. ‘Well? Did you borrow it?’
She pulled a black dress over her head and glared. ‘It’s alright for you. Daddy fills up your bank account even if you don’t need it.’
‘That doesn’t give you the right to help yourself.’
‘You weren’t around to ask.’
‘If you can’t manage, you have to find another job. I can’t keep subsidising you.’ She pushed past me and headed to the door. ‘Anna?’
‘What? For God’s sake, get your head out of your ass. So I borrowed a few quid. Get over it.’
‘If you can’t make the rent, then I will have to start looking for a new flat mate.’
Anna stopped at the door and looked at me. I had her attention at last so I went back to my room. I expected her to leave in a huff, so I was surprised to see her in the doorway. ‘You’ll kick me out?’
‘If I have to. The lease is in my name so I have the right to decide if you can stay. You waste all your money on drugs and booze.’
‘You stuck-up bitch.’ She launched herself at me and I was so surprised I didn’t move. The blow to my chest caught me off balance and I toppled back onto my bed. I felt a crush beneath my neck, cold and wet. I couldn’t talk. A gurgling sound was coming from my mouth. I stared wide eyed as Anna jumped away me.
‘Shit, shit, shit.’
I put my hand to my neck, and something sharp sliced my finger. My eyes scanned my desk. A shard of glass protruded from my neck.
I slid to the floor trying to stop my life leak out around me. I wanted to climb into bed, but I couldn’t move. My limbs felt heavy and everything had a soft edge to it. There was a strange whooshing sound in my ears.
Then I noticed someone in the doorway. I tried to raise my hand, to ask for help, but I was so tired. As the figure got closer I realised it was Richard. For a moment I was relieved, until he pushed me to the floor, pulling my jeans off. I tried to kick, but that excited him. ‘Not dead yet. Good.’ I tried to say no, but the only sound I heard were bubbles popping. I felt sick, but my stomach was empty. My heart was thudding. Slower, slower, slow. Then it stopped. I didn’t want to watch but I couldn’t look away.
When he had finished, he went to the bathroom. My eyes were half closed, empty dark eyes peered out from under the lashes. My mouth was open in a sort of ‘O’. The blood from my neck had expanded outwards.
It was a ridiculous way to die. I wasn’t sure who I was angry with most. Anna or Richard.
A month later I watched as my body was buried. I stood between mum and dad, willing them to feel me. They just looked lost. I sat next to my grave for a few hours, until I began to fade, mingling with a breeze.