I wish I’d said sorry.
You o’erstepped the mark.
I lashed out with words.
Bad news travelled faster than my apology, still stuck in my throat. Maybe this was your surest form of revenge.
I hadn’t meant to be unkind. Your insinuations hurt me. I fought back. It’s only now, with hindsight, that the words become so cruel, immortalised in their bile. Their acrid taste lingers on this dead air with nowhere to bury these wounds.
If the first cut is the deepest, then what about the last thing you say, which is never intended to be final because that’s not how life works, is it? Not normally. Not like in the movies.
Sentiments tossed out casually, on the spur of the moment, not designed to be etched on the harsh wind or mercilessly scattered out to sea. The flotsam and the jetsam of our careless debris.
Words, actions, deeds. Washed up on some beach in a sailor’s bottle which bears the faint whiff of whisky. Chucked overboard with the desperate sole survivor plunging into the frozen waves, believing he still stands a chance.
Those things you didn’t mean to say should vanish beneath the turbulent eddy, dragged down by the foam and force of the whirling spiralling spray, devouring everything in its pull.
Yet my words stay. The tide can play such spiteful tricks. I once convinced myself, and foolishly, that I could swim against it. The gossamer of dreams.
I don’t want to imagine. I must imagine. I cannot control my imagination when I close my eyes and sleep.
I dream of writing those words down on paper. I dream of scrunching the parchment up in the palm of my hand. I dream of throwing the evidence far out into the water where it sinks, it disappears, down, down, down, into the furthest depths of the deepest darkest ocean. It doesn’t dance, captivated by seaweed fingers. It drowns.
You stood calm and strong amidst the breakers. You smiled. You loved the sea. You breathed in the salt, the shale, the shingle. You rose up, arms outstretched, embracing all and everything that belonged to you.
I stand beside the shore. I breathe you in. My clenched fist aches. My body crumples.
Lizzie Eldridge is a writer, actor and human rights activist from Glasgow. She’s written 2 published novels – Duende (Amazon 2014) and Vandalism (Merlin Publishers 2015). Vandalism was shortlisted for a National Book Prize in Malta where she lived for 12 years and was selected as one of the Best Books 2017 by a Glasgow branch of Waterstones. Lizzie has also had short stories, flash fiction and poetry published in Scottish PEN’s PENning, Declarations on Freedom for Readers and Writers (Scotland St Press 2020), The Edwin Morgan Centenary Collection (Speculative Boos 2020), Story Nook, Paragraph Planet and Flash Fiction North.
Illustration by Carmel Said – @carmelsaidofficial
Follow FFF on Twitter – @fffict
Join the FFF mailing list – form is on the home page – https://freeflashfiction.com
Free Flash Fiction now offer a Critique Service – https://freeflashfiction.com/critique-service-2/
You donate – we purchase – an author gets a prize, a book gets a little publicity, and the work of a flash fiction author gets read! Go to the Kofi page for more info…https://ko-fi.com/freeflashfiction