Thursday, 23 April 2009


I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m in limbo. There are things I can’t talk about. Everything’s wrong at the moment and I don’t know what to do. I think I might have to get out of London. The next two weeks will hold the answer. But anyway, in the meantime, life goes on. Kinda.

So you’ll be wanting to know the answer to Monday’s Bookscan. Yes, you will. Don't be impertinent.

It was Big Ethel!

Hmmm. So recently, I found a box full of old notebooks, full of lots of things I can hardly remember writing, including a short story I was quite pleased with. Here it is here.

Nothing Personal

I waited for over an hour. Twice I saw her arrive and relaxed, a relieved smile breaking out across my face like sunlight. But it wasn’t her. It was merely someone who looked like her. My smile died. My face darkened.

The anger was the thing that really surprised me. While I was waiting, I imagined conversations we would have when she finally arrived. ‘Are you pissed at me?’ she would say. ‘No, I’m not angry at all,’ I would reply. ‘All that matters is that you’re here now.’ And I would stroke her face, and she would kiss my hand. But that conversation never took place. And as I made my way home, alone, I was dizzy with rage. I’d never been stood up before. It stings.

I refuse, however, to take it personally. Even if the warmth and laughter and tactility she’d shown me the week before was fake; even if she only gave me her number and insisted I call her to get rid of me; even if she only made the date with me because she thought that standing me up was the best way to get rid of a misguided, objectionable, persistent fool such as myself; even if all that were true – I would still refuse to take it personally because I know my worth. It’s her loss. Fuck her.

Of course, I should have forgotten all about it, but the anger stayed with me, and despite my fine words, my wounded pride got the better of me. So a couple of days later, I called her, partly to give her a piece of my mind, but still half-hoping to discover a simple explanation.

Thankfully, there was a simple explanation, and now all the anger has gone, and I feel at peace. I’m sad too, of course. Extremely so, because I think we could have been really good together. But then you always think that at the beginning.

Her mum answered the phone. She’d flown over from Ohio when she heard the news. She started crying on the phone, wanted to know who I was. ‘Just a friend,’ I said. ‘She’s dead,’ she said. ‘Laura’s dead.’

I made suitably shocked noises. I was shocked. ‘What happened?’ I eventually asked.

Through muffled sobs, Laura’s mother informed me that her daughter had been beaten to death. On Tuesday evening. As I was waiting and raging, Laura was having the life punched and kicked out of her by her husband, who’d found out about her date. He’d found out about me.

She told me when I met her, during the twenty minutes we spent chatting and plotting, she told me it wasn’t a very good relationship. ‘My husband is selfish,’ she said. ‘I didn’t see it for the longest time, but all he cares about is himself.’ And when I asked her out, she said yes. She said it would be good to spend some time with someone who thought about her for a change.

And now she’s dead and I feel relieved.

I feel relieved because - now I know - it was nothing personal.

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PurestGreen said...

Limbo. Limbo is a concern. The story, however, is wonderful. I imagined him waiting in a bus or train station. I don't know why.

Treat limbo like another dimension. The old rules no longer apply.

Antipo Déesse said...

Hmm, your dark, dark story seems to have frightened everyone away!

I liked it though.

Catofstripes said...

"There are things I can’t talk about. "

So cryptic. You talk about everything, are you sure you can't talk.

I told you, come and visit me in France. I'm too motherly to be a problem and it is utterly peaceful here. You can think and think.

Some Chilean Woman said...

My old notebooks do not have any stories as good as yours. Wow, did I just get jealous of you?

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête
I love your short story. It's sad, dark, with a kind of happy ending.
More, please.
Uncle Did

Anonymous said...

whatever is going on, i'm pretty sure you've dealt with worse... and will get on the other side of this as well.

oh, and i hope there's a happy ending "part II" to the short story. i heard that laura from ohio was feeling much better. and might even be up and going for a walk soon...

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

I feel for you, I do. It's crap not being able to talk about shit stuff that's going on. Although you could always create yet another internet persona and use that...

My great-great-aunt died as a young woman. She was on a date. She had a cleft palate (sp?), they went swimming in the Thames together, she drowned. Her boyfriend - who was called Paul Something-or-other and was a novelist and died recently - had to go back to her family and explain to them what had happened.

They can't have been that unimpressed because he ended up marrying my other great-great-aunt - his date's sister - and became my great-great-uncle after all.

Anonymous said...

Man, where did *that* come from? I mean, it's an awesome short story and it should be published somewhere properly on paper and everything but, - y'know - brrrr.

Pearl said...

Found one of my old notebooks the other day. It was full of rubbish I scribbled while waitressing, so my deep (and now excruciatingly embarrassing to read) thoughts were interspersed with dinner orders. So I'm jealous of your old notebooks. Sigh.

You're always welcome to come and visit. It's two hours on the train from London. Although I expect the only people who find me motherly are the teenagers I work with.

Selena said...

Ahh, the whole it's better to know that someone died, instead of carrying on thinking that they chose to stand you up story...Yikes!

Rage in place of shame and humiliation for being stood up is an interesting take. Different.

Limbo, as in, forgotten or limbo, as in, confined/stuck?

Larry Teabag said...

Limbo, as in, forgotten or limbo, as in, confined/stuck?I was assuming he means "limbo" as in the anti-submarine mortar. I guess the matter he cannot talk about is his incipient career as a human cannonball.

Delightful story anyway.