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The last line we wrote together was utter horseshit but I can’t bring myself to delete it. 

The stars shone forth from his eyes like lasers. 

I stare at the horizontal blinking line for so long that the screen saver comes on but I still can’t hit the delete button. 

Drivel. Meaningless drivel. Worse, I can’t remember how serious it had been, either. Had we known how crap it was and laughed? Had we thought we were challenging Shakespeare and rejoiced? I can’t believe I don’t remember. 

18 months and I’d finally been ready to try to write again but now? I’m trying desperately to remember that session but all my useless brain is telling me is that it happened. I know that we sat on our little sofas in the living room as always, typing away on a collaborative document. But I can’t remember anything else about it. I should. I must. 

I’ve always had a sense of things. I once saw a boyfriend off at the station, waving until his train pulled out of view and I can remember thinking, “That’s the last time I’ll ever see him.” I mean, he was as empty headed as a particularly dumb jellyfish and my appreciation for his finely sculpted abs could only carry the relationship so far so maybe I can’t claim premonition so much as determination. And there have been times where I’ve gotten it wrong - I had the same clear thought on four different occasions when driving away from my ailing grandmother and was only right the once. 

I had no idea that that writing session would be our last. 

I leave the computer on my dining room table and go to sit in the position I was in on that day. Maybe this will help summon the memory? It doesn’t so I retrieve the laptop and sit with it the way I would’ve done. I try to remember details so I can conjure his spectre; the position of a coffee cup or quantity of flowers in a vase could be the key ingredient in this spell I’m weaving.

Still nothing so I squint at his spot and am glad that I didn’t replace the sofa last week after all. Battered and bruised, it still bears the indentation on the seat from every time he sat in it; gradually forming an impression that has forever changed the shape of it. I can relate.

Okay. Maybe imagine the clothes he was wearing - blue hoodie? Red jacket? Oh god, I can’t remember that either. Why can’t I remember this? 

Can I remember anything? His laugh? His singing? The way he walked? We used to joke about my appalling memory and that all my key memories were stored in his head instead. What the hell am I going to do without access to that? 

He would have remembered what I was wearing and what we’d thought about that abysmal line. He would have carved that last time into the walls of his subconscious and he would have been able to pull out the image of me laughing at him or frowning about semicolons or debating the morality of character decisions or whatever the hell we were doing out when the darkness felt like it was crushing him. 

It is. It is crushing. It feels raw, sharp, bloodied. My chest is being squeezed by a thousand thoughtless forgettings and my vision is as blurry as my stupid, stupid brain. 

My laptop slides off my lap and hits the floor and I follow suit. On my knees with my arms stretched out in front of me - child’s pose I think it’s called in yoga but for me it’s the pose of abasement, of shame. I almost wish someone was here so that I could explain that for all my promises of love, I can’t even remember the last time I saw him. I’m a fraud. 

My shoulders curl inward, drawing my arms back towards me as the pain in my gut intensifies and I know that this was a mistake. 

I knew that this might hurt but I’ve torn the scab off and there’s nothing underneath but the swirling abyss. 

There are so many metaphors for grief and some of them fit, some of them don’t. But this isn’t grief, it’s disgust and shame and regret. And fear. If I’ve lost this, how long before our entire time together is nothing but old diary entries and faded photographs? I should’ve written more fucking diary entries. I should’ve written about his favourite breakfasts (pancakes) and the way he wore his hair (long to disguise the thinning patch on top) and his favourite lines in films (let’s play a game of Fuck Off… you go first). 

My throat is treacle and glass: the breaths that pass through it stick and slice. 

Our writing wasn’t the biggest part of us but it was shared and it brought us closer. Our novel was crafted in focused writing sessions and on car journeys and in whispers across pillows. We sought to improve each other through questions - what does the character want? Who is the centre of this conversation? What is the cost of using that power? We built on each other’s ideas, creating a narrative that was richer than either of us could create independently. More complex, more precise, more engaging. I rediscovered the things that had drawn me to him all those years before. His sharp intelligence and his keen ear for the absurd. His writing was witty and kind; it bewitched you.

It was him that had suggested the novel to begin with. We’d been hiking and neither the weather nor the scenery were favourable. Together we spun tales of other planets and the creatures that lived upon them to make the experience less miserable. He seemed to get excited without warning - I guess the idea just burst into life all at once for him - and demanded that we write our ideas down when we returned to civilisation. His grin was infectious and he lifted me with glee when I agreed. Despite my protestations and squirming, in that moment, I was overwhelmed with how much I loved him. He seemed to glow and when I looked into his eyes, I noticed the shards of green speckled in on the background of blue. 

Oh wow. His eyes. I can remember his eyes. And I remember the way he looked at me. Okay. Okay. Maybe I haven’t lost everything yet. But how long will that last? How long will I remember details and moments? 

Trying to continue our writing was a mistake. I’m not ready. Maybe one day but definitely not yet. But I’m going to write today and tomorrow. I’m going to write and it’s not going to have a clear structure or a discernible plot. I don’t even give a fuck if the grammar is right. I’m going to write down every moment I can remember because otherwise, they’ll all disappear and then what am I left with? Just a black hole in my heart where someone important used to be? No. He deserves more. 

I’m going to start with that bullshit sentence, too. I’m going to start with the forgetting to remind myself that the stakes are high on this one. It’ll sit on the front page with nothing else around it and every time I look at the document, I’ll remember how much I loved him. 

So. 

No excuses, just begin. 

I miss you. 

The stars shone forth from his eyes like lasers. 

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39 comments

Ranya Navarez
18:23 Jul 11, 2020

That was good!

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Verda Hussain
06:14 Jul 07, 2020

This was lovely! I especially liked the way you phrased, "My throat is treacle and glass: the breaths that pass through it stick and slice." Very vivid!

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Laura Clark
07:26 Jul 07, 2020

Thank you! That seems to have been a popular line - I’ll put it in my word bank for future writes!

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Shayla Danielle
15:06 Jul 01, 2020

This was such an emotional piece and it was great. I can definitely relate to losing someone as being the reason you give on something you love, like writing. I thought it was very realistic and raw - if that makes sense. This was my favorite part: "Battered and bruised, it still bears the indentation on the seat from every time he sat in it; gradually forming an impression that has forever changed the shape of it. I can relate." That really stood out to me, I went back and reread that part a few times :)

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Jn Park
03:33 Jun 28, 2020

I'd call this a poem rather than a story 'cause your sentences are short yet strong and effective. I loved the way you ended the story because the last sentence really sank deep into my heart. I can easily imagine our protagonist trying to collect the fragments of what she had lost, thanks to your descriptions. :)

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Laura Clark
06:19 Jun 28, 2020

Oh, well thank you! I hadn’t thought of this like a poem but I can kind of see what you mean. I’m glad you enjoyed it - thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

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Batool Hussain
11:30 Jun 26, 2020

Another beautiful piece, Laura! Love it:)

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Laura Clark
12:05 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you! Any suggestions for improvements?

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Batool Hussain
12:13 Jun 26, 2020

It's perfect, Laura! No need for any improvement:)

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Laura Clark
12:47 Jun 26, 2020

Oh wow, I doubt that but thank you for the compliment! Would you mind looking at Splinters of Sadness before it goes live, please and letting me know if it could use any improvements?

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Batool Hussain
13:07 Jun 26, 2020

Sure! I'll check it out:)

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D. Holmes
02:25 Jun 26, 2020

I loved your take on this prompt - how you weaved an entire relationship and the narrator's complex feelings about its loss into a story on returning to writing. The emotions felt real and raw to me, especially the regrets of not enough diary entries. My favorite line: "My chest is being squeezed by a thousand thoughtless forgettings and my vision is as blurry as my stupid, stupid brain."

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Laura Clark
03:45 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you! That’s a really lovely comment! I’m glad that I managed to make the emotions seem real and I quite liked that line too. 🙂

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Matthew Turner
07:56 Jun 25, 2020

Great story. Love your rythm and your descriptions. The passages connect so well together, makes for a fantastic read

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Laura Clark
08:32 Jun 25, 2020

Thank you so much! That’s very kind.

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Emma Chatterton
14:31 Jun 22, 2020

I love this, it's beautifully written. It is heavy with self-flagellation, to the point of feeling uncomfortable, but I think that's the idea? Your construction of emotions is fantastic. I really feel like I understand and empathise with your character.

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Laura Clark
14:46 Jun 22, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words! I did definitely want to get that self-loathing across for a character who is turning her grief back on herself, partly to avoid feeling the loss as sharply. The self-flagellation seems to have had varying levels of success with different readers but it still works for me. I’ll be more aware of overplaying emotions in future works (probably? Maybe? Hopefully?) Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

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Kate Alexandra
02:19 Jun 22, 2020

This was such a well done piece. The picture you painted was vivid and real, I loved the way you describe emotions. The ending was perfect! Amazing work

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Laura Clark
08:41 Jun 22, 2020

Thank you so much! That’s very kind of you to say!

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Mr Jingo
20:47 Jun 21, 2020

Once again, you’ve put out an absolute banger of a story:) “I’m going to write and it’s not going to have a clear structure or a discernible plot,” was a line I especially loved because of its sheer relatability, at least for me. Also, “The stars shone forth from his eyes like lasers,” made the elitist a$$h*&# part of me lol. Overall, the evocative imagery and smooth pacing work together exceptionally well to make this story really pop emotionally. A few things: I noticed some run-on sentences (e.g., “It doesn’t so I retrieve the laptop an...

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Laura Clark
21:20 Jun 21, 2020

Excellent notes- thank you! I love me some good criticism (I’m also pretty fond of the compliments but I guess technically they’re less useful?) I will change the horizontal to vertical straight away. With the personality of the ex-lover, I haven’t included much of it because I only wanted to give the barest hint of him. Really, it’s all about her connection with him but I felt like having a vaguer sense of him made him more of an Everyman that anyone could superimpose their experiences into. But goddamn it. I can’t believe I messed up ANOTH...

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Jane Andrews
13:09 Jun 21, 2020

Another beautifully written piece - I see other people have also commented on "treacle and glass" which was one of my favourites too. I also loved the alliteration of "thousand thoughtless forgettings" and the raw emotion that the whole story is infused with. (I don't think there's too much self-flagellation: it's natural for people to think of all the things they should have done or could have done after losing someone.) I hope to see a lot more like this (and the pirate one).

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Laura Clark
13:16 Jun 21, 2020

Thank you! I have to say, having gone through the experience of forgetting key bits of information about a loved one that has passed away, the self-flagellation is accurate to my personality. I take the point about it and perhaps it’s too much for other people but I definitely toned it down in the editing stage already. Thank you so much!

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Praveen Jagwani
10:37 Jun 21, 2020

Hello Lara, You have employed some clever imagery. It's your strong suit. I confess, I was relieved that you concluded the dark journey on a positive note. Treacle & Glass ?- did you mean shard ? - otherwise why would breath slice ? . I also liked the line about ailing grandma. The best bits are when you describe him and time with him. The story would be crisper, in my opinion with a little less self-flagellation. Less is more :) Overall I was immersed in the Agony of forgetting !

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Laura Clark
11:41 Jun 21, 2020

Hi Praveen, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Treacle and glass read better than treacle and shard and I trusted that the reader would be able to work out what I meant. Thanks so much for your feedback! Would you mind looking at the Phoenix of the Sea and giving some feedback?

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Praveen Jagwani
11:51 Jun 21, 2020

Hmmm. On second thoughts, you are right about glass :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
02:53 Jun 21, 2020

Beautiful story. I loved how you started. My favourite line- ‘ my throat is treacle and grass, the breaths pass through it stick and slice’. Great portrayal of emotions.

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Laura Clark
06:06 Jun 21, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Roshna Rusiniya
18:03 Jun 21, 2020

You are welcome. If you have time please check out mine too. Thanks!

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Steve Stigler
21:01 Jun 20, 2020

"My throat is treacle and glass" - nice. The narrator's grief is palpable, especially falling to the floor in the "child's pose." I think you conveyed these emotions exceptionally well - very real.

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Laura Clark
21:08 Jun 20, 2020

Thank you - that’s very kind!

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Kelly Vavala
18:14 Jun 20, 2020

Very emotional story! Well done! Would you mind giving mine a read through?

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Laura Clark
19:35 Jun 20, 2020

Thank you! Of course I will - are you after any specific style of feedback?

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Kelly Vavala
22:17 Jun 20, 2020

No, thank you for asking! Just thoughts…unfortunately, it’s non fiction. You’ll see what I mean by that after you read it. I’m new here and not really sure how all this works! Going by what I’m seeing on others posts! Trying to get to know people and read others works I enjoy

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Laura Clark
22:34 Jun 20, 2020

I think with this site, most things go as long as they’re not obscene or graphic. I’ve seen all styles of story and I’ve learned so much from other people too! Reading other people’s stories is always a good way to acclimatise yourself though (feel free to read as many of mine as you want, haha!)

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A O
17:50 Jun 20, 2020

I really liked your story too. I loved the first line. And I could really relate to a lot of the emotions expressed here. Good job.

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Laura Clark
18:09 Jun 20, 2020

Thank you so much for reading it! If you’ve got any constructive criticism for improvement, I’m always in search of it. I’m sorry to hear that you can relate to the emotions though - they’re not cheerful ones! Thank you for your comment.

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A O
18:22 Jun 20, 2020

Relating to those emotions comes to everyone who has a long enough life and the ability to feel grief and connection. So it's bittersweet, right? I like what I've seen of your writing. I don't know how expert I am at judging for the populous, but it seems to me you craft your words beautifully and you know how to tell a story. Having been in a pretty large critique group for the better part of the last decade, I've been surprised at how few talented people are equally talented at both of these things.

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Laura Clark
19:34 Jun 20, 2020

That’s probably one of the nicest things you could have said! Thank you so much 😀

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