Never Alone

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic romance.... view prompt


Drama Science Fiction

He is walking next to the river. The same direction as the water runs. Although it may be longer than a shortcut through the center of town would be, he feels lighter, like the current is carrying him with it.

The weather is nice and birds are tearing rainbows from the surface as they dive for food. It is a perfect day. 

He pulls out his phone and puts it to his ear. He smiles.

”You should be here right now” he says, beaming. ”Everything is so beautiful and clean, the air is almost intoxicating. If I pass out will you come find me?”

He laughs. The sound blends with the rippling water and rustling of trees.

”I know I’m cheesy. But who’s to say?”

Walking on he reaches the bridge that stretches across the river. There are no cars using it anymore and things are growing on it now. He wonders if there were people hired to keep it clean before, or if being left alone is the reason things dared to grow. He has many of these random thoughts. And lots of time. Under the bridge his footsteps echo back to him. He recalls the time him and his brother stole a can of spray paint and put their names on the foot of the bridge, underneath in the shadows. Large enough so that everyone could see but hidden enough so no one would. He hasn'´t told her of course. Not that he was a bad kid - he really wasn'´t - but he doesn't want her to think less of him. And he has buried past mistakes with his family.

A small park is up ahead as he approaches the harbour and the hill leading up to town. Three benches are spaced out evenly along the promenade. They look worn with twigs poking through the backrest. Tall unkept grass is growing all the way to the seating area almost making them seem sprouted out of the ground. All three are covered in grafitti. He stops.

”I’m at the park now. The one with the story bench. Thinking I might add another one before I get home, what do you think?” 

There’s a patch of trampled grass. He kneels there like he has many times before. 

”Ok. I’ll hurry back. I’m walking past the store to get something for tonight. Any ideas? Whatever is fine for me too. Ok. See you soon. Love you. Bye.”

He looks at the bench. It’s filled with dates, names, poems or loving greetings, some he thinks might be inside jokes cause he doesn'´t get them, but they’re not for him so he doesn’t dwell on it. Instead he runs his hand across the weathered scrimshaw, the texture under his palm speaks the names to him like braille. It doesn't take him long to find them.

It’s etched in blue, the name of his father, and next to it, his mother Eve. She got another color as the pen had already dried out although she went not long after. He made sure to circle their names so that they could be joined in death as they were in life.

He doesn't say anything, just brushes some leaves off the bench and takes out his pocketknife. Carving a name in the wood is not easy and this will be his third visit here. It might take him one more he thinks, feeling the edge of the knife with his indexfinger. Still sharp. 

Today he works on the S. An S is hard to carve but he tries his best. It looks more like two bolts of lightning when he’s done but it’s alright. It says JESS. Tomorrow he’ll do the ICA. 


The most beautiful girl in the world.

He continues on. A small ship sits slanted in the shallow water. It was used as a restaurant and hasn’t left the harbour in many years. Green plants and algae are climbing up the bow like some sea creature trying to pull the rusty hull under. He feels his mood sink with it. After leaving the green and lush nature path behind, more and more buildings are starting show as the town is growing nearer. It’s getting harder to keep reality at bay. 

Many of the houses he passes has turned gray or bleached in the scorching sun. Lawns and gardens have grown wild and the trees splays long branches over balconies and rooftops. There'´s still a sweet scent coming from the river further down and a gentle breeze tousles his hair. 

He sits down again. A park bench next to a lamp post. He takes out his wallet. He has a picture of Jessica in there. She is smiling at him. What would he have done if he didn'´t have her, he thinks. Her blue eyes and radiant smile is like a rush of oxygen after a deep dive. His chest feels thick with emotion. Should he call again? That would be too much right? He decides not to. Although he is much too old to carry pictures around with him in his wallet, he has several of them. This one is his favourite and perfectly matches the open sky and fresh air that is so uncommon these days. 

The gas station is not far from his home and he crosses the road and past the fuel pumps. There are still cars here, with dirty windows and open doors they look almost prehistoric. He has never driven one. And he knows never will. It´ s almost empty now, even the storage area which he ventured into about a month after realising no one would catch him looting. There's not much left for him to take. Soon he’s gonna have to find another place. It worries him. 

A couple of soup cans and couple of sodas is all he takes with him this time. Big night.

The tiny apartment in which he lives is not the only one he’s lived in the past year but it turned out to be the easiest to manage. It’s on the bottom floor of a two story building so even if the roof has blown off, the apartment above shields him from the rain. Six strips of plastic serves as a windowpane but it’s never cold at night anymore and the animals can'´t get past the broken glass he has poured outside so it works. He still takes his shoes off before he enters. And he always shakes his head when he does. Silly, but he is human after all, and should keep appearances up as long as he can.

He puts the cans on the windowsill and sits down on the bed. Removes his wallet and the picture of Jessica. She smiles at him and he smiles back. Then he turns over and puts the picture back on the wall with a plastic tack. There are so many pictures there. Almost a hundred. Jessica in a sundress, Jessica on a bike, Jessica in a hat, Jessica with a fancy watch. She looks different in all the magazines but still the same somehow. 

He takes his phone out again.

”I’m home” he says. ”Just got in. When are you getting here?”

He looks at the pictures on the wall. All the Jessicas in his world. A shadow passes across his eyes before it’s gone again.

”I’m waiting for you.”

He puts his hand down and looks at his phone. A spiderweb of cracks on a dark screen. Then he places it on the bedside table. He doesn’t charge it. There is no electricity in his world.

Only Jessica.

Authors note:

Hi everyone! I wrote this today and I'm really struggling atm. We all struggle with writers block sometimes I guess huh? I would like to know from you all how long you usually take to write a short story. Not that it matters but I have always wondered. Please comment.

Keep it up!

September 25, 2020 21:51

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Chris Morris
13:16 Oct 02, 2020

I really enjoyed this, very well written and a really sad story - I think you got the emotion over well. I usually take 1 or 2 days to write a Reedsy story. Whenever I'm doing other short stories it can be anywhere from a couple of days to a few months! I need to have the right inspiration I think.


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Jia Kausar
16:01 Oct 01, 2020

Wonderful Story! I love the descriptive tone immensely. Re: Writing a short story for me is really hard, to be honest, and it could either take up 2 days or 2 hours. Depends on the story line, I guess?


Jesper Jee
16:28 Oct 01, 2020

Thank youI Yeah, it depends. But lately it takes me forever. Language is a problem also. Practise makes.....a little better, I hope. Thanks again!


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Unknown User
17:23 Sep 26, 2020

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Jesper Jee
17:45 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you! That sounds awesome. I have been trying for some months now but I really struggle with it. Writing in english might be a big part of it but 3000 words shouldn´t be THIS hard. It takes me around 7 days to post anything. Read your latest. Really really good!


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