Contest #218 shortlist ⭐️

14 comments

Fiction LGBTQ+ Sad

It was awfully quiet. Too quiet for her comfort, the room had never felt this silent before. The only sound she could hear were the raindrops leaving an intricate pattern on the foggy windows.

She flicked the light switch, but nothing happened. Flicked it again, and one more time for good measure, but the bulb stayed cold. She let out her breath in a short, sorrowful sigh, releasing every emotion she didn’t know she felt, emotions that kept her mind captive, like cold, dead fingers squeezing and clinging onto her heart.

The room was rather small, being located right under the roof, the ceiling was slanted on one side, too many times had she hit her head on the wooden panels before she’d gotten used to the slope, used to ducking and crouching in the right spots.

Everything was still where it was supposed to be. Where he had left it, carefully placed it, because he liked organizing his things, and it all had to be in one specific location, otherwise it just wouldn’t look right. It must have been ages since the last time she had come here.

She took another step into the room, placing her hand gently on the old swivel office chair with the scratchy fabric, the one he liked to sit in whenever he was working on his novel, a novel about a one-of-a-kind lovestory, the type that etches itself into one’s brain and doesn’t leave there for a long time, until it’s eventually forgotten about, just to be brought back into memory on a random day, triggered by something entirely mundane. The one I never got to have, he had once said, just before he had cried in her arms.

The chair creaked a little when she turned it, adding to the suffocating atmosphere. Turn it back around, it’s not supposed to be like that. It was almost like she could hear his voice inside her head, and she listened to it, quietly begging her to not change anything. To leave it as it was, to keep his memory.

A few ripped photos taped to the wall showed his face, smiling widely, friends next to him, a dog, her. The fingers around her heart squeezed a little tighter. She touched the photos briefly, wanting to reach out to him, but she couldn’t, his face was too static on the photos, it should be moving, it should be here, smiling at her in this room.

She let her eyes wander around the room. He didn’t keep many things, he had never liked to spend unneccessary amounts of money, only holding onto things that held a special place in his heart.

The small table easel stood on the wooden surface next to his handmade sketchbook like it had just been used yesterday. A palette of watercolors, all dried up and broken, the blue shades being almost used up entirely. Next to it, his paintbrush. Her paintbrush. The one she had gifted him for Christmas a few years ago, their names burned into the wood like a signature. The bristles had looked nice back then, but they had been used a lot since then. Let go of it! The memory of his voice came back into her mind, painting a soft, painful smile on her lips. He had been mad when he had found the dog chewing on the bristles one sunny afternoon, but he had laughed about it, and so had she. The brush must have been unusable, but he had refused to use any other brush.

He wasn’t very good at painting, but he enjoyed it nontheless. Painting his emotions.

A lot had changed since it happened. For a moment, she sank onto his bed, the sheets were neatly made, tucked into the sides of the bedframe to maintain the organized look. Her hands touched the fabric, her eyes getting stuck on the decorative cushion placed gently on the mattress. He didn’t use it to rest his head on, but he liked to have it close to him when he slept. It was black, a small red heart embroidered on the pillow case. He had never told her who he had gotten it from, but she knew it had meant a great deal to him.

On the bedside table, almost like it had never been touched, laid the letter on the white, scratched wood. It had been opened before, but closed again after the contents had been read, almost like that would reverse the words inside of it and the story behind it. The paper of the envelope was crinkled where it had been wet with tears once.

She stood up again, quietly humming a melody she knew he liked. She reached for her pocket and took out the object she came here to put where it belonged.

It was just an old phone case. Nothing special to anyone. Except them. He had handpainted it, a rainbow decorating the case. They don’t want me to use it. Can you keep it safe for me? Of course, she had said. It will be safe with me just like your secret, she had said. Mom and Dad will never find it.

He had smiled at her. A sad smile. A smile that pretended that everything was light and hopeful, but hiding the harsh truth behind it. Thanks.

She placed it next to the pillow. Maybe he would find it in his dreams, if he still dreamed wherever he was now.

There was nothing in the world she would have liked more than to stay here for a while, to relish in nostalgic memories, but the sound of the rain was too deafening to be comforting, and the otherwise silent room held nothing more but melancholy where there once had been joy and life. Where he had once brought happiness to the world.

Her hands felt the cool steel of the doorknob, sending a shiver down her spine and goosebumps across her skin, goosebumps that came not only from the cold.


“Bye.”, she said, as she stepped out of the room. Bye, his voice said.

September 30, 2023 06:20

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14 comments

Kevin Logue
17:44 Oct 09, 2023

Welcome to Reedsy Alice. A nice introductory piece here, full of melancholic reminiscence. There is a lot unsaid and that's ok, let the reader fill in the blanks. The mood is as grey as the day outside, rain pattering on windows, the right kind of day for a final goodbye.

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Audrey Knox
14:18 Oct 14, 2023

This was so heartbreaking. The story unraveled a bit like a mystery for me, as I wondered what the relationship between the main character and the dead man was. At first I thought she was his girlfriend, which made his "great love like the kind I never got to have" line sound mean and dismissive. But then at the end I realized that they were siblings and that he had been cruelly forced to stay in the closet, causing him to ultimately commit suicide, which was so bitter and sad to accept. A beautifully told, simple story.

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Alice Brooks
15:54 Oct 14, 2023

thank you so much!

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Lilly Stolpe
19:35 Oct 07, 2023

Hi Alice! I really like your writing style! Your choice of words seems really thoughtful and experienced, and I love your comparisons, for example the „like cold, dead fingers squeezing and clinging onto her heart“. Also, the small details you add to the story, that give the characters personality, like mentioning his habits (wanting everything in place, the blue color having been used the most). It feels really intimate. Really great writing!

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Patricia Casey
18:13 Oct 07, 2023

Hi Alice. You don't tell what happened to him. Why is the room empty? How long has it been since they've been apart? But you didn't need those details. She is in a room that means something to her, and she is leaving something behind that meant something to them. It belonged in her past. She is moving on. Her intimate goodbye leaves what they had inside that room as she must move on without him. Very effective and emotional in the way you told your story.

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Philip Ebuluofor
16:52 Oct 14, 2023

More of this kind would stamp you. Congrats.

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Rose Lind
06:03 Oct 08, 2023

A good slow burn story

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Marly Bellard
16:53 Jan 09, 2024

This story was amazing and saddening. It took me a couple of minutes to realize what had happened, but the moment I did was heartbreaking. I've read a few of your stories, and love them. The way you write is not just amazing, but artistic; each sentence even more amazing than the last. You definitely deserved this shortlist win!!

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Alice Brooks
18:08 Jan 09, 2024

Thank you so much! That’s one of the best things anyone’s ever said about my writing. I’m glad you liked it.

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Amanda Lieser
16:35 Nov 18, 2023

Hi Alice! Congratulations on the shortlist! And welcome to the community! This story was a heck of a story to start out with, and I was instantly heartbroken by the very first paragraph I could tell that we were going to be entering a sanctuary and breaking that seal can be so harrowing. I loved each little detail that you included–the pictures on the wall, the bed sheets, and then, of course the lines about the cell phone. All of them felt like incomplete thought switch, somehow added to the heart wrenching nature of this piece. Nice work!!

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Alice Brooks
18:01 Nov 18, 2023

thank you so much!!!

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Ken Cartisano
06:36 Oct 14, 2023

It's a good story. The writing is excellent, I'll give you that, the story has a wonderful flow, from paragraph to paragraph. From entrance to remembrance to reclining and recalling, a secret revelation. Reinforcing the vow, rising, revising and exit, stage left. All very neat and clean. She cared about him, and he died too young. I knew someone like this, his name was Roy, I was friends with his mother and watched him grow up since he was about five. A cute kid, sweet and pleasant. Got aids at about the age of twenty and died three or fo...

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Karen Corr
20:06 Oct 13, 2023

Congratulations on your shortlist win, Alice! (:

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Alice Brooks
01:14 Oct 14, 2023

thank you!!

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