Contest #84 shortlist ⭐️

8 comments

Contemporary Fiction Sad

I woke up this morning to the sound of someone's dog barking, the same sound  I heard yesterday or was that the day before? I Lay there, staring at the ceiling, counting one, two, three...throw back the covers and roll out of bed. Groaning, my body sulks its way to the washroom, wanting to avoid my reflection but it’s there, the same as every day staring back at me with sallow eyes and pale skin. I pause for a moment and wonder when will it change? When will it be different?

Scoop the coffee, pour the water, listen to the hum of the machine as it brews my liquid gold. The only part of my day that I look forward to.

I stare out the front window, the grass still yellows, the neighbor’s paper on their driveway, a flipped-over garbage can sits on the curb. Was it already garbage day? Did I miss it? I’m sure it’s on Thursdays and yesterday was...I don’t know, the day before was...I can’t remember, what day is it anyway?

I turn on the tv, turn it off after two minutes, depressing headlines once again, always the same. I sip my coffee and close my eyes pretending it’s all a dream I will wake up from. My coffee runs cold but I sip it until the last drop is gone. Procrastinating, delaying the inevitable of the routine to come, the day ahead filled with loneliness.

I shower, put on sweatpants, and a sweater. No bra, what's the point. My hair hangs wet, grey roots grown inches down the shaft of my sullen brown strands. I open my makeup drawer that sits abandoned, a wave of longing washes over me, a longing for the days when I had reason to care, a reason to get ready. Now nowhere to go, no one to see, my face stays bare, covered by a mask.

Turn on the computer, click on the zoom link. Faces populate, the one in the right corner the same, grey hair and blue eyes, some smile, some don’t. There is always the sad one with glasses, the one that looks worse off than me. My daily dose of human connection is not connected, spanned across networks and wifis, glitching in and out. I count down the minutes until I can log off, and return to the safety of my bubble, where I can just be without prying eyes. 

I walk to the pantry opening it and stare for ten minutes, I reach for the cookies, there’s only one left, I eat it but still feel empty. I make soup because it’s easy and I’m too tired. The doorbell rings, I freeze. Oh wait it’s probably my amazon package, I peer through the front window ensuring the delivery driver has left. When I open the door, the cool air shocks me and fills my lungs, for a moment I feel invigorated, I feel brave and my foot crosses the threshold, but I hear the mumblings of a couple walking by and I quickly slam the door shut. The fear creeping back, holding me prisoner. I pick up the phone to call mom, it rings and rings and rings. She’s sleeping says the attendant on her floor. It's been too long since I’ve seen her. The novelty of facetime calls with friends wore off months ago, drinking wine on camera, using funny filters to make each other laugh, the calls came few and far between until I just stopped picking up. 

Netflix asks me if I am still watching, yes Netflix I am still watching because what else is there to do? One hundred recommendations based on the number of series I’ve watched this year. It's getting dark, it’s only 5:10 p.m. although the day feels like it has lasted an eternity. The day that rolls into the next and the next with nothing to distinguish its difference, with nothing of promise for change. I eat a bag of chips for dinner and skip my nightly bath. Sleep tugs at my eyelids, my mind exhausted but my limbs dance restlessly, like tiny ants crawling over my skin. I pull and stretch my legs. I pace, rewipe the countertops, close the blinds, organize the fridge, refold the laundry, the anxiety tapping in the back of my mind, the yearning my body aches for freedom. Instead, I crawl back into my bed, under my covers, and hide. I take two tiny pills that promise a restful night’s sleep, I just want to close my eyes and disappear, I don’t want to think. I dream of my family, and friends, of beaches and sunshine, birthdays and holidays, I see myself dancing and laughing.  My heart skips a beat when I remember the face of the man I met before all of this started, a man I could have known if it wasn’t for isolation, a chance I never got that may now never be.

When my body senses morning, I lay there afraid to open my eyes, afraid to absently coast through another dreadful day, I wait to hear the dog bark, but it doesn’t come, I check my clock it is the same time as always yet, silence. I notice the sun edging through the crack in my blind, I strain my ears but all I hear is a breeze and a faint singing, the cheerful melody of a bird. I sit up with force, I all but skip to the window to see a small robin perched on the tree. I furiously crank it open as the fresh air brushes my face, an undertone of warmth, and inhale.

I walk to the washroom and look in the mirror, splashing my skin with water I smile. An expression I hadn’t seen for a while, the crow’s feet settling into their rightful place, remembering where they belonged. A shift has begun, a change on the horizon. Today is different. I can feel it, today I will get dressed and maybe even do my makeup, I will open the front door and step outside, plant my feet on solid ground, today I will take my life back.

March 12, 2021 15:26

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

8 comments

Michael Boquet
16:25 Mar 19, 2021

You do great job of capturing the monotony of living in quarantine. I really liked the hopeful ending. I did notice there are several proper nouns you failed to capitalize. (And you've got an incorrectly capitalized 'Lay' toward the beginning). Just wanted to point that out in case you plan to submit this elsewhere. Congrats on getting shortlisted!

Reply

Alana Avellino
03:34 Mar 20, 2021

Thank you! And thank you for the feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Calum Browne
10:29 Mar 20, 2021

OMG YOUR SUCH A KAREN SHE GOT A FEW MISTAKES SO WHAT

Reply

Michael Boquet
13:30 Mar 20, 2021

Wow...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Kip Packard
15:44 Mar 20, 2021

Calum, the point of this site is to get critiques on your work. That includes constructive criticism like pointing out typos. For example, you misspelled "you're" in your mean and sexist comment.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Show 2 replies
20:15 Apr 16, 2021

i really love it that is how I felt once but then one day I decided to do something for myself

Reply

Show 0 replies
Josh C
06:00 Mar 29, 2021

Beautiful story, and well deserving of the shortlist. I'm glad it ended on a note of hope, it was a little too relatable throughout for comfort, so having a slightly upbeat end makes me feel a little better too.

Reply

Alana Avellino
13:52 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.