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by jamie harding 10 months ago in Short Story
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A woman confronts her man's distant emotional state.

Photo by Jorge Moncayo on Unsplash

Jason had been a bit off with Demarara recently, and was again today. He was sat at the end of the sofa, murmuring dark threats into his phone when Demarara came in from the bathroom. On registering her aura, Jason quit his task and pocketed his phone, which was tough as his pocket was squished up against the sofa.

Demarara thought long and hard for a few seconds whether to make light of her boyfriend’s struggle to nonchalantly conceal his Samsung. The slightest error in pitch and her desire to lighten the mood would be horrific. Regrettable.

Demarara backed into the bathroom and locked the door. Presently, the murmuring restarted, and the stuttering sound of an XBox360 starting up rasped through the flat. The terrible and violent screaming of RELENTLESS STABBING IV: KIDDERMINSTER NIGHTS would soundtrack her evening, once again.


The next day, Demarara decided she would be a little more forceful with her handling of the Jason situation. She would not get mad but definitely, in a fun-ish, kitten-ish kind of way, antagonise him just enough to say, Hey, buddy. I exist, with an added subtext of, be nice. Be present. Force a reaction. The plan was both fun and scientific. Perhaps she would submit it to the girls for review.

She loitered in the flat until she heard his car door slam, then dashed downstairs into the reception hallway. She peeped through the letterbox and saw Jason emerge from his Datsun, soaked in blood. She danced up the staircase to the fifth stair.

He pushed in the front door and made for upstairs. He would need a cold shower. Jason half-froze on seeing Demarara on the stairs, far from her kitchen, her arms crossed. He mumbled a hello and started to clamber up of stairs. She smiled, raised her eyebrows and readied herself to say, "And where do you think you’re going, mister?" while holding out an arm to block him.

By the time Jason had climbed to the fourth stair, she catastrophised and envisioned him yelling FOR A FUCKING SHOWER, WHERE’DYA THINK, while gesticulating at the pints of blood enmeshed in his boiler suit. She abandoned her plot and shrank against the wall, allowing him to pass unmolested. She waded sadly to her kitchen and with one eye on the weekend, started on the curds and whey.


At the weekend, Jason had risen early and driven off, muttering about picking up some lime at the the industrial estate. Also, when pressed by Demarara, he conceded that he also needed a new scythe and a metallic watering can. "Have a nice time," she said. "Thanks," he intoned drily. "You too," he added, after a beat that filled her with dread, love, and anxiety.

By the time the curds and whey had finally simmered down, Demarara had decided it had been a nice you too and danced for a small while. She tended to the Alchemilla micans in the communal garden, biked to the deli to procure white meats, and salted orange pudding, and Coke, then bathed, shaving most of the hairs below the belt, while thinking about Jason and the amount of time he was dedicating to his craft.

She was dressed in an elegant, green three-piece, steaming the white meats ready to top the curds and whey, sashaying to Men at Work when Jason quickstepped into the kitchen. He had tippy-toed up the stairs, even remembering to avoid the squeaky step. Demarara shrieked as his arms slinked around her waist, then giggled in delight at the weight and closeness of him. She didn’t much care for the acrid stench of lime, though kept this to herself.,


On Monday, after the rest of the weekend had been filled with songs and laughter, of lovemaking and a the Apprentice marathon, Jason rose and went to work. As he snuck from the bedroom, Demarara whispered, "are you the Nuneaton Scythe?" The possibility had come to her during the night, making her sit bolt upright, like a typical nightmare sufferer from films.

Jason stopped, his silhouette haggard and large in the half-light. The one that the media reckoned had been the last thing that seventeen souls had seen, many of them bus drivers.

"Is that cool?" he asked, shyly.

On your way, soldier, she laughed, awash with relief, and happiness, and love. She would spend the rest of the day in the sewing room, darning his boiler suits, sighing knowingly at the immovable biological remnants of his victims. When Jason came home that night, looking every part the terror-stricken bus driver (he was wearing one’s face), she rolled her eyes, thinking, okay buddy. Don’t spoil it.

Short Story

About the author

jamie harding

Novelist (writing as LJ Denholm) - Under Rand Farm - available in paperback via Amazon and *FREE* via Kindle Unlimited!

Short story writer - Mr. Threadbare, Farmer Young et al

Humour writer - NewsThump, BBC Comedy.

Kids' writer - TBC!

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