1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Winners nibris & AxleMAshcraft Short Story Contest 101: Eavesdropping

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Sep 26, 2011.

    nibris - They Have No Right

    Denmark leaned against the wall just next to the door. He lit another cigarette and listened as the argument in the room behind his back grew more and more heated. It was about him. Denmark smiled to himself. Surprise, surprise. Whenever people had a problem when he was around, it was always him. When he stepped into a room, others would often excuse themselves and step into another room for a 'discussion'. Psh, discussion. Like hell. They weren't even subtle. They'd always be in the other room practically screaming, listing the reasons he shouldn't be allowed to step foot in their home. Then the sympathetic voice would arise, protecting him, defending him like an unwanted, filthy animal that had managed to squeeze in under the door. He knew they looked down on him.

    Asses, all of them. Denmark inhaled and the red glow of his cigarette hovered in the darkness of the hallway. Had he been into some pretty sketchy stuff a few years back? Sure. He'd s snorted the occasional line, shot up, even got a few felonies tacked onto his record. That was behind him though, and he wasn't going to apologize for something he had already cut out of his life. Not that he was perfect now. So he smoked, big deal. He didn't finish college, so what? He didn't grow up in the avenues like these rich creeps, does that really give them the right to treat him like he's subhuman? He was disgusted by these people and felt tempted to walk straight out of the house and never look back.

    He sighed.

    Except that he knew he couldn't. If it was anyone else in the world, Denmark wouldn't have had any qualms about saying, 'up yours' and completely cutting them out of his life. He couldn't do it though, not to Jake. He and Jake were too close. It would've been a cardinal sin not see his best friend off in the morning.

    Provided Jake's parents let him.

    Denmark sucked the end of his cigarette, listening more intently on the conversation in the dining room.

    "No. He's not coming. I don't care what you say, I won't allow it."

    "I know how you feel about Denmark, and I feel the same way. But please, at least think about it, honey. He's our son's closest friend."

    "Do you not remember what happened last time? Jack was about to be shipped out, already packed up and everything, then that...that son of a bitch kidnapped our son! We didn't see him for weeks! Don't you remember how terrified we were? That's not friendship, it's obsession! It's wrong, Deborah. I put up with it for a while, but it ends now."

    "It was a hard time for everyone. Denmark loves our son, he just couldn't bear the thought of being separated from him. We all thought Jack would have more time before he had to leave, it was a shock to all of us."

    A sigh. "I understand and appreciate the value of a good friend, sweetheart, really I do, but this Denmark kid is simply not stable! I don't want to risk anything like that again."

    "You think it would be better not to let Denmark see off his best friend?"

    "In this case, I honestly do. The guy's not right. If Denmark is seen around our house tomorrow, God help me I'll call the police and I'll press charges. It wouldn't be the first time we've had to, to protect our family..."

    Denmark had heard enough. 'Protect' their family. Protect their pride and good name from an urban boy is all.They had no right to do this. He and Jake were like brothers. But at the same time, he wasn't going to get screwed over like that again just to say bye to his friend. He pulled out his wallet and snubbed out his cigarette on the back, where he'd glued a strip of sandpaper. He waved the smoke out of the air and found a legal pad sitting on the end table in the hallway. He pulled out a pen and scribbled a message, which read:

    Mr. and Mrs. Keslar, you two know that out of anyone in the world, no one means more to me than your son. He's my best friend, he has been since we were six years old. But I've been doing some thinking lately, and I made an important realization. He was my best friend, but I was never his best friend. He felt closest to me, but I was never the best for him. Hell, I was never even good for him. He has plenty of other pals who support him and make him a better person. It kills me to say this, but I was never that kind of friend for him. He lifted me up, but I pulled him down. That's why I made the decision not to come to say bye to him with all his other friends tomorrow. I love the guy with all my heart, but frankly, I think we all know I'm not what he needs, and it might just be better for everyone if he gets sent off tomorrow without me there



    Denmark waited in his car. Hours passed, and still he waited, ruminating. They weren't going to do this to him. He knew if he tried to go tomorrow, there'd be serious repercussions. But what he'd written in the note was true: he wouldn't be there in the morning. He'd be there tonight. He'd spend one last night with his friend, and there wasn't a damn soul who would stop him.

    And so he waited. He waited until the lights in Jake's house blinked out one by one and the stars were obscured by storm clouds. Rain started falling, and even though the house had been dark for over an hour, still Denmark waited. When he was finally sure that everyone was asleep, he stepped out of the car. He left the door open. Jake's family was full of light sleepers, and he didn't want to risk waking anyone up with the slam of a car door.

    Slowly and methodically, he walked up the porch steps, avoiding the creaky areas. He slid a wood panel out from the door frame and removed the spare key the family kept there. Silently, he unlocked the front door and entered the house. He made his way through the darkened house until he found the room Jake was in.

    Denmark opened his phone, casting a faint blue glow on Jake's resting body. Jake's eyes were closed, but still, Denmark walked up to him, whispering softly.

    "Hey, buddy." He stopped and stood still. "I...I know they're gonna take you away tomorrow, man. I wish there was something I could do about it. I mean, it pisses me off, it's not fair that they can do this. What gives them the right? Seriously, you and I are brothers, we're closer than brothers. Inseparable."

    Denmark felt like an idiot getting so emotional when he wasn't even sure whether his friend could hear him or not. Despite his efforts to restrain it, burning tears slid down his cheeks and his voice cracked as he spoke.

    "Heh, hey man, remember that time I totally got shot down by Tiffany, so in the middle of anthropology you got up in her face and were all, 'what you got against Denmark?' and she says, 'the guy's a major creep, he looks weird and he's retarded,' so you convinced her brother to pretend to be my boyfriend for a week? I've never seen anyone so mindscrewed before, she thought her entire life was getting shot straight to hell."

    Denmark smiled and wiped his eyes.

    "Or the time you were totally plastered and picked a fight with that guy at the bar who turned out to be a UFC fighter so I had to step in for you? Damn man, that guy would've torn you apart! You have any idea how terrified I was? But I knew I couldn't just stand back and watch you get destroyed, I had to get between you two. And then the next thing I remember being in the backseat of your cousin's Mazda on the way to the hospital with a shattered jaw and broken arm, bleeding all over the place."

    Jake's eyes remained closed and Denmark felt stupid. This was a waste, just sitting here reminiscing to himself.

    "Look, Jake. I don't care what anyone says. No one's taking you anywhere tomorrow. You're comin' with me."

    He lifted Jake in his arms and carried him out to the front porch. The rain had wettened the wood beams. When Denmark tried to walk down the steps, he stumbled and dropped Jake, who fell and hit his head on the sidewalk with a grotesque crack. Denmark scrambled forward and knelt before his friend, holding his head off the pavement. Jake's eyes were wide open, staring up blankly at Denmark. His mouth hung open slackly; the string that had been holding his mouth shut severed. Embalming fluid leaked from a gash in his forehead.

    Denmark sighed in relief.

    "I was worried for a second. You don't look so bad though." Denmark stood, brushed himself off, then grabbing Jake by the ankles, dragged his friend to the car and loaded him inside.

    ---------- Post added at 04:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:37 PM ----------

    AxleMAshcraft - Paper-Thin Walls

    The dark hit her eyes, leaving no light for her to turn to, just the dark. Her hands slowly wrapped around her sheets as her head pounded more and more. The throbbing of her head sounded too loud, and even as she tried to take deep breaths, it rattled down through her.
    Her lips quivered as her eyes started to burn and tears slowly moved down her face, hitting the pillow with little pats. She wiped a hand across her face unceremoniously and she moved her hands back to wrap around the sheets, trying to stop them from shaking out of her control.
    The dream she had woken up from was horrible, just horrible and nothing she could do could block out the images that flashed behind her eyes. She couldn’t place them, but they were horrid. Bits and pieces of everything good in her life falling down and smashing like a mirror on sidewalk.
    But what she woke up to was almost worse.
    The minute she opened her eyes, she knew it was worse. Because instead of being able to wake up in the end, she just had to grin and bear it. And in the morning she would get up and act as if nothing had happened. Her friends would see her smiling and laughing because that’s all she knew how to do, and she didn’t know how to ask for help.
    She let out another rattled breath.
    The outline of mangled furniture and half packed boxes made shadows of darker black against the already dark. The reality of what was going on in her life hit her like a rock.
    “We need to sell more things.”
    “We’re trying.”
    “Well it’s not working.”
    “She’s working.”
    “But she isn’t helping.”
    There was silence for a second as she rolled over in bed, putting her knees against the wall and staring at the roughness of the wall in front of her. Willing it to be over. Willing never to wake up.
    “You need to start doing more.”
    “I’m doing what I can.”
    “You need to step it up.”
    He yelled something that she couldn’t make out, slamming the door behind him as he took off down the stairs, his feet making an echo that shook the pictures on the walls.
    She had heard the beginning of the end. She had heard what started this whole thing in motion. And she heard it every night until she finally was willing to put the pieces together.
    “We need to get more money.” “You need to get a job.” “You need to stop being needy.” “You need to tell her that…” “I can’t afford this anymore.” “I can’t stand you anymore.” “Listen, these are your responsibilities.” “These are your choices that you need to make.” “The kids are depending on you.” “You need to leave me alone.” “You need to leave.”
    She had heard the beginning of what sent her downhill so quickly. She had heard the beginning of what lead her to stand in the shower, silent and naked, drawing a knife across her stomach. Watching the blood slowly trickled down her flesh, watching the skin rise to little red lines. She had heard the beginning of what made her crazy.

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