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art by Jonathan Westbrook

You've Ruined This For Me

Ewan C. Forbes lives and writes in Aberdeen, Scotland. This is his first published fantasy story. He said to say hello and to wish you well.

The skies were burning outside my window but I paid them no heed. During a break up, it is amazing how long it takes for information from the outside world to seep through. My phone had been ringing for days but I was in no mood to talk. When I finally noticed the storm outside it seemed fitting. As far as I was concerned it was pathetic fallacy.
I moped around the flat. Moping was all I had the energy for. I tried to do it without looking at things. Everything reminded me of her: the photos, the dirty dishes, the books, the posters. Everything. I noticed that the t-shirt I was wearing was one that she had bought me. I use her shampoo, so even my hair reminded me of her. I cut it off.
I tried to go back to bed. Before her, I used to sleep on the left. Later, facing the wall was the norm because the left became her side and I didn't want to choke on her hair as I slept. I tried sleeping on the left again but I got no satisfaction, and so I turned over, defeated. The screams from the street outside made sleep difficult to achieve, but I'm a pro and soon I was napping.
When I woke up I was thirsty, so I went downstairs to make some tea. As I added the milk I realized I'd made tea her way, with the milk added before the teabag was removed. Betrayed by my autopilot. As I sipped the tea I looked around the room. I counted the items that, before her, I would have bought in different brands: washing-up liquid, the detergent, the soy sauce, the bread, the olive oil... Then I counted the electrical items that belonged to her: the toaster, the microwave, the grill, the electric tin-opener...
"Pretty soon it's just gonna be me and you," I said to the kettle.
I turned the television on. I wasn't ready to take in information but I was sick of silence. I pressed buttons on the remote randomly, flicking through with no care for what channels came up or what was on them. Everything looked the same. There seemed to be a lot of news on these days. My persistent channel-surfing limited my awareness to the bare details: earthquakes here, typhoons there, hurricanes to the North, forest fires to the South. Nobody looked happy. The phone started to ring again. I ignored it. Eventually, after what might have been hours, I fell asleep again.
When I woke up the television was silent. "Due to technical difficulties we are unable to continue the broadcast" was a message that seemed to crop up on about half the channels I flicked through. The rest seemed to have a lot of people singing hymns. I hate Sunday television.
I made some more tea. The phone started ringing again and, in a moment of weakness, I picked up. I could barely make out what was going on. The line was bad.
Static followed by the faint sound of somebody's voice. I couldn't make it out.
"The line's bad, call back later."
It is horrible to note just how obsessed with another person it is possible to become. Some people get obsessed early on, others afterwards. I chose afterwards, although I was now beginning to wish I hadn't. I tried to think about what I'd do now, who I'd contact. Everyone knew both of us. If it turned out that our friends chose sides, I knew that my lot wouldn't be large enough to put together a football team, even a five-a-side. Despite not becoming obsessed, I'd let my friendships fall by the wayside. Friendships are like flowers: if they are not maintained they wither and die. I was down to my cactus-friends. I thought about calling one of them later, letting them know what happened. Maybe I'd do it, I'd have to see.
I spent an hour deleting photographs on the computer, then another hour cutting up photos in the real world. Neither task gave me any happiness. I figured it was probably time to talk to somebody.
I picked up the phone intending to call my friend Dean. We hadn't talked in months but that didn't matter to either of us. The line was dead. It seemed contact with the outside world would require leaving the house. I wasn't ready for that.
I sat on the couch. It was loud outside; I could hear it through the closed windows. I imagined all the plans we had made for the future that would now never come to pass. I lost myself in my thoughts until I heard gunfire outside. I put the television back on to drown it out and rolled over to fall asleep.
I don't know how much later it was when the doorbell rang. I sat up, noticing that the "technical difficulties" message was up on the TV again. Again the doorbell rang. I got up and answered it.
"Mark, how are you?" I asked with little emotion in my voice.
"Where the hell have you been? I tried to call you before all the phones went down."
"I've been right here."
He didn't look good. He had a gash on his forehead, encrusted with black-red flakes of dried blood. His clothes were filthy and he looked like he hadn't slept in days.
"Are you alright? You wanna come in and clean up a bit?"
"There's no time, Man, we've got to get out of here."
From down the street there came the sound of screaming, followed by the roar of some unearthly beast and the crash of falling masonry.
"Listen Man," I said, "I'm not really in the mood to be going out. I've just been dumped and I don't really fancy it."
"What the hell are you talking about?" He didn't look at me, his gaze held steadily, unblinking, down the street. I've never seen him so worried. "Listen, grab some things--shove them in a bag--meet me at mine in twenty minutes. Take a knife, the biggest one." He turned to me then. "I'll see you soon."
He slapped me on the shoulder and turned to run down the street in the opposite direction of all the noise. I watched him run for a bit. It began to rain, I felt it on my cheek first. It felt warm and viscous. I touched my face with my hand and then looked at it. It was blood. It started to get heavy and stain my clothes, so I went inside.
I slept badly that night, the noise outside reached a crescendo around three a.m. but I'd done so much sleeping lately that I seemed to be losing my talent for it as a result. I eventually fell asleep around five. When I awoke around eleven a.m., feeling unrested and groggy, I noticed that the light was out. I hadn't turned it off. I got up and went to the kitchen. The kettle wouldn't work. Betrayed by my last appliance. I tried a few other things to discover that there was no power. I went through to the living room and looked out the window, the sky was churning black and red. Occasionally it would open and release what looked like meteors, fiery balls of destruction that smashed through the first thing they came into contact with. And then it sunk in:
She wasn't coming back.
As Armageddon raged around me all I could think about was her. With him. Bastard.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Author Comments

This story came complete in a flash just before I went to sleep one night. People who have enjoyed this story might also enjoy the myriad benefits of keeping a notebook beside their bed.

- Ewan C. Forbes
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