[Monologue] Envy

Another monologue… this time from the suggestion of “Envy”.

Envy

I envy you. I envy your sense of certainty. That you see the world as one or the other. Black or White. The same or different. I just can’t see the world that way. I tried for the longest time, but it never happened.

When I was younger, Looking at the world was painful. Being told there was only two boxes, and no one could explain why. Why it was one or the other. I kept not fitting. I liked things that “weren’t meant for me”, and didn’t care for the things were. I started thinking I was broken somehow. My parents kept telling me I was being difficult, that everyone else was being normal, and I should try harder to fit in. Yeah, my parents. That no one wanted to be with the freak who stood out.

I buried it. I buried that feeling deep. It didn’t go well. I started getting worried my friends would find out. I worked hard at it. I got so good at adopting other people’s voices, that I lost mine in the process. All the while, that feeling simmered. I started feeling resentful that people liked that version of me, and they were trapping me in this world.

So the inevitable happened. I cracked. Through floods of tears I confessed to a close friend how I’d been hiding this part of me. All of it came out. After what felt like years, my friend just looked at me, hugged me and said “me too”. I cried again. A new feeling washed over me. Something I’d never felt before. Joy. Actual, tangible, unimaginable joy.

We’d found each other, and we went on to find others. All the people who didn’t fit in boxes. I saw myself in their eyes. The kid I’d been, and told them what I’d wish I’d heard back then. To say to them that it’s no bad thing to stand out. That you get to set your own terms. That you’re the only one that gets to pick your path.

Which brings us to me envying your certainty. I think I’d want to find that certainty… In the meantime though, you don’t get to use your certainty to deny me a chance to find mine.

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[Monologue] Pool

A Detective gets more than he bargained for… Based on the suggestion of “Pool”.

Of all the ways to go. Face down, floating in a pool.

You get into more than your share of scrapes as a detective. My problem is I’ve always been greedy. Pushed my luck a few too many times. You spend your time chasing spouses down dark alleys, odds are that one of them is going to take it personally. That’s how I ended up with a few more holes than I wanted and taking my final swim.

She’d walked into my office about a week ago. She’d put on the innocent act. Was worried her husband had gotten mixed up in some nasty business. Gambling she thought. Hadn’t been home in days. I ought to have trusted my instincts. There was something in her eyes. I’d never seen eyes that blue before. What I’d thought was sorrow turned out to be something far worse. The tears she wiped away were all part of the show… with me front-row centre.

The man she’d said was her husband was a sap by the name of O’Neil. Worked at the bank. The guard had helped him lock up the vault on the Friday before, he’d seemed on edge. He’d been talking about how he was planning to take his wife up to their cabin for the weekend. Monday came and his car was still in the parking lot. Cops had already searched the cabin, no sign anywhere.

I asked around. Seems O’Neil was a regular at the craps games down on 3rd. It’s the sort of place you go for a cheap thrill, then end up owing the wrong guy a favour. Something felt off about it all. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was being watched. Seems obvious now, but hindsight isn’t much use when you’re looking at St Peter.

A few days later I’d caught up with a buddy of mine. A cop by the name of Flynn. He’d drawn the short straw getting to look into the whole sorry mess. The beancounters had crunched the numbers at the bank and found a cool 100k had vanished. Flynn said something that threw me into a spin. He’d gone to confront the wife. He had it figured he’d skimmed off some cash ready for them both to make a break for it. She’d denied it and broke down in tears. He’d offered her a smoke, but she told him she never touched the stuff. That didn’t tally with when she’d been with me… she’d happily taken cigarettes from me in-between tears. I made my excuses and left. She’d been playing me. I didn’t know what for, but I thought I could start calling the tune.

I went over to the address she’d given me. A cottage out in the ‘burbs. I didn’t know it, but this would be my last drive.

I took in the view. Two of them. They’d been running the con all over the country. They’d get their hooks into a guy, bleed him for cash, then move on. They’d been spotted by a crook named Mitchell, who’d threatened to turn them over to the cops. They’d offered up O’Neil as downpayment on their escape… but one of them had fallen for him. The one I’d met had goaded him into going to the games, which got him into debt. It wasn’t hard then to convince him to skim some cash from the bank. Hell, I’d only known them a few days and I was ready to do the same for them.

I couldn’t figure out why they’d hired me. It turns out they’d wanted me to find out how much the cops knew. They figured I could shake down a few contacts, find out what they were thinking. Now they knew the cops were wise to their scam, they were getting ready to run. The one I’d met locked eyes with me and drew a pistol. The good sister screamed to just let it go and make good their escape before the cops showed up. I swear, she didn’t even blink as she shot her, twice. She pointed the pistol at me as the sounds of sirens and the smell of gunpowder filled the air.

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[Monologue] Wet

In another monologue, a parent comforts a child whilst the wind & rain lashes down outside:

I know you’re scared… but you shouldn’t be. The storm sounds scary, but I want to tell you about another one, a lot like this one… without it, you probably wouldn’t even be here. It’s the storm that brought you Mum into my life…

We were both trying to catch the same bus. I could barely see anything through the rain. My umbrella was ruined, and I saw her running. She slipped and fell. She just lay there for a minute being drenched. She got up and saw me stood there with my broken umbrella under a drip from the shelter and we laughed.

We both blew off work that day. We sat over a radiator at a Costa Coffee, trying to dry ourselves off. I think we both probably looked a bit like loonies, but it was the best day I’d had in ages. I’d never sat and spoken to a complete stranger like that before. Hell, that’s not even the bus I normally go for – nor was it hers. We’d both been running late that day and everythging was going wrong. My laptop broke, she’d had a power cut, I’d had to deal with the cat again, she’d left her lunch at home.

We spent the whole day there. Huddled over the radiator. We’d wander off occasionally for refils. The staff there got to be quite friendly towards the end of the day. They even brought us a little bakewell as a “dessert for our date”. It hadn’t felt like a date. It hadn’t even crossed my mind until they’d said it. Just calling it a date feels wrong. I mean, it felt deep, it felt like it had weight. Not like some of the terrible experiences I’d had dating until that point.

I asked to see her again sometime. She said yes. We went for drinks down by the river. It rained again. We went to the British Museum on another rainy day, and dinner a week or two later… another rainy day. I started to enjoy rainy days. I felt like Gene Kelly prancing around the street.

We went back to the same Costa a year later. Over another bakewell, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. I swear to you, the second she said yes, it started to rain. I actually started to cry.

It didn’t rain at our wedding. It did though when you were born. I remember being worried we’d crash on the way to the hospital, or that there’d be a snarlup, and all sorts of nasty things would end up happening. She was such a rock that day, she was in labor, and telling me to brethe.

So, you don’t need to be afraid of the storm, little one. You’re a child of the storm. Your Mum is the storm. We’re the storm. You’re going to take that and change the world, like Mum changed mine.

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[Story] Screaming

This one was deep in the drafts archive. I thought I’d published it a while back, but having been back through the whole thing, I couldn’t see it anywhere, so it gives me a chance to clean out what’s in the cupboard, whilst working on some new bits.

Screaming

Relentless screaming. Eyes burning, throat dry and a head full of screams.

His eyes open, shapes drifted in and out of focus. Looking around, blurred shapes became familiar objects. The alarm clock screaming “09:00” and a voice taunting him…

“Shouldn’t you be at work by now?”

Looking around, clothes, beer bottles and take-away cartons carpet the room.

“This place is disgusting…”

Getting to his feet, the voice continues.

“What’s this, the 10th time? 15th? People might be starting to think you have a problem…”

The voice comes from a smartly-dressed man in the corner, his gazed fixed, and a wolfish smile. A young man with short neat hair and dressed impeccably. He sticks out amongst the detritus, but is somehow familiar…

“You best make yourself presentable” he says.

“Why?”

The Stranger points over to the door, where a young woman stands. Slim, dark hair, she stands in the doorway wearing one of his shirts. She hands him a glass of water, and opens the curtains, flooding the room with light. He winces…

“Jeez Tom” she sighs “You really need to fix this fucking mess…”

Tom looks over, through the pain he can see her, haloed by the light. He nods sheepishly. The Stranger scrutinizes her, following her around as she hunts for her clothes.

“I don’t know why you let her boss you around Tommy…”

“What?” says Tom.

“I didn’t say anything” she replies, puzzled.

The Stranger gives Tom a playful shrug as he watches her getting dressed.

“Can you even say her name?” he asks

Tom racks his brain, the word forms in his brain, but he just can’t get it out.

“Sorry, hearing things… I should get dressed” he mumbles.

Rushing to the bathroom, he closes the door and slumps down against it. Trying to figure out what’s going on. His eyes close for a second and the voice returns.

“You never did answer my question… how many times does today make it?”

The Stranger looks on from the bathtub, playing with the rubber ducks.

“What the fuck are you doing in here?” exclaims Tom.

The Stranger feigns disgust

“No need for language… I’m just making conversation”

“She didn’t say anything when you asked about her bossing me…”

The stranger smiles and shrugs as Tom staggered to the shower. Switching it on, he looks back to the bathtub, and the Stranger has vanished. Stepping in, everything fades away as the warm water cascades over his face. He sees flashes of her face, her smile, and her eyes. He drifts off further. Flashes of the park. Her next to him. On top of him. Kissing him.

Suddenly, Panic. Running. He can’t see her anymore. Where did she go? Why can’t he find her?

Banging. Screaming. More running. Unfamiliar streets and dark alleys. Where is she? A figure… her? No… The Stranger. He’s pointing. More screaming. He doesn’t want to look where he’s pointing.

Banging.

“Tom!” he hears a shout “Tom!”

Something grabs him. He struggles, they fall to the floor.

“Tom! snap out of it! Tom!”

It’s her. He’s in his bathroom. He’s naked and on top of her. She looks terrified. The Stranger is standing in the doorway.

“I wish I had my phone…” he chuckles.

She wriggles and pushes to get free. Tom slumps to the ground, dazed.

“What’s…? Why?”

She throws a towel around him. She looks scared and tries to console him as The Stranger looks on, disgusted.

“Oh for fuck’s sake… You’re going to cry now? What the fuck’s wrong with you?”

“Just focus on my voice, Tom” she says, whispering in his hear.

“No wonder you’re such a fucking mess” shouts The Stranger.

“Let everything else fade away” she continues.

“You pathetic little shit” screams The Stranger as he lunges at them.

Curling into a ball, Tom screams, but nothing happens. Opening his eyes, it’s just her there. Crying and holding him.

“Tom, please come back to me” she pleads.

He looks around for The Stranger, nowhere to be seen. He grabs onto her.

“Please don’t leave me Annie…” he whimpers as he closes his eyes again.

“Shush. I’m always here”.

His eyes open. She’s gone. He’s alone, cold & wet on the bathroom floor.

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Story: Blink, Blink, Blink

Another story, this time on the suggestion of “Blink”

“I don’t know what to write. I don’t.
Blink, blink, blink.
I’ve been trying for months to come up with something. I sit down every day. Every day. I look up at the screen and all I can see is that cursor blinking at me. It just sits there, like it’s daring me to write something, just anything.
Blink, blink, blink.
You know, the other day I sat looking at that screen for 4 hours. I didn’t move. I sat there just staring at that cursor, hoping something would come. Nothing. Just that blinking cursor.
Blink, blink, blink.
Words used to just flow, y’know? I’d just sit there, my hands would cross the keyboard and entire pages would just appear. It was good too… I didn’t even have to… I remember that first book. The feeling when that was finished. Urgh. I’d give anything for that feeling again. I can’t though, can I?
Blink, blink, blink.
I tried writing longhand. I hadn’t picked up a pen like that in so long. It felt strange, that weight in the hand, the feel of the paper. Nothing came. Staring at it, all I could see was that cursor again. Blinking on the paper.
Blink, blink, blink.
I know. I swear though, it was there. Right there on the paper. I shrugged it off, that I was just tired. I see it everywhere now though.
Blink, blink, blink.
I look in the mirror in the morning, it’s there.
Blink, blink, blink.
I look through a window.
Blink, blink, blink.
My glasses.
Blink, blink, blink.
It sits there. It wants my words. It isn’t going to stop until it has them all.
Blink, blink, blink.
There isn’t anyway to satisfy it.
Blink, blink, blink.
I’m sorry.
Blink. Blink. Blink.

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Monologue: Distant

Another monologue… this time on a suggestion of “Distant”.

It’s over. Truth be told, I think we’ve both known that for some time. I mean, how long has it been since we’ve even been in the same room together? 

I’ve had a lot of time to think. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of time apart. I don’t think I’ve slept properly in a while because of it. I keep replaying everything over in my head. I blamed you for a long time. Did I tell you that? I hated that you made me feel this way, that I was growing resentful of myself. Then I realised that it wasn’t your fault. I was making me feel this way. I got so caught up in feeling angry and feeling sorry for myself that I hadn’t realised I was dragging you into it all.

You don’t need my permission to be angry with me, I know that. But you have it. I do still love you. I hope you know that too. It’s just that relationships can adn do end, y’know? Trying ot hold on to them when they’re not what you need at that point in time just makes things worse. I know if I try to keep you here, you’ll end up hating me, and I don’t want that.

I forgot that you have your shit do deal with. I forgot that it’s my job to help you with that. I forgot that we’re a team, and we have our shit to deal with. I made it all about me, when I should have been making it about us. That’s on me. I did this to us. Not you. I should have realised how insensitive I was being. I won’t try to explain why I did what I did. I had no business interfering with what you tell your family. That’s for you. I had no business trying to force the issue. I know you don’t have the same relationship with your family that I do with mine. That always sat oddly with me. That first Christmas we had at your parents’ place? Remember? For what it’s worth, I think your Mum already knew. They always seem to know.

There’s no point in dragging this out. I thought long and hard about it, and I’d really like us to part as friends. I think we had a really good time togther in between the shitshow. I’d like to keep remembering that part. You’ve been an incredible part of my life, and I can’t even begin to thank you for that. That’s the part I want to keep. I don’t want arguments & recriminations to taint that. That’s not up to me though, I guess. 

I do still love you. It’s not the love we started with, but it’s there, and it’s strong. I can only hope you’re able to forgive me someday, then maybe I can forgive myself for putting you in that position.

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Story: Trophy

Another monologue… This time from a suggestion of “Trophy”:

It’s weird, right? Stressing over something so small. I mean, it shouldn’t be that big a deal, but it is. It’s my trophy. I won it. I put in the hours and effort, I sacrificed for it, it’s mine.

I mean, she doesn’t even want it. She said so.

She said to me “Karen, I don’t care if I win”.

That drives me crazy. How could you not want to win? Isn’t that the point? I mean, why take part if you’re not wanting to win? What is the actual point? Dad always said “If you’re not a winner, then you’re a loser, and we’re not a family of losers”. So that’s driven me all through my life. I have to be first. I have to be the one to win. Nothing else matters. The highest grades in school, medals at the sports days, being top of the class. Nothing else matters.

Nothing.

If I don’t win, then I’m out. I’m a winner. I always have been and always will. It’s what’s important. Dad would always take me for a reward when I won. We’d spend time together, he’d ask me about how I won, what the reaction of the other kids was, could I do something else to win better next time? It’s the only time I ever saw him smile was when he talked about how to crush the losers in my life. I live for those moments with him. He told me once that one of his biggest disappointments in life was that his first child was me. He wanted a son… that’s how he’d know he was a winner. His brother didn’t have kids, so he’d be the winner in that competition. Raise a male heir to carry on his line.

He got me though. He blamed Mum for that. I have a memory of them screaming at each other when I was young about how she was trying to ruin him. For as long as I can remember, they’ve slept in separate rooms. They never paid me any attention growing up… Nanny ended up raising me. She’s the one who helped me to my first win. She helped me train to win the egg & spoon race at School. That first one was amazing. I left everyone else in the dust. Everyone cheering for me when I crossed that line. Bliss.

When we got home that day, Dad saw us coming in and saw the trophy. He smiled and said “Well done”. The first thing he’d said to me in months. I knew from that point on what I had to do. I had to win at everything. So I did. Every race, every competition, everything. Every time I came home with a trophy, he’d say something to me. He said to me once that “maybe a daughter wasn’t so bad after all”. I almost cried.

I put all my attention where it needed to be. On winning. Nothing else matters. Did I tell you my school report said once “She needs to realise that there’s more to life than winning”? Dad was particularly pleased with that. He said to me “Karen, this teaches you the most important lesson of all. To identify those who’ll drag you down and to cut them out of your life. Anyone who isn’t pushing you to be your best is worthless to you”. I cut everyone else out of my life. The only thing that matters was winning. If I set my mind to it, it was mine. That’s how I got to be where I am. Liv doesn’t care if she wins. Doesn’t that tell you something? Liv is satisfied with second. How can she be satisfied with second? How is that not eating her up? How does that not feel like a thousand stabs in her chest? How does that not burn her up? I don’t get it. What drives her if it’s not the need to win? Why does she even bother to get up? She’s got kids, and she doesn’t care about winning? What kind of message is that to them? They’ll grow up to be losers.

Like me.

No. No, she cheated. I can’t be a loser. I don’t lose. My family aren’t a bunch of losers. Dad said so. I can’t let him see me being a loser.

I can’t.

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