101 Word Short Stories by Karin Matthews
Karin Matthews is a writer from Gloucestershire. She studied English and Creative Writing in Liverpool where she began a project; every day she selects a random title and writes a 101 word story.
Brittle nails. Yellowing teeth. Scarred lips, and burnt finger tips. Your hair falls limp and unwashed, sticking to your pale, gaunt features. Those eyes hold no trust, no compassion, they’re just bitter, twisted balls buried in your skull. You pull at the threads of your worn jumper, the material unravels; the words you need are there on your lips but either pride or stupidity restrains you from calling for my help. And I will not reach for your hand unless you ask. I can only watch your brilliance as it fades away.
At first it was all just noise. Constant and loud, screaming through the glass of my window so that not even the curtains would shut it out at night. My eyes, my body, my mind; all so tired from the noise, the bustling that refused to be still, refused to be silenced. But slowly, ever so slowly the commotion becomes a beat which soon becomes a rhythm. It hums away like a lullaby, singing me to sleep. Reassuring me that the world outside is still turning. Finally, I fall asleep, my heart beating to the rhythm of the city.
My tears have created an ocean. My fear churns the water into stormy waves. I lie in my little boat being tossed from side to side, each new wave threatens to tip me over, throw me into the dark depths. I know it is only a matter of time before I am fed to these monstrous waves. Then, through my darkness, there is hope. You draw closer and closer; calming my waters, pulling me to shore, guiding me around my rocks of self-doubt. You take my hand; my saviour, my light house.
I created you. Your voice. Your personality. Your mind. All your life, all your history, pieced together on bus journeys. Day by day this life unfolds in my imagination, I put it to paper and my words give you form. I love you. You understand me better than anyone and I’ve become accustomed to thinking for us both. But you only really exist in my mind. On the page. You are my character, I am your author. For me to love you would be narcissistic.
These walls have become my safe-haven; locked away from passing pedestrians and the perilous midnight streets. The sun sets, darkness embraces the room like a blanket. Childish security. The days flow into one another, I crave the outdoors. I crave companionship but I am trapped, by my own insecurities.
I think of you as I go about my life. I think of you as I take opportunities that come my way. What would you say about what I am doing? What would you think about my life and how I have chosen to live it? Are you proud of what I am Daddy? Do you boast to your friends about what I have achieved; what I have become? Mamma says it’s pointless; my endeavour to please you. But I can’t help it. I need your approval, some indication that your little girl has got it right.
I wonder if Shakespeare had days like this. Days when everything is so dull and uninspiring. A tree is just a tree, a breeze a breeze. But that’s the problem — there is no life. Everything seems so dead and sullen. The way the light hits the earth has left it in a haze of nothingness, colours seem pastel, the sounds un-tuned, the smells leave a bitter taste. Where are the voices in my head today? The ones that whisper. They must be on holiday, because my head feels as empty as my page.
It’s cruel. Of all the people in the world, I had to fall for you. The one person I know is no good for me. You bring out my worst qualities. Mother says I don’t smile any more, that I should let you go. I’ve tried. Tried to run as far from you as I can, but I’m stuck, stuck like my ankles are held fast by the worry that there will never be anyone else. There’s nothing I can do. Why? Why does it have to be you?
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most damaged one of all? A girl looks back from beyond the glass. She’s broken; eyes bleeding mascara, leaving black trails down her cheeks. Her lip is cracked; blood settled in the gaps of her teeth and dotted on her cotton shirt. A puffy bruise frames her left eye, it looks fresh; but her jaw is contoured with yellow. Behind her a man is in the doorway. ‘I’m sorry’ he whispers and you see her forgive.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most foolish one of all?
Karin posts the best of her 101 word stories on her projects blog. If you’ve enjoyed her work you can find more here.
Our thanks to Karin for sharing her work with Planet Slop.