Friday, 14 February 2020

Curbed

by Hannah Retallick

milkshake

Valentine’s Day. It’s the perfect time for all this. Crunchy, bright and hopeful. We stroll in silence towards the library, as usual, and are daring enough not to wait for the zebra crossing. Look right look left look right again.
Time to make it happen. I could give her a sharp shove sideways, just for fun, you know? A distantly approaching car is crawling along and we can easily amble to the other side of the road without being at risk, but it would be a good joke. Saved your life!
She won’t expect it. Her ankles will turn in those black heeled boots, slipping on the frosty tarmac. She’ll let out a scream and hit the curb. Crack! The car won’t stop because the driver will see that the woman is with a lad, a we’re-just-friends lad; hand in his pocket rather than around hers. The driver will assume he’ll take care of her. And, of course, he will take care of her. It was his fault after all.
Jake! she’ll cry. What you doing?
I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I’ll drag her onto the pavement, squat down and check she’s okay, which she obviously won’t be. She’ll push me away, wincing, brushing gravel out of the hand that broke her fall. Wrist. Broken or sprained? Or both. Not the best start.
After taking a moment to collect herself, she’ll remember to run her finger under her weepy eyes, scared for the state of her black smudgy what’s-it-thingy. Mascara? (Sounds too much like massacre.)
A significant pause. I’ll draw closer, hoping the fall hasn’t ruined everything. Her dark hair will catch in the winter wind, wisping out of the messy up-do, blowing the scent of apple shampoo towards me. I’ll inhale.
Why did you do that? she’ll ask.
Sorry, it smells nice.
What? I meant the push!
I love you, I’ll blurt.
Excuse me? Expletive expletive expletive. Why did you nearly kill me?
Oh, the hurt in her blue eyes, never mind her wrist! There’s no coming back from that. This girl is a Queen, loved by everyone; I shouldn’t have even touched her. She won’t meet me outside my house next week, won’t text to apologise, and won’t hesitate to find a new study partner. It’s over.
The cold stings my throat. Who am I kidding? I won’t push her. I could never push her. I can’t cause her pain, not ever. So, on second thoughts…When the time is right, I’ll take the red envelope out of my backpack, tap her on the shoulder, and nail my colours. And then she can reject me swiftly, slamming my heart into the tarmac – with her mascara still intact. (Massacre, yep.)
What you smirking at? she says, stepping onto the safe pavement.
Nothing, I say.

About the author

Hannah Retallick is a twenty-five-year-old from Anglesey, North Wales. She was home educated and then studied with the Open University, graduating with a First-class honours degree, BA in Humanities with Creative Writing and Music, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. She is working on her second novel and writes short stories and a blog. She was shortlisted in the Writing Awards at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2019, the Cambridge Short Story Prize, and the Henshaw Short Story Competition June 2019. https://ihaveanideablog.wordpress.com/

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