Short stories to be consumed with a favourite beverage
Tuesday, 21 June 2022
The City of Neon Lights by D.J.J. Mizzi, oat milk latte,
He was one in five million, and as significant as a trodden
pebble, or a flickering light at the end of an empty alleyway. His kind were
more common than the crumpled cigarette butts that littered the city
The people marched in crowds around the tall city buildings as the
neon lights flashed above them, the lights they worshipped dearly. For they
never let it out of their sight, they cradled it in their hands, and bowed down
to it, paying homage to it in their homes. A single man among them was dressed
in long trousers and a black coat. He made his way down the bustling night-time
street, the careless shoulders of the mindless walking figures bumping him on
the way. He stopped for a moment, turned, and etched his way down a dark alley;
a shortcut to avoid the crowd. After a few turns, he found himself on another
street – he walked to the end of the city block and then entered one of the
many towering buildings.
His living room was dark, his computer screen was light. The
one-bedroom apartment smelled of dirty dishes and old Chinese takeaway
Tap, tap, tap. That was the sound of his keyboard amongst the
noise of the traffic far, far below him. Click, click. He opened another window
and looked at her profile. Last online: 1782 days ago. There
was a picture of a beautiful girl, with long black hair and sea-blue
eyes. She had been different, but she had
gone, and he had not seen her for a long time.
He closed her old profile and re-opened the
Are you still there? He wrote.
Yes I’m here, are you free tomorrow night?
I’m not doing anything.
He would have loved to suggest meeting up somewhere first, maybe
getting something to eat, going for a walk. That’s what he would have asked
if she were still here, but it was more likely that this new
girl would just sleep with him, turn over, scroll on her device and fall
asleep. If he was lucky they would roll smokes together and maybe he would get
a ‘goodbye’ in the morning.
Perfect. See you tomorrow.
He was always meeting up with the girls he met online, the ones
who posted pictures of themselves in short skirts and low-cut tops. The ones who
he hoped would help him forget, or even distract him for a while. But they
never did. His thoughts always wandered back to her. She had
been unlike the rest of the world, who were noisy but never spoke. Always
preferring pixels to faces. She had the kind of attention for
people that they didn’t deserve. The problem had been that he was exactly like
the rest of the world.
The windows popped up and closed around him. Forums. Games.
They had both worked for the same company – that was how they had
met. She changed jobs frequently so it didn’t stay that way
for long, but she had seemed to take an interest in him and
they had continued to meet up and talk. She seemed to put up
with his flaws and he thought it was going to be that forever kind of love,
like they were immune to the corruption of the world or some shit like that.
But it all disappeared when he began seeing his screen more than her.
There’s no such thing as a lasting relationship these days mate.
Divorce rates are through the roof.
I know. I thought this one might be different. Seeing someone else
Don’t get too invested.
He had tried to message her after she had left,
but she had never really spent much time online, and soon her presence
in the online world disappeared entirely. And the truth was that he was still
the same person he had been, he hadn’t changed at all since she had
left. This city, this age had taken him and molded him, and he belonged to it.
He didn’t deserve her. She deserved more than him.
He stared at his beautiful screen, his lover that he had settled
He took another last look at her profile for the
Last online: 1783 days ago.
That was how many days he had been lonely for.
About the author
D.J.J.Mizzi is an avid writer and has been writing for as long as he can remember. His favourite genre is fantasy.