A Shoebox III

Posted: August 19, 2010 in #fridayflash, A Shoebox, Short stories

Two strangers talking about such serious matters, with years of emotions and uncertainty from both sides was a strange and unnerving situation. Like a bridge made of paper, it was only a matter of time before one end folded, or buckled under the pressure.

She sat silently, in the living room of her father’s house, questions spinning in her head as if she was a washing machine stuck on the spin cycle. Her dad appeared in the doorway, emerged from his bedroom from a restless nights sleep, standing slightly hunched and his bottom lip quivering with the realisation his wife had gone.

“She’s gone. I didn’t even say goodbye.” He wiped a tear from his eye and fell to his knees. “This is all my fault Gem. All of it!”

“How is this your fault?” She wanted to go and comfort him, rub his back; hold his hand; but she couldn’t. It was as if a force field was pushing her onto the seat every time she even flinched or hinted at getting to her feet to go to him.

He sniffled and sat with his back against the wall, starring at her. “I was 8 when Billy was born, by the time he was old enough to play out or even be remotely interesting to a young boy, I was grown up and at college. I came home, ate then went out with my friends. By the time he was 10, I took him with me, took him to pubs, parties and round to my friends houses. I introduced him to girls and top shelf magazines, my mates and me treated him like our own student, teaching him things an 11 year old probably shouldn’t be taught.” He looked up at her for reassurance, “I was 19 when I first tried cannabis and he was 11.”

“You can’t blame yourself for how he turned out dad. You shouldn’t of left. None of us will ever forgive you for that, but its not your fault he did what he did!”

As if he hadn’t heard her, he continued reminiscing, starring vividly into the open space between them “…my best mate Kingsley.” He chuckled “Mark Kingsley, the ‘king’ people called him. He was a womaniser, a complete male tart. He had women hanging off his arms wherever we went out. Of course I’d met your mother by then, so it didn’t affect me. He used to gaud me about it though, ‘a one-woman man; you can’t be my friend’ and he’d put his arm around my shoulder and laugh. But Billy, Billy thought he really was the king and admired him like a celebrity icon. He hung on his every word, like a starving child under a slow dripping tap.” He looked up at her briefly, before rubbing his eyes.

“When we finished University and I moved back to my home town, with your mother. Kingsley followed. Billy was stuck to him like glue. He wasn’t the kid brother I left behind. He was obsessed with girls and women, expecting them to fall at his feet like they did for Kingsley. Only he didn’t have the charm and a perfect ‘inflexible’ quiff, like Kingsley did. Don’t get me wrong, Billy was a funny guy and great person to go out with, but he was a nightmare if he didn’t get his own way and was a real arrogant brat.”

Gemma starred at him, like a child listening intently to her dad read a bedtime story, hoping for a fairytale ending. Her longing big bright eyes, reminded him of the days he had put her to bed.

His guilt made him turn to look at the floor.

“Billy and Kingsley were often around mine and your mothers first place together. A 1 bed flat in the centre of the town. Expensive!” he raised his eyebrows. “Anyway, Billy and Kingsley came around one Sunday afternoon, telling me of their adventure the night before. A regular occurrence. Your mum was in the kitchen cooking us a roast. They’d been out drinking and got chatting to a group of young girls. Kingsley invited two for them back with them to his place for a nightcap. Then Billy said something very alarming. I thought at the time, he’d gone too far, it wasn’t funny.”

He felt uneasy about carrying on. This was his daughter he was divulging information to.

“Gem, its not nice!”

A worried expression appeared on his face, like someone had let out a silent, smelly gas from their rear and he was scared it was him, but hadn’t realised.

“Dad, you’ve got this far. It might help me understand.”

“When they got to Kingsley’s, they all sat around drinking until Kingsley and his ‘lady friend’ went upstairs. Which left Billy downstairs with the other young girl. They kissed and from what Billy said things got quite heated, until she asked him to stop. Billy didn’t see why she should lead him on and then drop him at the last minute when he was so aroused. So he held her down and continued to kiss her. She struggled and he wrestled her back to the ground thinking it of a game. When she kneed him in the crown jewels, he decided enough was enough. He tied her hands together with his tie and left her on the front-porch in nothing but her underwear until the morning. He thought it was hilarious. I should’ve acted then, when the first incident occurred. Kingsley pulled me aside and he was unnerved with the situation too. I knew things weren’t right in his head. Instead I left it and the problems grew.”

He turned to Gemma his eyes burning like hot coals, blood shot and with so much pain and regret, discolouring the iris part in his eyes. “So you see it was my fault. He was like that because of me and I allowed him to turn into the monster that later took your mother from me. She never forgave me and I don’t blame her. I couldn’t bear to see the pain in her eyes. The guilt just ate away at me Gem. I’m Sorry”.

  1. J Dane Tyler says:

    I don’t know why, but I love backstory. I like the history behind a character. It makes me feel better about my own past, maybe. 😉

    Well done addition to the first two pieces. Can’t wait for the next!

  2. sueperfluous says:

    It was good to see the story from a different angle.

  3. Maria Kelly says:

    Wow. Guilt can really tear people up, especially perceived guilt of one’s own making. You showed that here.

  4. Brian, I love this. You’ve managed to deliver yet another taut piece.

    Stuff like this: “ike a bridge made of paper, it was only a matter of time before one end folded, or buckled under the pressure.””

    Love it.

  5. ThomG says:

    great stuff. Packed with emotion. I, too, liked this told from a different angle, giving some history to the first installments.

  6. adampb says:

    The first image of the conversation between strangers as a paper bridge is absolutely superb; makes me wish I’d thought of it.
    And I like the back story too, that sneak into the characters from another angle.
    My other favourite image is that of the starving child under a slow dripping tap.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  7. Marisa Birns says:

    Just continues to be as good as ever! Loved the image of an origami bridge. 🙂

    And what a backstory. Whew.

  8. Wow, the motivation becomes clearer and clearer. Such a sad life that should have been a happy one. This is really a good series.

  9. Vandamir says:

    This isn’t as strong as the first two pieces but still good. I wondered if you were going to tie in her alcoholism with her father’s and you did a nice job doing just that.

  10. Good job on this on section of your story. It’s interesting how it continues to unfold. I look forward to reading what comes next.

  11. That’s quite some backstory there! Billy is… creepy :-\

  12. antisocialbutterflie says:

    Each new piece leaves me wanting another. I very much enjoy traveling this uncomfortable path with Gemma. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  13. PJ Kaiser says:

    This is a terrific story and has so much potential. Guilt can certainly rip a person to shreds. Very well written and riveting.

  14. Rebecca says:

    I am really enjoying this series. The back story holds a lot of interest.

    Keep up the good work!

  15. Gracie says:

    I’m all caught up now. What a painful story. All his guilt over things he really couldn’t control. Love the way you’re telling it.

    And welcome to #tuesdayserial!

  16. Matt Merritt says:

    The man who created the monster. Great POV!

  17. […] A Shoebox III by Brainhaze. (Parts 1 and 2 also available) DEBUT […]

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