Categories
Fiction Psychological Writing Writing Contest

2nd Place 2020 ‘Slight Short Story’ Contest Winner

Read the story that won the second place prize in the 2020 Writerwerx ‘Slight Short Story’ contest!

“The Nobodies” by Nicole March of St. Augustine, Florida


I just wanted to be noticed. Just….noticed. I don’t need congratulations, a pat on the back or anything grandiose. Just acknowledged that I’m here, that I exist, and that I’ve done something.

That was all I wanted. I wanted to be good, do the right thing, and make all the right moves. But nothing I’ve done works. I wanted a life that meant something to me, but it doesn’t. It just exists. I am a boat floating away on a river that just continues to turn. It just continues to go nowhere. I try to make any and all the connections, get out of my shell to try and meet people and network, but no one wants to know me past 10 min in. Why? All my family are gone now, and I can’t seem to make friends or even get a date. What’s so bad about me? I’m trying and no one will meet me halfway.

Everyday I’m at this job I feel my life draining away. Nothing I’ve done gets me out of this hellhole and I can’t afford to quit. I don’t want to lose my home, I don’t have a friends couch to crash on. I’ve looked every which way I can and again nothing… No responses. The small amount of interviews I got…nothing. I thought I had done well and yet here I am back in….nothing. I just exist.

I can’t escape….

He was there on a Tuesday, the “New Boss”. Embarrassingly young, full of no life experience and the thought process he was better than everyone else. He could do things “better”. The job should have been mine and everyone around me knew it. He knew it too, my stats were better than everyone else’s, and I am a woman to boot, yet try as I might no one acknowledged me. What….am…I…doing….wrong.

I stare at this computer and drift away in thought. Every day here I feel my heart race and my brain feels like it’s on fire. Something is constantly knocking on a door in the back of my mind but I can’t find the key. Sometimes the knocking is deafening. This place continues to kill me, and I can’t escape its grasp. I feel like I am suffocating slowly, as if the air in my lungs doesn’t care for my existence as well.

Again I became the good girl, did everything I could to make our team work together. My team liked me, they thought I deserved better, but unfortunately they cant help me at all. All I got was “I’m Sorry”, “It shouldn’t be like this”, “You deserve better”

I deserve….what? I’m not even sure now. Hope is fading. After the afternoon meeting, “He” asked me to stay behind.

“Let’s have a chat” he said. I saw him clench and unclench his jaw and I felt my heart race again. The knocking also started anew.

“We need to talk about how things have been around here” he said.

“You don’t seem to be interested in all the changes going on here, the positive direction the company wants for all of us”

I knew he was talking but it was getting harder to hear him.

“We really need team players, and while you are very good at your job you seem to march to the beat of your own drum” he said.

“What….how am I” I could only respond in stifled sounds, I could hear my own voice sound strangled.

“Consider this the first of our conversations as we try to get you to join us on the same…”

I didn’t feel the heavy metal in my hand until after it happened. I swung the hole puncher out and forward in an arc. It hit him in the cheek bone with a crunch that threw his body backwards.

His eyes widened and a WUH sound was all he could make.

I saw the wound grow across his cheekbone, the youthful skin swelling, the darkening of his eye. The eyes were opening and shutting in shock as he tried to raise his hands in defense.

A strange feeling emerged inside me. Rage.

I gripped it again and swung downward aiming for the bridge of the nose. 12 yrs of martial arts made me a stronger than average woman, but not that strong. I felt a stab of pain in my shoulder, as I watched the blood spurt out of his face arching and hitting my clothes. His nose was twisted to one side swelling and spilling blood. His right eye was swollen shut now.

Another swing, I aimed for his mouth with no particular reason at all. All he could do was sputter sounds. His body sagged, ready to fall off the office chair. I thought I saw fragments of teeth fall to the floor.

He collapsed on the ground and I stepped back surveying the scene. He was struggling to breath, the blood was getting in the way. I squatted closer, and his left eye the only one open, showed nothing but fear. I was taking his youth away and I was happy. The hole puncher was getting slippery and I brushed it off in my shirt. A raise of an arm, and again I brought it down on his temple, again on the remnants of the nose, and then once more. He wasn’t moving now. The floor became a sea of blood. He never even made that much of a sound the entire time.

Shockingly no one was running in, no screams of horror. It was quiet.

I stood and stepped back. I grabbed my purse and shut off the light. I peeked out the door and saw no one. So, I locked up like I did everyday. I got in my car and just drove with the windows down, I wasn’t going to go home now. Then it came suddenly the sound of silence. And I was happy once more.

Categories
Fiction Psychological Writing Contest

1st Place 2020 ‘Slight Short Story’ Contest Winner

Read the story that won our 2020 Slight Short Story Contest!

Paris 

By Ishan Davis of Charlotte, North Carolina

A crash from below brings him to consciousness. 

His bedroom, now washed with light from the open window, feels like a safe haven from the confines of his dreams. He wouldn’t call them nightmares, as that was too strong of a word. Not quite scary, but unsettling. They were bursts of strange thoughts—deformed memories, eerie voyages to places he had never been—all pushed out from some dark corner of his sleeping imagination. 

He was thankful for the loud strangers below, the life raft that pulled him to the surface of reality every morning. Their voices are unusually loud today, most likely the neighbors that had moved in a couple weeks ago. Exchange students, he guessed. He could never decipher what made its way up through the window, but he knows it must be English. Of course it is. 

It seems like that is all you ever hear now. 

He unwraps himself from the covers, feet meeting the floor as he sits on the edge of the bed. His glazed eyes find the nightstand. A scribbled note is left there, ripped from one of his lingering journals, he imagines. 

‘Meeting friends. 

Be back tonight, Munchkin.’ 

He scoffs. Of course she would settle on the worst nickname, he thinks. A part of him wonders if they were too old for this, nicknames and notes. But she isn’t asking for much. He could let her have this. 

The floor isn’t as cool as it usually is. It’s warm for October. The stale air in the apartment nears unbearable. He looks at the window, frowning. The latch is shut. He is so sure that it was open when he awoke just moments ago. He walks over, stretching his limbs as he takes in the scene below. It was the same morning shuffle as always: Unbothered old women walk through tour groups on tight sidewalks. A fit of snapping cameras. The clanking of silverware at a café across the way. The exchange students that were just happy to be there. 

He unlatches the window and in a couple of steps, he’s in the kitchen. A cup of coffee sits on the counter. Smoke wafts up to the ceiling, reeking of a fresh roast. It’s a pale brown color, café au lait, his favorite. The oven beeps, and the sudden smell of chicken meets his nose. The oven timer is at zero. Lunch is ready. 

He blinks several times, but the coffee remains, and the beeping never ceases. 

Nearly tripping over himself, he backpedals into the bedroom where his phone rests on the nightstand. The note is nowhere to be found. His attention snaps to the bed. It has been neatly made, sheets unwrinkled and pillows flat. 

His chest constricts, holding in every panicked breath that threatens to escape. His hands shake violently as he dials the first number that comes to mind. 

“Yes?” she answers. 

“I feel like I’m losing it.” He rubs his face, desperate for touch as she was not there to do it herself.

“What do you mean?” she asks.  

“Ever since we went to the Seine last week. Do you remember? For our anniversary picnic? I’ve been having these dreams. And time…time doesn’t make sense. I can’t explain it…I just—”

“Seine?” We never went to the Seine.” She snorts, amused. 

A beat of silence. 

“What?” 

“Munchkin, you can’t stand the Seine.” 

“Well yes,” he breathes, “I do. I hate it. But we still went because you wanted to.” 

“You really believe you would do that for me?” 

“It was our anniversary—” 

“So, you think you’ve found love in this city? Cliché, even for you.” 

“I love you! You know that. What are you on about?” 

“You could love no one but yourself. You know that.” 

The voice is jarring—deep, slicing—and not hers. He searches his memory before realizing it is his own. 

His heart plunges to his stomach when he pulls back the phone and finds his hand empty. The phone is still across the room, on the nightstand next to his bed. The room seems to tilt, bending into itself as the walls close in. The air is stale again, stifling. He slowly spares another look out the window and is greeted by the darkness of night.