Microfiction — The Bachelor.

It’s a bright morning outside. I’ve slept through most of it. Head hurts from light seeping in through curtains, though more likely from the night I’ve all but forgotten. Where did I go? The other side of the bed is empty. It smells of someone else. The house is silent. My phone woke me. Did I give her my number? Its blue light hurts more than the sun’s, an unknown texter. I swipe left to delete before reading five words a person with No ID should know. An accusation. Another text follows. A time. A place. No time to get to that place.

I hit the floor, legs tangling in pants with no exit for feet. Headache evaporating, heart playing percussion inside my chest. Pulling a shirt on over the top of my head, smelling the pits of my arm — I stink. Keys are jangling; running for the back door. Wooden rubber-stripped panels are disappearing underfoot. I’m unhooking the boat, turning the key. Bluewater becoming white, frothing on either side of the engine, pulling into the channel.

Angry faces are staring at me from backyards, ignoring their newspapers, eggs uneaten. I’m violating the ‘no-wake’ rule. I keep going, checking my watch, rubbing my eyes, no sunglasses. The press could print their stories on my tongue; there’s no water on board, just a half-drunken beer. It’s warm.

A woman is standing on a bridge up ahead, blonde hair blowing like a flag. I wish we could trade places, her serenity for my panic. She must be thinking the same thing — she jumps. Not quite. She falls. Face first from 40 feet. I’m closing the gap between us, the bow of the boat rising, responding to extra throttle, thoughts of me going past her, slipping by, focusing on the issue my texter presents.

I can’t. I might be many things, cold-blooded isn’t one of them. The woman is floating face down. I stop short, the boats’ wash nudging us forward. The water’s cold. I’m unhooking the ladder, dragging her up the side of it, rolling her over. I feel sick; we have history. CPR, chest rising, falling, she’s breathing, purging, smiling, eyes opening, her arm circling my neck, pulling me in, her unseen knife finding my chest. She’s texting. Her phone is a new one. Waterproof. Percussion stops.

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Scott Butler

I’m a writer of blogs, original short stories, and novels. Here is a clutch of short stories written on Fridays. Visit me for more at scottbutler.co.nz