But yet, if someone asks me to talk about what I write about, I get awkward.
It usually goes like this;
Person: So what do you write about?
Me: Uh . . . Stuff.
See? Then they give me a polite smile and nod and we move on.
I suck at explaining my writing.
Which lets face it, probably isn't the best marketing strategy. The truth is, I like to write a variety and I enjoy variety. I write depending on inspiration and mood at the time I guess. I tend to go a little darker with my short stories.
One of the things I really like about short stories is the ability to be elusive without fear of annoying your readers.
When you read a novel, you invest time and effort and connect to the characters. In a short story, you don't have time to do that. You don't know enough about backstory or enough details, but that's ok, because in a short story you don't need to.
Twists in novels can be wonderful, but if you twist and end, you risk angering readers. So I think in that sense you have more power in a short story to do those sorts of things. I love writing both short stories and novels.
Next year, I am doing a project with my sister (who also writes) with some of our short stories and I'm really looking forward to it. The one below, is going to be included. I originally started this story around four years ago for a university assignment and repurposed it earlier this year for a site where I sometimes submit my work.
The Body in the Bath
Her eyes peer out over the top of the bath water. Because of the reflection, it appears she has two sets of eyes. I notice her mascara is untouched, no smudges. It seems as if her eyes haven’t come into contact with the water, just the rest of her. Her clothes are torn, the ruined material swirling in the water. She appears to be sleeping, if her chest was moving I’d think she was. I feel a chill settles into my bones. I am frozen; I can’t tear my eyes away from this woman. It is obvious she met with foul play, but why and more curiously, why here?
I can feel panic beginning to set in and override the numb feeling that has paralysed me from the moment I stepped foot into my bathroom. I don’t even recognize this woman; much less know how she came to be in here. It feels so surreal—I pinch my cheek hard. It stings, the skin underneath my fingers growing warm instantly.
My feet are in quick sand, rather than the cold and sinister bathroom tiles. It feels like an eternity passes before I walk out to the hall to call Corey. He is always so laid back that he is a relief to be around in a crisis. He’ll know what to do and he won’t arrest me for being a victim of circumstance.
I hang up the phone after leaving him a tense, cryptic voicemail. I walk slowly back into the bathroom. I have some sort of morbid need to stare at her.
I can’t even rationalise but I feel like she shouldn’t be alone.
She deserves someone to stay with her.
I feel responsible for this stranger in my bathtub.
I wait for Corey; we have always been close, he has always been there for me, and I hope he will be this time as well.
I sink down slowly onto the icy bathroom floor and sit with my back against the wall, next to the door. I stare at the woman and try to guess her age. I suppose she looks around my age, slightly older, no more than mid-twenties. It’s hard to tell when half her face is submerged.
What happened to her?
I study every inch of her face that I can see, every line, every spot, hoping somehow the answer will lie there, will jump out at me.
She had been pretty and I feel an overwhelming sadness come over me, threatening to take over. Corey’s heavy footsteps shake me out of my trance and I look expectantly up at the door.
“What’s going on here Carina?!” he shouts out hoarsely. His eyes take in the dead girl and he stalks to the edge of the bath; his back to me.
He swears and jumps back as if fire is in pursuit of him. His leg hits my foot, but he doesn’t react. His intense gaze is locked on the girl, his shoulders shake, his body jerks, sobs tear from his chest, escaping from his mouth with a volume that hurts my ears, hurts my soul. I can’t remember seeing Corey cry since the day his beloved dog had died when we were teenagers. I remember the day Benny was hit by a car; Corey doubled over his body, rocking back and forth in his grief. His soul leeching out through his pores. Benny’s fur darkened by his blood.
This is like that.
“Corey, get it together for fuck sake. We have to move the body!” I shout a little louder than I intend, but truth be told this display of emotion is scratching at my nerves.
I start to feel that something is horribly wrong.
I want his attention.
This experience has shaken me to the core and I am depending on Corey to be the strong one pulling me through this, not falling apart like he is.
He is leaving me stranded with my raw feelings.
As he drops to the floor and brings his knees to his chest, moisture leaking from his eyes and mouth, I step forward to look closer at the face I have spent the past hour studying, perhaps I did miss something.
My feet shuffle forward across the tiles that have swirls of watery brown and sand from Corey’s shoes. A growing horror settles in the pit of my stomach like a brick found its way in there somewhere, it makes it hard to push on but I keep moving forward on my shaky feet.
My shins hit the edge of the cold, bitter tub. Water splashes out against my stockings. The dead body in the bath is familiar. It’s me.
© Lo-arna Green