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Life... and Death

Life... and Death

Brief narrative about an opportunity lost, a love unspoken, and the consequences of staying silent.

6

Flash fiction


author-small

Erika Torres (United States)


Chapter 1: Dying by Inches

All I’ve done, the things I’ve said, the laws (both of man and nature) I’ve bent, broken or simply ignored, has all been for you; to make you laugh or smile. All I’ve ever truly wanted was for you to be happy—even if it could never be with me.

I’m not your usual type. I know that and I’ve come to accept it but, it still hurts me to see, or hear about, you with someone else. I know I should be happy for you. I should wish you all the best and smile. But I can’t.

On your wedding day, I was expected, as your friend, to sit in a white chair in that beautiful garden and smile as you said your vows and gave yourself to someone who wasn’t me. It took everything I had to sit there and watch as he took you away from me and he never even knew he was doing it. And when the preacher asked for any objections, only your sister’s hand on my arm and her sympathetic smile stopped me from saying anything. She knew then, as she knows now, about my feelings for you. She knew it had to be killing me to have to sit there and watch the woman I was falling deeper in love with marry someone else.

That was why she was sitting next to me and not standing near you as a bridesmaid. You had asked her to be a bridesmaid, maybe even maid of honor (she won’t tell me), but she knew I’d need her more and she said no. I’m sorry for that, I know that it must’ve hurt you. But then, having me speak up and confess my undying, all-consuming love for you at your wedding would’ve hurt you more I think.

It’s funny, considering how close you two are, that she never had a problem with my feelings for you, never turned away from me or warned me to stay away or watch my step as I’d thought (feared) she might if I ever told her. I think a big part of her acceptance had to do with my assurance that I’d never actually act on those feelings. I’ve never told you how I feel. I couldn’t risk my heart like that, knowing you could never love me like I love you. I didn’t think you would laugh at me but, I did know you wouldn’t have confessed to loving me too. Not like that and not in real life. Maybe in my dreams but in reality? No.

So I suffer in silence. Comparing every woman I meet to you and finding them all lacking…unworthy. Watching you with your new husband, happy and in love at the parties we attend with our mutual friends around.

We still talk, still joke around together but there’s a difference in our interactions. Married life has altered how you act with me. There’s a wall between us now.

I’ve noticed that, lately, your smile is different. Your lips pull back and take the shape of a smile but there’s no joy in it. The smile never reaches your eyes. I used to love your smiles, used to live for them but now, they remind me that nothing will ever be the way it used to be between us.

I know I’ve lost you. And that’s painful enough but, if what your sister said is true…the pain of that will rival the pain of losing you.

One night, she and I were out at a bar, just relaxing as I ‘whined’ just a little about my feelings for you. She ended up having more than was wise for keeping secrets and she began to tell me something that, if true, would be worse than never knowing. She told me that if I had said something before the wedding, before you had committed yourself to him I could’ve had you, that you had feelings for me but were too scared or confused to act on them, not wanting to risk our friendship. I was too scared in my own right, too convinced that you’d never love me that I never said anything.

And knowing how close I was to having the only woman I’ve ever loved enough to let go, knowing I let my fear rob me, rob us, of happiness and love is like…well like dying by inches.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
This was an idea that really sparked my empathy and had a clear theme. I enjoyed reading it and feeling the emotions and build of the story, even if the emotions were of a more melancholy variety. There were a few grammar mistakes and confusing story elements, but overall it was professional and emotional! Great work!

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
The story drew me in and evoked bittersweet emotion as I am sure was intended. My only suggestion is to take a closer look at your commas and make sure the pauses are in the place you want them to give the right impact. Nice!

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 3:
What a passionate first chapter! I like your naturalistic atmosphere with hope and sadness. I think the main line of your whole work is the main question for everybody - Can love survive a lifetime? Someone has no hope that it can. Someone has a big hope and I think this is the reason why you titled your work Life... and Death. Your psychological searching about bright and dark side of a human nature was very well written. Good luck.