The Short Story

Entry by: Alobear

21st May 2015
The Short Story

"Write it down. Short and to the point. Get your message across. Nobody wants to spend the effort to read through an interminable screed. Grab their attention and then don't let them go until they understand. Be brutal about it. It's the only way. But write it down now. Before you forget."

A pad of paper and a pen were shoved across the table towards her. She reached out automatically and gripped them, as if the feel of the physical objects could anchor her to reality. The paper was rough under her fingers, recycled she thought distractedly. The pen was a cheap biro, its case cracked and very little ink showing in the cartridge. But he was right. What she wrote didn’t need to be long, so the ink would probably last.

She focused hard on the blank page in front of her, placed the tip of the pen upon it, and started to write.

She wrote of a man in the darkness, of pain felt through horror, of blood on the kitchen tiles. She put her emotion aside and tried to be clinical about it, while still conveying the violence and lasting impact of what had happened. She concluded with his name. The letters of it were black and heavy on the white paper. She had been unable to divorce her feelings from that name and it was scored deeply into the page. She hoped it would not count against her, that it would look firm and definite rather than desperate.

She pushed the pad back across the table, her eyes on the grain of the wood, then folded her arms about herself, suddenly cold.

There was silence for a few moments, then he spoke again.

“Good. That’s good. It’s all there, but it’s not clouded by unnecessary emotion. It’s a good story.”

“It’s not a story,” she whispered, still not looking up. “It’s the truth.”

“Well, that’s not for me to decide. But I want you to know I do hope they believe it. There needs to be a reckoning. It’s been a long time coming and I think you might be the one to finally get it done. I’ll take this and get things started.”

A scrape of metal chair legs against concrete floor, and he was gone. She wondered how long he would be, and what would happen next. Would she have to stay here until it was all over? It wasn’t as if she had anywhere to go, but she didn’t like the feeling of helplessness that came with just being left alone.

She thought about what he had said. He didn’t seem to think it mattered what was real, only what would be believed. It mattered to her, though. Obviously, she wanted them to believe her, to act on her behalf and on behalf of all the nameless others, but she wouldn’t have lied about it, even to get the desired result. No matter how much retribution might have been deserved, it would have been wrong to fabricate. Besides, she didn’t think she could have written what she had written if it hadn’t been real. Her imagination either would have provided too little or too much to make it convincing. She hoped that meant they would be more likely to believe her.

“It’s not a story,” she said again, to the empty air. “It’s the truth.”