Flash Fiction: NO ILLUSIONS

By: Steven Storrie


You are dating someone you met on Twitter and are currently Skyping with. Here are some things that she likes;

“I like…
Boys on swings and girls on skateboards.
I like babies in highchairs.
I like people in hats with big eyebrows and mustaches.
I like water caught in spider’s webs.
I like wearing all my clothes at once.
I like people who don’t smile. Ever.
And I like people who smile
I like hair that goes on and on.
I LOVE food.
I like the things I like but I love everything.
I love things so much I feel like I could float away.”

You are listening to Bon Jovi’s ‘Keep The Faith’ album and recalling your youth. There are grass stains on your t-shirt and rips in the knees of your jeans. You felt everything on a very deep level back then and summer seemed like it would never end. You and your friends were going to live forever. You recall the heat coming off the sidewalk and the haze up ahead that looked like the ocean when you pressed your cheek to the ground. You look at the desert boots and the vinyl record you bought today.

A loud bang comes from the apartment above, another heavy loss or bad hand in a game of cards. It’s raining hard against the windows and you watch the orange lights illuminate the street outside.
Here are some things she does not like.

“I hate shoes.
I hate people who change their voices when they say something important.
I hate my thighs.
I hate war haha.
I hate swimming costumes that cling.
I hate dripping taps and invitations.
I hate radiators.
I hate loneliness.
This.
I hate this.”

She shuts off her webcam. She had looked as though she was going to cry, and you suddenly feel more emotion than you’ve felt in a while. You get those old feelings of anger and love and wanting to protect something vulnerable and precious and pure. You feel the way you felt before you became hardened, battle scarred and built for survival in the world. The way you did when you sang those songs to no-one in the darkness of your teenage room and dreamt of everyone knowing your name.

You can’t stand the silence.

You can’t face the void.

Suddenly she is back on the screen and your heart swells in your chest like a great balloon.
You talk about favourite movies, ‘Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss.’
Here are some things she does not like on the net.

“Using any internet slang or abbreviation, especially if you pronounce it phonetically. Loool.
Explaining how you find most comedians disappointingly boring on Twitter.
A play by play blog about what exactly you were gonna do when you got home that night. This includes announcing what you’ll caption each photo that you’ll upload onto Facebook and suggesting which pictures might be worthy of becoming someone’s profile picture.
Wearing a threadless t-shirt to a party and telling everyone in attendance why it’s ironic.
Telling everyone on public transport how you’ve always wanted to be written about on the Miss Connection section of your city’s Craigslist and musing about finding a future husband that way.
Telling your friends you didn’t sleep well last night cos you were up late reading Wikipedia
pages about serial killers.
Describing what symptoms you entered into Google to determine whether or not you had a yeast infection.
Performing impressions of any meme. You may ‘do’ a highly convincing impression of Keyboard Cat, but people will see you doing it.
Mentioning how many blogs you read that are specifically about cake decoration, the Olsen twins and things that are shaped like ducks.
Reminiscing about the time you saw someone who was mildly popular on Myspace about ten years ago at a bad hard-core show.”

You are watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, the scene where Larry David is in a coffee shop trying to order a drink.

“I'll have a vanilla... one of those vanilla BS things. You know, whatever you want, some vanilla latte cappa thing.”

You laugh and feel something about this scene sums you up and the way you view society. You tell her this. She has a perfect blonde fringe and wears oversized shades. She agrees and says something like
“It’s series 3 or 4, I think? I like it more than Seinfeld.”

She is sat on her bed drinking coffee from a huge mug. On the screen you can see a guitar and a lamp and some fashion magazines. You quickly wonder what is visible over your shoulder. It is a picture of Marlon Brando and of Scarlett Johansson and a torn American flag. You feel okay with this.

You talk a little more. About how you wish you’d had a motorbike when you were younger and she says she wishes she had been on the back of it, out in the open, cruising by the coast at Big Sur and leaving the world behind. Nestling under a blanket together on a cold night by a fire, reading Kerouac and falling in love.

You wonder about sin.
You wonder about absolution.
You wonder what time the bus leaves and what time you can be there.
You wonder about leaving all this behind and starting again.
She pulls on a grey hoodie over her PJ’s and you wish you could watch it forever.
She looks sleepy.
You remember Axl Rose and the summer of 1993.
Her bedroom looks full of secrets.
You both say goodnight and shut off the cameras, agreeing to speak at the same time tomorrow.
You are plunged back into your real world.
A clatter comes from the kitchen and you feel yourself begin to cry.

Bio- Steven Storrie is a writer from England. His books include the poetry collections 'Working With The Negatives' and 'Yours Sincerely, Axl Rose', as well as the novella 'The Northern Sunset' and the short story collection '4pm In Los Angeles'. His new book of short stories, 'The Wreck Collection', is due to be published in the Spring.

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