The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.

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18. Jelly Beans.

I'd been meaning to sit down and work on it for ages, but nothing was coming. Nothing felt right. It's hard, like trying to pull freshly shorn wool through a needle eye - any other day, after a little processing, this thing would be easy. But right now, nothing. The page was blank, and it was in danger of staying that way.

I'd tried a million times before to write her a love letter, ever in my desperate attempt to remain original. It sucks, romance. All that fucken pressure. What do you want from me? Roses? A boat trip on the River Seine? Maybe even just a half-bag of jelly beans, bought especially for you, with all the pink ones gone because I know how much you hate them. You know how many times I wracked my brains with that? A lot. That's how many.

But of course, we all walk around with a feeling of inert failure. We're not eating as well as we could. Not taking as much exercise as our doctors tell us too. Never replying to all those emails we know we're meant too - guilt follows us everywhere. It's just amplified when you're in a relationship.

'You have to get some milk.' She was reading a letter. It reminded me of what I hadn't yet done. 'Oh, and some cheese.'
'Sure.'
Silence.

And so I sat, staring, anxiously trying to conjour up all the words I wanted to say, in the most eloquent way, yet coming up with nothing.

'Have you left yet?' she called up the stairs.
'In a minute,' I shouted down from the bathroom.

Why am I doing this to myself, I thought. What's the fucken point? She doesn't need a letter to let her know how much you love her, you tell her everyday after all. But that's not the point. The point is romance is a great wave that washes broken stones from the shore. In one simple gesture, you can sweep through her emotions, removing all the bullshit details, replacing it with the truisms of love, desire and respect. And she'd been having a shitty couple of weeks - I wanted to pick her up, reinforce how important she was in my world.

I traced out a word. 'Darling,' I wrote. Then I paused.

'If you don't hurry up, they're going to be closed.'
'Okay,' I replied.

I stuffed the pen in my pocket, followed by the folded paper. Romance, I thought, was going to have to wait a while.

As I walked the aisles, row after row of products shining out at me like neon lights crafted from cardboard, I thought about why there was so much anxiety to relight that romantic edge. It irked and it bugged, because I really didn't know why. The wheels on the trolley rolled, and I watched the couples walk by me, some caught in conversation about whether it was pasta or potatoes tonight. Others pissed at each other about something unknowable, and them some just distantly lost. Not here, not there, just somewhere in between. It made me think about us. About why I couldn't write in flowery prose, professing love in the greeting-card way. It's because it wasn't legitimate for us, wasn't the way we really talked in the real world. We weren't Romeo and Juliet, we were us. We were ourselves, whatever that was meant to be.

I put the bags on the floor, but she had her head in the paperwork. A stack of letters, it seems, she probably wouldn't have noticed one more from me.
'Did you get the cheese?'
'Yeah.'
'What type?'
'The one you like.'
She looked at me.
'What is it?'
I smiled. 'What is what?'
'That look.'
'What look?'
'That stupid look on your face. It means something.'
'What are you talking about?'
'What do you have to tell me?'
'Nothing.' It was making me nervous. Making me feel mildly guilty, even though I knew I had nothing to be guilty about.
'Yes you do. Just tell me.'
'You're making me paranoid...'
She put the pen down, it meant I had her attention. 'Okay.'
'Okay.'
Our own mini-Mexican standoff.
'Okay.' Beat. She looked back at her stack of things and picked up her pen.
'Okay,' I hopped in again, 'I wanted to write you a love letter.'
'Why?'
'Because.'
'Because why?'
'Just because. Because I love you because.'
'I know that.'
'Do you?'
'Of course I do.'
'But do you really?'
'Everyday.'
'But how? How do you know that? I mean, when you go beyond the everyday dull-shit we have to deal with, how do you know?'
She didn't know what to say.
'Here,' I said, as I pulled the folded paper from my pocket and handed it to her. 'This is as far as I got.'
'Darling...' she read. 'That's it?'
'And this.' I handed her a bag of jelly beans, minus the pink ones.
She smiled. And we knew all we needed to know.
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