Smashing Bottles

'My mother told me to never let go of what you love.'

Entry into TFIOS competition, under the prompt:

'That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.' - whether it's physical or emotional, write a Movella dealing with pain.


1. Smashing Bottles- short fiction



Not for the first time, she wakes up covered in broken glass.


Some would argue this to be impossible: the aspect of gaining any sort of rest when your skin is being pinched by tiny shards of death. But the glass is a common thing to wake up to when you’re Lucy Gray, amongst other much worse things.


These fractions of wine bottle over her chest started off as nothing but the remnants of yet another drug-induced, alcohol-hazed night. Lucy used to wince as she dug out the teeny parts that buried themselves into her skin. Lucy used to cry when she found the one piece that was adamant on its resting place; meaning she had to bite her tongue and find Tony to tweeze it out for her.


And if Tony was too hungover, she’d have to go to the campus Nurse and face the endless questions on her private life. The “Have you got a boyfriend?”s. The “How did this happen?”s. The ‘Do tell me if something’s wrong, dear.”s.


Every time she would come out clutching the very same card holding the very same helpline number. Seems she’s become quite a collector.


Over time, these fragments have become so much more.


She makes them represent every single imperfection. Her twisted mind links every shallow bloodstain to herself. She plots the next placing constantly.


As she sits up, brushing off any unsuccessful shards with her thumb and forefinger she mumbles in continuous prose:


“This one here on my thumb can be Dad looks pretty deep so accurate what about this one here it’s on my collarbone though not very bloody yet it might blister though…”


Lucy rises to her feet and struggles to stop her head from spinning. Her brain hardly registers the smashed champagne glass on her table beside the stone dry champagne bottle and the roses.


Today, she doesn’t even notice the roses.


Lucy has attended Ladelshum University for less than one term and all she has received is hell. Everyday, within every class and lecture all she can do is count down the seconds until she can go back to pretending she doesn’t know these people. Because if the Bible describes hell as ‘conscious torment’, then the people around her are surely demons assisting the devil.


Encased in all these strangers, all she can do is feel lost.


She’s been away from home for longer periods of time than this, so being homesick was hardly a factor to consider when looking up her possible University options. Once, she’d been kicked out for six months by her father for admitting she’d rather date a girl to a guy. Her father branded her a freak and banished her with a reminder of her sin displayed across her cheek.

It was her fault for being gay, anyway.


Her room is just around the corner from Tony’s. He has been the only thing within this place she has found any sort of peace with; even that’s temperamental. He was the first to make an effort to speak to her and they became convenient friends. Obviously not real friends. Just the sort to fall back on when the bullies come too close.


He’s not much. But he’s reliable.


And things always seem so much worse after their arguments (which occur frequently). Lucy doesn’t aim to disagree with him as much as she does. Lucy would never dream of making someone angry! All she wants is to graduate then move far, far away.


When they argue, she can’t seem to concentrate on anything but recalling the sight of his brow all furrowed up, the tiny beads of sweat falling down his forehead, the way he tenses his hands and his brash words. All she feels is guilt after he storms off, slamming the mahogany door on its rusty hinges.


You see, the thing about Tony is he’s a wholehearted guy. He seems to attract those with problems and he tries adamantly to help them: consequently becoming the textbook ‘good guy’ and being automatically friend-zoned by almost every female he knows.


Tony appreciates the little things in life. The way an autumn leaf can fall and hit the ground with minimal fuss, the colour of one’s eyes and freshly blossomed red roses. From the moment she met him, Lucy knew he would be a hopeless romantic. It’s not until their most recent fight that she understood how true that is.


Yesterday afternoon, at approximately 3:27pm, Tony told Lucy that he was irrevocably in love with her.


It was a little awkward when she had to explain the complications in any sort of relationship with him, considering her sexuality.


He left shortly after.


But he never stayed angry for long. She’d always wake up the next day to find half a dozen red roses and a brief note saying sorry.


Lucy makes her way into the bathroom and strips off her clothing in front of the full length mirror. Letting her hair down from the tight ponytail it normally lays in, she blinks twice as her eyes search her body for any sign of beauty.


What does she see when she looks in the mirror? All her countless insecurities.


She sees her limp, greasy hair first. She despises its thinness and its refusal to be brushed into straight, acceptable strands. She looks into her dull grey eyes and feels nothing. She sees the outline of her perfectly round face and plump cheeks and is disappointed.

And she almost lets the tears fall when she allows her eyes to drop to her body, as all she can see is fat. Everywhere. Her thighs are too big. Her stomach won’t go flat. Her breasts are a let down.


Nobody would ever want me, she thinks.


But the mirror reflects back a different image. The true one.


It shows an 18 year old girl, standing above the ground by 5 feet and 10 inches. The girl in the mirror has an oval shaped face with big silver eyes that invite nothing but interest. Soft auburn curls fall to her shoulder blades and frame her face tastefully. This girl is not fat, she is just unsure.


Lucy sighs, showers and shampoos.


As she comes out of the bathroom, hair damp and body clean, she spots the roses laid out for her as always – with a small white square of card taped around the stems to hold them all together.


She can just make out the words as she steps closer though her muddled brain demands five blinks before perfect clarity.


My mother told me to never let go of what you love.


Her jaw drops.

Lucy was of so little words, but this was utter silence.


He was hurting – an undeniable ache within his very soul.


Tony hopes the roses have worked this time. He sits just down the hall, forever wanting to be the one to brush the glass off of her at dawn.


To prevent her from smashing the bottle at dusk.


He wants to be the one to take her in when she gets kicked out, to comfort her when her father mistreats her. But he can’t.

He always wants what he can’t have.


And the only thing standing in his way is the fact that he doesn’t own a pair of breasts.


He sees what the mirror reflects. Even if she doesn’t.


He allows himself to feel sad that he’s lost her before he even had her.


Because that’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.

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