Paying Attention

Posted: 30 August 2013 in elephantwords, fiction, writing
Tags: , , ,

Here’s another tale I wrote for ElephantWords.

For once, a rarity when it comes to my stories, I remember precisely where this story came from: once seeing a couple walk past me, hand in hand, the woman’s eyes constantly moving, his eyes fixed ahead.


The object they were walking towards proved an interesting backdrop to the monologue she was listening to, she concluded.

It occurred to her, studying the grey, craggy exterior of the mythical creature, that it seemed to parallel the sharp and edgy parts of their relationship; what used to be the exciting bits.

She tuned back into the sound that he’d been making for the past three minutes, idly wondering whether during that time he’d paused for breath. He used to surprise her. When did that stop?

She recognised the tone; he was only in mid-rant, and would continue in that vein for some minutes yet.

They approached the sculpture, and she gazed at it, enjoying the contrast of restrained movement. The Golem held the rock high, as if it was about to rid itself of an irritation in a fit of pique. She looked up at the Golem. It looked annoyed. Definitely annoyed. She felt the same.

She lifted her wrist and examined the face of the watch he’d bought her on the first anniversary of their meeting.

For a moment, she wondered what he’d say if she took it off and just left it. There, at the feet of the Golem. If she just left it there and continued walking, how long would it be before he realised? Would he ever realise? When did he stop noticing her? It hurt more than she wanted to admit.

She realised there was silence; oh, he must have finished. She focussed her eyes on him, wishing so desperately to see what she had seen in him that first night, when she’d been so important to him, his entire reason for staying at the club. She wished he’d pay that much attention to her now.

He paused for breath and then smiled.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ll shut up now.”

She smiled gently… and then the smile slowly faded as he did the oddest thing.

He stopped walking, and she stopped next to him.

“You do know I love you?” he asked. “You know that you matter more to me than anyone else on this whole fucking planet?”

“Yes, of course I do,” she said, failing to bring heartfelt sincerity into the words, but in truth not trying that hard anyway.

“Oh, ok,” he said. “Only I just asked you to marry me.”

© Lee Barnett, 2008

  1. Can I just say; Ouch!

  2. Phlebas says:

    Ouch. Nicely done.

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