HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO
by T.E. Hodden
Release Date: September 17, 2018
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Keywords: Romance, sweet, clean, psychological, surreal, Novella Niblets
Any last thoughts?
A few seconds ago I was pushed down some stairs.
A heartbeat ago my head struck cold stone.
Somewhere out there, I am fighting for my life.
But I'm stuck in here, the echo chamber of my thoughts, fighting to hold on, fighting my way back through my memories, my friendships, and my mistakes.
Because, somewhere out there is a woman I should have said three words to, and I have no intention of letting go until she hears the truth.
Dying is easy. Are you ready to live?
I walked her home. We bought take away coffees, and walked slowly, sipping our drinks, talking about... I don't know what, because all I could hear in my head was the endless loop of, Oh God, Oh God, what do I do when she works out I'm an idiot?
We had been walking for fifteen minutes before she stared at her coffee and then at me, her expression sagging.
“Oh bugger a nun!Er...” She cleared her throat. “I just remembered I'm lactose intolerant.”
“You forgot?” I tried to hide my panic under a smile. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” She threw the coffee in the trash. “I'm going to have deadly wind and a crawling stomach, but I'm probably not going to throw up.”
“Probably?” I asked.
“I'm nervous too,” she complained, breaking into a laugh. “Sorry.”
“Are you okay?” I blathered, in a bit of a panic. I grabbed her hand tight, as though I might suddenly be able to sense her illness through a healing touch. She did not seem to mind. “Did I buy the wrong coffee? I didn't mean to poison you.”
“No. I wasn't thinking and I just forgot.”
Her smile turned coy and knowing, in a way people didn't smile at me. She put a hand on my cheek and guided me to kiss her lips. It was my first, so it was awkward and clumsy, but...apparently not awkward or clumsy enough to scare her off.
I saw her every night that week. Our first real date was to the seaside, so she could play the arcade games. Her driving lesson had not gone well, and she took out her frustrations on the digital enemies with button mashing and swearing.
“Bloody Hell!” I chuckled.
“Die! You cold sore riddled, festering foreskin!”
“What did they do to you?”
“They are invaders from another world, they deserve to feel my wrath!” She snarled. “Well, mostly because that stupid git who almost hit me on the roundabout can't! And my Dad!” Her knuckles went white as she punched the fire button. “If I could zap Dad I would, that feckless little runt! But, I can't, so these little alien buggers will pay! Argh! You bloody peggers!”
The screen flashed red. Game Over.
Purged of her anger, she curled into my arms, her cheek red hot against mine.
We sat on the beach, watched the waves crash in, and listened to music on shared headphones.
She considered the finger with which I stroked her wrists. “You know you are shaking?”
“Yeah.” She placed my hands on her side. “Do I make you that nervous?”
I didn't answer.
“Let me guess...I'm so much more beautiful than all the other girls?”
“You are beautiful,” I agreed, “and there are no other girls.”
“I know.” She shrank back. “Why would you want anybody else?”
“I meant...” I could feel my words turning to a confession. “There haven't been any others.”
“Oh.” She shifted so we lay back, and she could rest her head on my chest. “Really?”
“You couldn't tell?”
“And?” She asked.
“And... I'm afraid to let this happen, when...” I closed my eyes. “You know that in a few weeks I'm not going to be around much?”
“Oh.” She smiled. “So, you are playing for keeps?”
That she had to ask, unsettled me. I drew back and mumbled an apology. She put her fingers over my lips.
“Are those the only reasons you are so scared?” she whispered.
“Well, that and any moment now you are going to realise I'm a dork, and—”
She giggled and put my hand on her cheek. “It's the good kind of scared right?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
T. E. Hodden trained in engineering, and works in the rail industry. He writes as a hobby, when he is not walking the Kent coast, looking for forgotten nooks and crannies of history and folklore.