Future Regrets. Short Story.

Sorry, again, that this is up slightly later than usual! I would like to say there is a valid reason, but really it’s because I’m not feeling great and had a How I Met Your Mother marathon.

Exams are almost over though, just three more and I’m done. Can’t wait for next monday and that’s it, no college till mid january, almost an entire month! Then it will be the final semester. Yes, that is unnerving. I shouldn’t be trusted with a map, but their going to trust me with a degree? If I ever become a teacher those children are going to think I’m awesome. “Ugh. I don’t want to teach today, you all probably don’t want to learn, so… movies?” “I’m tired, so today, we’re having nap time, someone closed the blinds and everyone else close your eyes and put your heads down.”*

*Yes, I did have a teacher do this once, but replace tired with hung over.

On with the show!

———————————————————————————————

Future Regrets.

She walked slightly faster, trying to keep warm, the wind was cold and blowing fiercely, robbing Jane of her warmth. She didn’t have much further to go, but at the moment it seemed miles away. Her hands were buried deep in her pockets, but still the cold found them. She paused at the traffic lights, waiting until she could go, trying not to shiver. As the light turned green she half jogged across the road, trying not to slip on the icy ground.

The door to her apartment building was protected with a code and, reluctantly, she removed her hand from her pocket, trying to press the buttons as quickly as possible, the door opened and she stepped inside gratefully. The door closed behind her automatically as she walked to the lifts, their chrome doors sparkling in the lobby lights. The area was slightly chilly but far warmer than outside, as the doors opened she stepped in, removing her jacket. Jane waited in the lift, shifting slightly from one foot to the other, she was wearing high heels and, though they were sensible, her feet were sore. She wasn’t that surprised really, she was getting on in years after all and she had been on her feet all day, running around the office like a loon trying to get everything done.

She slipped her key into the lock and after a few seconds, stepped inside. Throwing her coat onto the coat rack, she slipped off her shoes, sighing happily. She shrugged off her suit jacket and went to her bed room, she would need to hang what needed to be hung up and put things into the laundry basket. She changed into comfortable clothes and let her hair down, undoing it from its clips. Her hair was a dark grey with streaks of lighter colour running through it, she sometimes wondered if she should dye it, but she didn‘t feel the need to hide the grey. She went to the bathroom and wiped off her make up, she didn’t wear too much now that she was older, she feared looking like those women who plastered their faces with as much make up as possible. She saw them daily and it was never pleasant, thick foundation topped with large, red circles, their eyelashes becoming thick clumps as they stuck together, their lips smeared with a layer of lipstick. She knew she was getting wrinkled, but she preferred the wrinkles to looking like that. With her face clean she went to the kitchen, she was slightly peckish, but not quite hungry and decided she would get a head start on dinner. She planned on making spaghetti bolognese, it wouldn’t take long but once cooked she wouldn’t need to do anything else during the evening, only reheat the food.

Jane lived alone, she had never married, never really dated either, not since her fiancé left her anyway. She didn’t have any pets, dogs were too needy and she wouldn’t be around enough to give one the attention it needed and cats were too independent, never really caring for you until they needed something. She lived alone but she wasn’t lonely. She had friends and saw them every Saturday. She had the people she worked with too, though they weren’t friends she liked some of them. They didn’t really associate with her and she understood why, they thought she was old and slightly mean, really she just wanted to make sure deadlines were met. She didn’t like what they thought of her but there was no real way to change that now. She accepted it.

When she was a child, Jane never imagined herself turning into what she was, she had plenty of dreams but they withered and died, there was never time in which to do it and now there wasn’t enough time left. She wasn’t blind, she could see she was getting on in years and she was well aware that she could get sick or have a bad fall, it came with the territory. Sometimes she wished things had worked out differently, but really, how could it have changed? if she had been married she would have become a bitter old woman, knowing her husband was out with other women but not saying anything. She would have ended up like her own mother, who advised her to go through with the marriage regardless of Thomas’ cheating ways. Jane was glad she found out before making such a horrible mistake but really, that was it for her. The love of her life destroyed any chance of another, how could she trust any man when a man had completely broken her trust. She knew it was silly, that not every man was like that or could be like that but still, there was always a chance it would happen again and she didn’t think she would be able to bear it.

The smell of food was filling her small apartment, she took a small bit for now and after eating she carefully portioned the left over’s. It would do for dinner tomorrow and she could freeze some of the cooked sauce for later. Happy with the work she had done, she went to the sitting room, she had her soaps to catch up on. She knew that they were ridiculous but they were interesting. None of her other friends watched them, but they had husbands, children and grandchildren’s lives to distract them. Sometimes she heard the other girls in the office chatting about them but she was too afraid to join in. They didn’t think she’d watch that kind of stuff and, though she knew it was her fault as well, she still resented them for it. They never tried to ask her questions or get close or even invite her to things. It happened frequently, they’d be going somewhere after work and despite her being well within ear shot, they ignored her, never extending the invitation. She liked to think that, should she ever be invited she would go, but she knew that wasn’t quite true. It was too late now, at least for her, to feel comfortable around them. It’s not like she could let her hair down, they would just think she was a weird old woman who couldn‘t let her youth go.

She lost herself for a few hours to the dramatic lives on screen, watching deaths and births and attempted murders and affairs. She managed to keep up with most of them and, when they were over, she looked around for something she watched when she could. There was so much to watch and, though she didn’t like to say it, sometimes it felt nice, like she was a part of things happening on the screen.

When her shows were over and the television sat in darkness she decided it was time to go to bed. She began her routine, carefully applying creams that were designed to help her look younger, she didn’t think they worked but they kept her skin soft and she liked pampering herself a small bit. The creams were expensive but she could afford to be extravagant, she bought so little of anything else. She rarely had to buy presents for others and it was just her living in the apartment. She changed into her pyjamas and got into bed. The electric blanket had heated it up nicely. Jane propped herself up with a few pillows and picked up her book, she was about half way through it now. She had always loved books, you could immerse yourself in their worlds so easily.

When she was done she turned off the light and settled back, getting ready to drift off. She would get up in the morning and go to work, afterwards she’d cook dinner and watch her shows. That’s all she really did. She’d meet up with the girls on Saturday. She was looking forward to it of course, but afterwards, she always felt a little sad. She was reminded of how lonely the rest of her week truly was. She spent Sunday watching old movies or rewatching soaps. When Monday came she’d be in work again and busy for the day, it helped her forget, truly forget, just how empty her life had become. But she had her work and her books and soaps and that was enough. Wasn’t it?

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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