In the Silence. Flash Fiction.

Beth could feel the bead of sweat rolling down her face, she brushed it away and took a sip of her water. She was sitting on a deck chair in the back garden, the sun shining down on her. It was another scorchingly hot day and there was no sign of things cooling off anytime soon. She looked down at the garden trowel that was lying in a patch of grass, she had intended to get some gardening done, but the short break was turning into a much longer one. It was far too hot to be doing any real physical labour today, and there was no rush on getting the place cleaned up a little. Jeremy would nag her about it later, but it wasn’t like he ever spent any time in the garden anyway. Hell, she could probably just tell him she’d done a few bits and he’d just smile and nod. Inside the house there was a crash, Beth sighed, it was probably that damned cat knocking stuff over. Jeremy had brought it home a few months before, and while it was friendly enough it enjoyed knocking things off the counter tops. She stood up and went inside, in the kitchen she quickly scanned for anything broken, then she went into the sitting room. Still nothing. She went upstairs and had a quick look around, everything seemed fine. She shook her head, maybe the noise was from next door. She stood on the landing, she hadn’t seen the cat either, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything, it was always hiding away.

Beth sat down in the chair and leaned back, closing her eyes, enjoying the sun. The argument next door was getting into full swing, from what she could tell someone, most likely Sarah, had broken a plate, maybe a glass. What ever it was they were really laying into each other. Beth took a sip of her water, it felt like it was wrong to listen, but then she couldn’t exactly ignore them at the volume they were shouting at. After a minute it seemed to die down, Beth suspected something else would kick things off again soon, they always fought terribly when it was hot. They fought when it was cold too, but to Beth’s relief it was usually harder to hear.

Beth put her book down, sighing, they were off again, though she had missed what had set them off this time. She heard a heavy, muted thump, then silence. She felt her heart beating heavily in her chest, should she say something? What would she even say? As far as she knew it had never gotten physical between them before, but then she never paid all that much attention to them either. What if she was wrong? What if he hadn’t hit her? Silence fell again, she felt herself relaxing a little, maybe she had misheard the noise, she was probably just overreacting. She heard someone stepping into the back garden next door, followed by the flick of a lighter, after a second the scent of cigarette smoke wafted over the wall. After a few seconds she could hear someone softly crying on the other side of the wall. Beth stayed still unsure what to do. A few minutes later she heard whoever it was go back inside. Beth took a sip of her drink, a thin sliver on unease moving its way through her stomach. Should she have said something? But then she might only have made things worse. She felt too hot sitting out in the sun and her stomach was feeling off. Beth gathered her things and moved them inside, the house wasn’t any cooler than outside but she felt better. She flicked on the radio and allowed the music to fill that dreadful, heavy silence.

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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