Short story, writing competition

Nocturnally ( Runner up of The Gauntlet )

Author: Lydia Smith

Illustration: Christopher Harrisson

Marc was a complex soul. To the outside world he was master of zen, he even had the stripy hippy trousers to prove it. But this had not always been the case and no-one ever knows the real story unless they themselves took the lead, and even then they can easily give into concepts of false grandeur or excuses for bad behaviour, but Marc was aware of the truth.

As Marc’s fingers gripped the gentle curls of the finely woven rug beneath him he inhaled, as he exhaled he let everything go, he lost everything that he was, lost his ego, he was faceless.

During deep meditation a person loses their identity and becomes one with the Universal energy, all well and good, but something was missing for Marc. The emptiness in his life was easy to access, it was a vacuum longing to be filled.

Back in the day Marc was a charmer, he could have any woman he wanted, and he did. He thought back to the fine meals he would woo ladies over, pan-fried fish and a full bodied red, and they were like a Rubik’s cube in his hands.

But none of them mattered after the day he met her. Initially he thought he’d seen a shooting star hurtle across the sky, but then she landed at his side. They talked nocturnally under the glittering sky, she told him about the places she’d travelled through and the strange things she’d seen. Marc told her…almost nothing about himself, what could he say, he realised he was ashamed of himself. All his stories were of conquest and the trail of broken hearts that he no longer blazed but which now hounded him. They kissed before she left, he begged her to stay but she told him the time was wrong, she would come back when the clocks were right, she left him with a single rose that she retrieved from behind her oxygen pack, Marc treasured it still.

It was then he embarked on this life changing path, he was a changed man, unrecognisable from his former self, except in Letchworth nobody seemed to be able to let go of Marc’s reputation as easily as he could. People jeered him with stories from his past and offered him invitations for easy sex.

Marc grew his hair long and started wearing a miserable blue fleece made from the most unnatural fibres he could find, the sort that catches on even the softest hands, but even this didn’t seem to dent his reputation as a stud.

The stink of stale fish and morning wine breath haunted his soul until he eventually took a knife to everything that he knew, killed it for good, and moved to Doncaster.

Nobody in Doncaster ever supposed he could handle a blue joke, or for a moment considered him “highly shaggable”, in Doncaster he was Marc, boring, predictable, quinoa munching Marc.

And Marc looked patiently to the stars waiting for the clocks to be right.

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