Harsh Mistress

As I closed the door behind me and walked up the unlit hall I sensed her in the bedroom. I spoke no words of greeting and received none. I put my keys down on the coffee table in the lounge and headed for the kitchen. The cats food bowl was empty and the light on the extractor fan above the hob that I had forgotten to switch off in the morning was still glowing. I switched it off and turned on the main kitchen light over the sink. The water from the tap sprayed over my hand as I filled the kettle with enough water for one cup. I tossed a tea bag into a mug and reached over to the fridge for the milk.

While I was waiting for the kettle to boil I switched the TV on and flicked to channel four for the news. Another scandal involving the prime minister and the media filled the screen. The kettle finished boiling and I walked back past the breakfast bar to my mug. Water in, I let it steep for a minute then squeezed the bag twice with a teaspoon. I flung the squashed tea bag into the bin. The milk, as always, went in last.

As I sat down on the sofa in front of the TV my thoughts turned to the bedroom. I would at some point have to go in there. My heart pounded in my chest and the usual knot of guilt made it’s presence felt in my stomach. We started two years ago. On a dark wintry day in London I had taken the day off the work and walked to the local park. It had just begun to rain when she came to me.

It had started off well, so exciting and interesting. And new. At work I thought about her all day and couldn’t wait to come home to her. I would dream about her every time I slept. I guess the beginnings are always the best.

I first started to have doubts about five months in. I began to think about her less. I would find reasons to not come straight home. A pint after work. Slow, leisurely shops around the supermarket. I had even stopped dreaming about her.

Eventually, I don’t remember exactly when, I began to think about moving on. I felt numb and passionless. My life had become boring and mundane. All of the initial spark had left. The guilt I felt when I thought about leaving her was tremendous. It felt like such a waste. All of that love and energy for nothing. I couldn’t leave her.

My eyes and thoughts began to wander. I started to look elsewhere. I wanted that buzz of the beginning. A new start. I wanted to feel passion again. To feel alive. She came to me on the bus on the way back from the cinema. I had gone alone to watch a documentary. A documentary about a chimp being brought up like a human.

She was amazing. Suddenly I felt alive again. I hadn’t felt this for so long. She was different from her. She was unpredictable, spontaneous, passionate. So passionate. But no sooner had we begun than it was over. I felt good about it though. My confidence was soaring. It was brief but powerful. Of course I felt guilt but that lessened with every new affair. And there were many. I just couldn’t give her up.

I picked up my mug of tea, switched off the television and walked towards the bedroom. The handle felt cold to my touch as I opened the door. I switched on the light on my desk and pressed the power button on my laptop. As it whirred into life I was debating whether I was in the mood. I hadn’t looked at her in a while.

I opened her up and skipped through to chapter eight. This was as far as I had got. Two years to write eight chapters. If it had not been for all the short stories I would have undoubtedly already finished her.


15 responses to “Harsh Mistress

  • Casey Goodrow

    Found my way over from your twitter page after you unfollowed me (lol, hey, whatever your reasons I don’t take it personally).

    Fun story. I expected a twist and thought maybe you were talking about the cat until the third to last paragraph. I do think you betray your reader a little when you suggest the food bowl hasn’t been topped off, which suggests someone else should have done it.

  • No Tall Stories

    Don’t take it personally man, I’m still getting used to this twitter stuff. Probably a misclick. Anyway, thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

  • Pete Armetta

    I was questioning and questioning (which I like) and when I got to the end just totally related to times when I’ve had someone in my life who was so confounding, and over the years after, realized what an important and influential person they were to me.


  • leamuse

    Your mistress sounds a lot like a few of the demons I have had tormenting me from time to time. And if I manage to get closure, there is always another one awaiting me in the shadows. I enjoyed the story.
    Thanks for following one of my blogs.


  • versa kay

    I suggest you go on a honeymoon to kindle the spark once again.We look forward to reading an epic.

  • sandraconner

    GREAT story, Tim! I’m a novelist and a poet, but I’ve written very few short stories, and I stand in awe of the few people who do it superbly. To be able to say so much so well, in so few words, is truly a gift. A delightful piece.

    I originally hopped over to say thank you for visiting one of my blogs and following. I
    am genuinely delighted with this site, and your header photo is terrific.

    I read the poems as well. I’m assuming they are your own work. My favorite is definitely “The Tourist.” It speaks to all of us who enjoy traveling. I think every one of us has been there/done that, many times over.

    Thanks for connecting.
    May the Lord make His face to shine on you today!

  • bonaru

    Hi, I’ve just started reading your blog after your visit to mine. I really like your goal of ‘enjoying words’. Sometimes writers get so stressed they forget to play with words. I enjoyed Harsh Mistress. I love twists. Sometimes I feel like I’m neglecting my human relationships when I stay up late working on my novel, it is a very passionate, obsessive relationship. I look forward to reading more of your stories. πŸ™‚

  • dpbowman

    Even if this were tall, I’d not e able to stop reading until I reached the end. Not a page-turner (only due to length) but definately a POV-turner. Really connected.
    I hereby declare I am a hedonistic, libertine with all of my lovely writings! Forgive me my muse. πŸ™‚

  • darkestangelica

    There is no end to your talent. Another great post! πŸ™‚

  • Toasha

    The funny thing is your mistress is much like my real life relationships. Sadly not a story I am writing on paper, but the story of me in my mind. Never the ending I hoped for. And never finished.

  • fgcarti

    Loved it! I loved the initial detailed focus on making tea while describing the protagonists’ thoughts. Made it even more real and easy to place myself in the story. I naively thought you were referring to actual women, which was good cause it made the ending even more clever. The empty cat bowl help as well. Great Job!

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