Mark Cantrell, Author

For an eclectic mix of science fiction, fantasy and a touch of horror...


STORY: Confronted With The Demands Of Commitment

Posted by Mark Cantrell on October 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

"Final Draft"

Commitment is everything for an author, as Dan learns in this flash fiction piece by Mark Cantrell, but can he keep the girl?

DAN was having a great time.


His fingers flew over the keyboard, bringing the story to life. It was like being in there with his characters, listening to their every word, watching their every move. He was the silent witness completely embroiled in their lives - until Kelly stormed in and broke the spell.


"Hey, you promised..."


Here we go again. That was Kelly, forever cramping his literary style, but he figured she had a point this time. Yeah, he'd promised. Just the two of them, a special night: a meal out, maybe take in a show, later on a club - just dance the night away and lose themselves in each other. Bliss of another kind, but his muse came calling and she had to come first.


"Dan, please..."


The hurt in her voice made him wince, but he tried to hold his words in mind long enough to finish the sentence.


"I'm sorry, babe," he managed to say. "I got caught up. I'll make it up, I promise."


"You always promise, but then I lose you in that thing. Even when you're not writing you've got that faraway look in your eyes. I'm starting to feel like I'm not really here."


"Hey, that's not true. You know how I feel about you."


"Sure. That's why your eyes are glued to the screen."


Shit! Dan let his fingers slip away from the keyboard. He turned to face Kelly, ready to relive the same tired arguments.  Cosying up to a writer was exciting, exotic; now she knew otherwise. Behind the gloss it was a shabby affair of isolation and hard work - and that cut both ways.


Kelly was all dressed up ready to go. Abandoned before the night was even begun, he guessed she had a right to be pissed off. There was none of the fight he'd expected to see, only a nervous wide-eyed expression of hurt. Under that gaze, he found his irritation turned to shame.


"I'm sorry. You know what I'm like. I lost track of time. You know I love you."


She snorted a barely suppressed sob. Her eyes were brimming, he realised, slow on the uptake as ever.


"I can't do this any more, Dan. I'm tired of being stood up by your make-believe friends. It's me or that machine!"


The ultimatum didn't make sense. Without his writing he was nothing; certainly not the man she'd made her own. Dan's mind grinded the gears usually associated with writer's block, trying to figure his way out of the bind. She couldn't mean it, but even though her lower lip trembled, her jaw was set the way it always was when she'd made up her mind.


"Kelly, come on..."


Torn, he stared at the woman he'd always imagined would be there at his side during the literary parties, the book launches, the signings, sharing his fantasies of success becoming real. Then he turned to stare at the laptop, the tool of that success, with the incomplete story waiting for the renewed vigour of his attention.


Back to his girl, her large eyes beseeching, and he felt something give way inside. There really was no choice, he realised, not once he stripped away the layers of self-delusion. With a resigned sigh he closed the laptop.


Kelly rushed forward to wrap her arms around his shoulders. Tearfully, she said: "I love you."


Dan gently took her hand in his and gave it an affectionate squeeze.


"I'll help you pack."



Mark Cantrell,


24 July 2011


Copyright (c) July 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Categories: FICTION

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