Indelible and Other Stories Added£7.49
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(A long short story of 35440 words)

Indelible and Other Stories


by Paul Lahert

Twelve stories for anyone who's ever been burned.

Errant husbands, doomed newlyweds, bruised boxers, abandoned wives, damaged former-soldiers and, of course, the ghosts of the ones that got away - these are just a few of the protagonists that feature in a collection of stories and vignettes that explore the dark side of love. Ranging from the visceral to the tender, each deals with what can happen when the light of its promise gives way to the dark of its night. How it can injure, corrode and corrupt. What it does to us and what it can make us do.

***Please Note: Three stories from this collection - "Glass Jaw", "Itch/Scratch" and "Hocus Pocus" are also available separately on this site.***

The following extract is from the story "Needs":

Henry was sitting on the edge of the hotel bed, trying to occupy himself while he waited. This mostly came in the form of glancing over at his companion, taking care not to do it so often as to seem impatient. She was at the dresser, tapping on her phone. Usually this might have irritated him, but the room was basic and if you wanted a little musical accompaniment to the evening’s events then technology would have to be given its due.
He tilted his head to stretch his neck a little, trying to loosen up, rolling his shoulders, feeling, no, more than that, hearing, the muscles click as he did so. So much for enjoying the anticipation, he thought, and half-wondered when he’d last felt like this. He cast his mind back a moment, back over what had gone so fast but somehow seemed so long ago. He briefly saw himself, another strange room, a teenager, waiting. But no. No, that wasn’t quite accurate. Just a pose he adopted for his friends, and at least a couple of them had probably been telling the same lie. Henry himself had turned twenty a relative innocent and had remained so until his wedding night later that same year. A one-woman man. It was the kind of thing people now might call sweet, quaint even, if he ever told them. Which he didn’t. He never spoke about stuff like that. Sometimes he wondered if things would have been different if he’d been born later, but he knew himself to be a romantic and by this reckoning he’d have probably been the same whatever his generation. He’d never know for sure, of course. You get the times you get, but he had no regrets. Not about that, at least. And anyway, things were different now.
His mouth was dry, so he took a drink from the glass of water she’d left on the bedside table. On putting it back he found he wasn’t sure what to do with his hands, and so settled for clasping them together in his lap, the fidgeting of his fingers continuing regardless. He chuckled to himself, Man, you have it bad today. Then the answer to his earlier question came to him unbidden, the last time he felt like this: this same day last year.
He looked over in the direction of her voice.
“You ready?”
He nodded.
“Good,” and with a dramatic flourish, she tapped the phone one last time. The bluetooth speaker synced, the music started, and a swell of strings suddenly filled the room, followed by Sinatra’s unmistakeable tones. The sound of better days. Henry closed his eyes, and let the music glide over him, taking him away as he internally sang every word, each note coming out pitch-perfect, aided by the benevolent acoustics of his memory.
She walked over to him and he opened his eyes, taking her in. Tight black dress, high heels, hair just right - shoulder length, tousled slightly. Old school sexy. New school as well as far as he was concerned. She looked…terrific. The word had long been his premiere compliment of choice and he could think of none better now. She gently motioned for him to get to his feet and guided his hands, the left to her waist, the right raised, interlaced with her fingers. She pulled him in close and he accepted the invitation. And then they danced, gently swaying together, their bodies slowly beginning to move in unison. He closed his eyes again and kept them that way, going with the motion, feeling the weight of her head as she rested it on his shoulder. The tension that had been so palpable in his muscles just moments before, slowly fading as the trumpets sounded and the tune reached its crescendo.
And then the song was over.
She stepped back. “You’re improving.”
“I just didn’t step on your toes this time.”
She smiled, her gaze finding his eyes and holding his look...

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