//Flash fiction : IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?

It starts around the age of four or five. I don’t remember when exactly. We’re holding hands in the playground until she notices and she goes “Ew, get off”.

She’s seven years old and for some reason I’ve been invited to her birthday party, there’s cake, balloons and games, but I don’t get to see any of that because I’ve broken my collar bone trying to show her my army role in the first fifteen minutes of being there. I mess up the landing and spend most of the day in A and E. I don’t get invited back for anymore of her birthdays after that.

I’m eight and my older brother tells me a surefire way to make a girl like you. So after he tells me, the next day in the playground, I go up behind her, cupping my hand and I swing it as hard as I can.
She screams so loud my brother heard it on the other side of the school, she cries for twenty minutes straight and I spend the afternoon sat outside the headmaster’s office and the rest of the week in detention.

I spend most of my ninth year trying to tell her I’m sorry but she doesn’t want to be friends, not ever.

We’re ten years old and she’s become a bit of an obsession, just look inside my exercise book if you don’t believe me.
She’s in the corridor by the drink fountain, that slimy Phillip Collins is standing next to her. She’s smiling and twirling a strand of her blonde hair around her finger. Her eyes light up when she sees me and she waves, I’m frozen and for a second I don’t do anything and then I raise my hand but it doesn’t come up in one smooth motion. My arm moves like I’m a dried out rusty tin man. She just looks at me funny.
Lisa and Tiffany come up behind me, they say something to me but I don’t really hear it, I don’t really hear anything other than a deep thumping in my head. Then they’re all stood around the fountain and they’re all staring at me funny, like I’m from another planet. I can’t move, so we’re just all there, standing, staring.

Eleven and I’m at the school disco. She’s standing by the drinks and snacks table with her girlfriend’s. I’ve waited for this moment for months, I figure it’ll be just like the movies, I’ll say how much I love her and then she’ll tell me she loves me too. But it’s not like that, not in real life.
I just spend the night leaning against the back wall of the hall, in the shadows, watching her dance with Matthew Townshend. It’s OK because no one can see me crying.

Thirteen and she’s kissing Dave Cheetham behind the bike sheds, it’s like the sixth time this week, third time today. Today, he slips his hand up her jumper.
Later, during cross country, Dave Cheetham and his buddies are kicking the crap out of me for being a perv and a creep. The mud and leaves against my face are really cold.
She’s standing with Lisa and Jodie (Tiffany got leukemia and no ones seen her in a while) They all have their arms crossed and they’re all laughing. The other kids are just jogging passed, splashing muddy water over me, trying to not make eye contact.

Sixteen and I guess she’s seeing some guy who drives an adult sized toy car. Everyone at school says he’s a drug dealer, but he also works at the Cinema too, I’ve seen him there. He’s about the same age as my brother, so I don’t think it’s legal.

After we take our GCSEs, I don’t see her for a long time. It’s only after a few years of being at University and then after I’ve dropped out, realising I won’t be the next Quentin Tarantino. After I’ve been working at the cinema. After I’ve moved out of my Mum’s bungalow and gotten my own flat, after that I’m the general manager and I buy a new BMW.

Now. It’s been about two months since I bought my BMW and I’m cruising to work, feeling pretty great about my life actually. When I see her alone, pushing a pram. It’s definitely her, she’s a little fatter and her hair is a lot shorter and not so neat anymore and she has these big hoop earrings and she’s wearing pink running bottoms that have dirty stains on the back of them. But it’s definitely her.

I suddenly have all these moments from my life play themselves before me in my mind, reeling off the greatest hits of my misery years.
I think about all the things I wish I’d said to her. I think about all the nights I was alone in my bedroom.
I think about all the pain and the sadness and the anger and the love and the passion I had for her, then I think about my life now.
The car is just rolling next to her and she’s noticed.
I think to myself, if not now, then when?
I have to tell her how I feel.

I keep the engine running, she’s just standing there, frozen.
I press the button above the door handle and with a hum the window starts moving down. I lean over the hand break and look up at her, she looks down at me and I see in her eyes that she’s been crying. Through her puffy, glazed eyes I can tell she’s trying to figure out who I am.
I smile. “Remember me?”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s