Join Prism Book Alliance® as Freddy MacKay goes Outside the Margins today.
Hello, welcome to the Prism Book Alliance Blog today. Freddy MacKay here, one of the contributors to Outside the Margins. For my part, I am writing 500 – 1000 word flash fiction pieces. Please forgive me, as these aren’t professionally edited (I do try to catch my mistakes), but I hope you enjoy.
On the Divide – Part 10 by Freddy MacKay
Weeks of silence had passed. In fact, they were coming up on a month and a half. When Harlan said he would back off, Cooper hadn’t honestly believed him. He figured there would be a day or two of no contact, followed by some texting or calls. He figured once a week had rolled by, so would Harlan, showing up on Cooper’s doorstep, unwelcomed, and still a jerk.
But no Harlan. No texts. No calls. No stopping by the The Jolt. Nothing.
At first the tension coiled Cooper into such a tight ball he was snapping at everyone, at the café and Band Rescue. His coworkers at the coffee shop wrote it off as the ongoing tension between Cooper and Evelyn, and he let them think that way. It allowed him to not have to answer any questions about “his date with Hot Harlan.” The guys at the music store weren’t as understanding, they pushed until Cooper punched his locker and dented it. Not the easiest of feats. When a huge thing of dark chocolate showed up in his locker Cooper knew he had to turn things around.
The problem was, he couldn’t believe Harlan would just stop and respect his wishes. The asshole had been too adamant, too overbearing with his need for friendship for Cooper to believe anything else. After his job at The Jolt being put on the line because of Evelyn’s tricks and the hangout disaster with Harlan, Cooper was on edge.
More than once he found himself at his old boxing club beating the shit out of the bag to let off steam. Cooper needed his jobs to survive. Luckily, his coach didn’t question him as long as Cooper paid his fees.
But after the fourth week rolled by, some of the underlying tension and fear started to ease up. Cooper wasn’t looking over his shoulder every time he walked outside, opened his apartment door, or when he went to work—either of his jobs. Though, there were different factors that went into helping Cooper relax.
Mabel had been true to her word and kept Evelyn and Cooper off the same shifts. It completely threw his schedule off at Band Rescue, but once they heard about “The Stalker Girl”, a few of the guys switched shifts with him. It was temporary, but at least Cooper wouldn’t have to be worried about where his next meal was coming from because of losing one or both of his jobs.
Cooper wasn’t foolish enough to think their situation could last forever, though. Something had to give. Two people with such contention between them couldn’t work together with such a small staff at The Jolt. Even if Cooper moved to the bakery, he’d still have to deal with Evelyn, and he just didn’t know if he had the willingness to do so anymore. He’d been through enough.
Even though Benji was coming around, believing that Cooper hadn’t done shit, the problem was time and resources. Evelyn had given clear instructions not to be in the store during Cooper’s shift hours, nothing had gone missing and the registers balanced. The problem was they were at a stalemate. Neither of them able to move forward.
And Cooper needed to move forward. The idea of giving up his job at the coffee shop sucked, though. Like he was giving in and losing to the likes of Evelyn. It sucked hard.
“What’s with the sigh?” Malik asked, patting Cooper on the shoulder.
“Doesn’t sound like nothing.”
Cooper welcomed the concern, but he wasn’t up for talking about anything with anyone. Not yet. He let out another long breath and shook his head. Once he said something about wanting to leave, everyone would know. Cooper didn’t need that drama either. And if that’s how he felt about things at the café, it really was time to leave.
The question was where. Moreover, he’d need to talk to Mabel. He owed her that much after how well she treated him and was so flexible about his needs for school.
Just shit. The resignation and disappointment filled Cooper up to the breaking point. His chest felt heavy and his head buzzed. The world floated away until the only thing Cooper was aware of was his own breathing.
In. Out. In. Out. Controlled, precise movements he used to ward off the world.
Things had been going so well.
Yes, Cooper was always tired, and more than a little ragged from the two jobs and school, but at least it felt like his life was under control. His control. Cooper squatted down, curling up and burying his face in his hands.
Conversation buzzed around him, but the words made no sense. Cooper wasn’t able to gain any understanding of them. The noise from the café was drowned out too. All Cooper heard was his own heartbeat. The hard thump-thump that echoed through his head and down to his toes.
He gasped, fighting for air. Cooper needed air more than anything. If only he could breathe than everything else would be okay. But he couldn’t. The burn of each wheeze made it harder to get his lungs to listen. And the lights were too bright, they hurt his eyes. The colors around him blurred and a large pain shot through Cooper’s shoulder. Something hard banged against his head. More agony ripped through Cooper despite his cheek pressing against something cold and soothing.
And that’s when it hit him.
When was the last time Cooper had a panic attack?
About Freddy MacKay
I grew up and went to college in the Midwest where I currently reside with my family. I spend most of my time playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since I was little, except who is included my activities. I also have a healthy geocaching addiction. It’s so much fun! I enjoy spending my time traveling when I can, and I hold the view that a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.
My contemporary LGBTQ book, Incubation: Finding Peace 2, won 3rd Place – Best Gay Erotic Fiction in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. In 2013, Internment, won 3rd Place – Best Gay Fantasy in the Rainbow Awards. Feel Me (The Marduck Expanse) was a Gay SF Finalist and Honorable Mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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