Join Prism Book Alliance® as Freddy MacKay goes Outside the Margins today.
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 for a story called On the Divide. These are not professionally edited but I do try to catch my mistakes. I hope you enjoy.
On the Divide – Part 13 by Freddy MacKay
The meal had been quiet. The clink of silverware was loud in the apartment. Their conversation came in stilted bursts and mostly consisted of asking to pass the noodles, how the herb chicken had been cooked to perfection, and that the sauce was good in moderation.
Cooper wanted to say something, anything, to break the uneasy tension between them but didn’t know how to say “I’m sorry I was a douche for assuming you’re a psychotic stalker.”
Maybe he should just say that? No, that seemed like a bad idea. What he still didn’t understand was why Harlan showed up today of all days. Maybe starting there would be best.
Cooper cleared his throat, chuckling nervously. “So, um, why did you stop by today?”
“Oh,” Harlan said before nodding. “Right. I had stopped by The Jolt, but they said you went home suddenly. That you weren’t feeling well. I was worried Evelyn had done something.”
“And The Jolt?”
“I figured I’d given you enough time to cool your head and realize You’d been overreacting to everything.” Harlan cringed. “Obviously that was wrong.”
“Tabitha really did a number on you, didn’t she?”
Cooper nodded. She had, and he hadn’t moved on as much as he thought he had. His gut clenched. How much of a loser was he that he still couldn’t tell friend from foe? Or when someone was being genuinely nice or a shit-piece of stalker?
“Coop?” Harlan said. “You seem like a nice guy.”
Wow. Was he getting a break up speech from someone he’d barely been involved with? Acquaintances was probably the best term applied to them before. God, what a fucking loser Cooper must be to run barely-there strangers off. He dropped his head into his hands.
Please just let him get this over with quick.
“Cooper? You listening?”
“Um, sorry. I kinda spaced out there,” he replied. “Long day.”
“Not a problem.”
Cooper glanced up. The look on Harlan’s face seemed sincere. The eyebrows scrunched up in concern. His mouth closed tight. The pensive edge that surrounded his blue eyes.
God. Cooper felt like an ass. He’d been a douche from the start. Never really giving Harlan a chance from the get-go. He sighed.
It took a moment, but Cooper managed to get the apology out, then he said, “I thought I was doing okay, you know? Working. School. Working. Maybe it was just another form of denial I wasn’t. But it’s not like I can afford not to work. It’s not an excuse, but I do want you to know there is a reason.”
Harlan nodded. “Yeah, my ex, there were things he was never okay with despite it being years since he was raped. It takes time to work through things and sometimes it takes a long time too. Wounds don’t heal over night.”
“When did you get to be so smart?” Cooper asked.
“Bartend long enough and you hear a lot of stories.” Harlan shrugged. “If you’re halfway human you pick up some empathy along the way.”
Maybe, but that was the cynic in Cooper talking. He wanted to believe. He did. He just didn’t know how. He thought he had but he’d obviously been wrong.
Harlan stood, grabbing his dishes. He walked them over to the sink before coming back for Cooper’s. He handed them over before taking in the amount of food left over. It’d go bad before he finished it all/
“Do you want to take some of this to go with you?” Cooper asked. “I’ve got storage containers left and right so you can bring some home with you.”
“You sure you don’t want to keep it?” Harlan glanced toward the fridge.
Yeah, it was scary empty. “It’ll go bad before I finish all it off.”
Harlan shook his head then picked up the chicken. “Not if you store it right.”
With a large exhale Cooper didn’t even try to fight it. He let Harlan scoop the food into different containers and hoped he was able to finish it all. Maybe he could look up some ideas online.
Harlan came back to the table and sat down, clasping his hands in front of him. His brooding eyes held Cooper captive. He should say something but, once again, Cooper didn’t know what the right thing to say was. Sorry for being a gutless ninny? Too bad you had the hots for broken goods? Don’t worry about saying goodbye as you leave?
Cooper shifted, chuckling again. Damn. God. Shitballs. He sounded like a pansy.
“I’m sorry,” Harlan said. “I don’t mean to make you nervous.”
“It’s not you,” Cooper said automatically. “It’s me. Really, it is. Sorry you got interested in someone like me.”
Harlan frowned. “Someone like you?”
“A pansy like me. Scared of his own shadow.”
“No, Cooper. I’m not sorry. The only thing I’m sorry for is someone ever made you feel less of a person for who you are.”
About Freddy MacKayI 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,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|