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 write 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 30 by Freddy MacKay
Evelyn smiled up at Cooper. Her eyes shone bright, her smile stretched a little too wide to be nice, and she clasped her hands behind her back. To and fro she rocked onto her tip-toes then back onto her heels. An innocent gesture by someone whose halo fell off and rolled away the minute her horns grew in. By no means did Evelyn’s child-like behavior match the interior of the beast inside.
Cooper took a step back, then another and another since Evelyn matched him move for move, staying on him like a rattler ready to strike. The noise in the library drowned away, an empty gurgle in it’s place. The gurgle most likely the words Cooper recognized were coming from Evelyn’s mouth but he didn’t hear them. Just white noise.
The static surrounded him, turning everything fuzzy and out of focus. Cooper blinked, took slow breaths, but the metallic black swam in from the edges and blinded him.
What was she doing here? Of all the places Evelyn could’ve popped up, the college library was not one of them.
And shit, if that what wasn’t throwing Cooper off, he didn’t know what was.
Evelyn, popping up out of nowhere, the unexpectedness of it. The intrusion of the supposition Cooper had made was putting him in a tailspin. The rational, normal part of Cooper understood it. Knew her presence shouldn’t upset him so much. But logic didn’t win the battles where emotions trampled everyone underfoot.
The rest of him couldn’t give two shits. The frantic race of his pulse, the way his chest ached so much he thought it would burst, and Cooper’s clammy palms said Evelyn scared the ever-living fuck out of him—All teeny-tiny five foot and a half of her.
Size didn’t matter when his amygdala said “run you fucking idiot!”
Cooper spun around. Right into a bookshelf. One of his elbow’s struck something soft and there was a shriek. An extremely girly sounding one. It sounded mad.
“Shit!” Cooper grunted as he toppled back onto the something soft.
Cooper rolled, another shriek busting his eardrums as he got off of the something soft. He pushed up, trying to regain his balance, but everything was off kilter. Too bright. Too fuzzy.
A hand grabbed one of his arms. “Cooper?”
He shook it off. “Don’t touch me!”
“Okay… okay… “ the voice said, echoing in Cooper’s ears. It came out more irritated when it spoke again. “Do you know what happened here? Who are you? Hey! Wait!”
The buzz inside Cooper pushed out all at once. He hunched over, the bile rose too quickly, his stomach burst like a broken dam, and he threw up. Hard. All the muscles in his core convulsed together, painfully tightening and contorting in ways people should never have to experience as Cooper lost his lunch.
Days really knew how to turn sideways quick, and all Cooper could think of while his body shook apart, was how much he wished he wasn’t broken.
When Jo managed to get Cooper calmed down enough to explain what happened, she sat with him, pretending he was actually working and helping her find research materials for a report until his world stopped strobing out on him.
Clocking out went by in a blur, then next thing Cooper knew Jo had him in his apartment and settled down on the futon. The smell of chicken curry flooded his apartment. A big fluffy blanket—since when did he have one of those?—surrounded Cooper and a movie played in the background.
At some point during the movie, he had shown up, a conversation happened between Jo and Harlan, and the “shift” changed. Jo on her way back to home, while Harlan putted around the apartment.
Harlan handed Cooper a mug of tea. Something meant to calm him. Cooper made a face and sipped tentatively anyway.
“Want something else?” Harlan asked.
“No, it’s fine.”
“I can make some—”
“The tea is fine,” Cooper snapped. He winced. It wasn’t Harlan’s fault he felt this way. The ingrained self-loathing for his idiocy was not something new. The face he made had nothing to do with the tea and everything with himself.
Cooper was a head case, and he knew it. Ever since the night at Stubby’s, Cooper’s hard fought independence and self-worth had taken a beating. Lots of them. He wasn’t sure if having Harlan around helped or not. In some ways his “not-boyfriend” served as a reminder of how much further Cooper’s mental state needed to go. In others, Harlan felt safe. Like the broken pieces didn’t matter so much. Then again, Harlan liked broken things. What did that say about Cooper?
Being able to believe in himself, to know he could function on his own and make his own decisions was important to Cooper. Being independent of toxic influences meant progress for him.
Harlan… Was Harlan a toxic influence. Yes, he had nothing on Evelyn, but something needed to be said of his desire to “save” the people he dated.
The only person who could save Cooper was himself.
“Hey, you doing okay?” Harlan nudged Cooper’s knee with his own.
Cooper almost jumped, but managed to get ahold of himself and let out a wary sigh. “Not, yet, but I will.”
At some point, Harlan had obviously sat down next to Cooper while he mused, lost in his own head. They were close, surprisingly so. Cooper normally would’ve noticed someone invading his personal safety zone.
But he hadn’t. Not when Harlan crossed it. The damn man practically dove over Cooper’s safety zone all the time, and for some reason, Cooper relented. All the time.
Cooper turned his gaze on his “not-boyfriend” and had to wonder why.
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,
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