Welcome to the forty-first in the series: 5pm Fiction.
Late April 2011 I discovered http://StoryADay.org and the project that is to write 31 stories in 31 days. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog, knows how passionate I am about short stories so my clichéd eyes lit up at this new marvel. And just a few days later there I was, breathing life into new characters. This went on to become (with some editing of course) my 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project when I decided that I didn’t want to stop at the end of May so 5PM Fiction was born. I put a load of prompts on the 5PM Fiction page and today’s was to write a monologue about regret, so here is my 333-worder.
My One Regret
It wasn’t standing on the edge – that had given me clarity. My heart was thumping, to be expected really. I could hear it above the chaos, the screams, the sirens of this city, new to me.
Being outside was colder than I’d expected; a real contrast to the building behind me. Not much wind, autumn hadn’t had a chance to set in. That’s how I felt; more life ahead of me than behind, or at least there should have been.
I was glad I was wearing trousers. It’s funny thinking about dignity at a time like that, but if I’d been wearing a skirt and had spun, done a cartwheel, then my knickers would have shown. Like a 5-year old’s, except they don’t care, it’s only their mothers that care about a thing like that.
I knew I’d be one of many. I wasn’t the only one to take that way out. The rest stayed. Burned. I couldn’t do that.
I wish I’d been able to say “Goodbye”, kicked myself for forgetting my mobile, leaving it on charge when I should have switched it off, put it in my handbag as I always did. Kicked myself for not knowing your number off by heart so when a colleague had said “Goodbye” to his loved ones then offered me the chance to do the same to mine… to you, I could have taken it, thanked him with all my heart, for one last opportunity; to say sorry… for arguing, for not making up before I went to the meeting. The one time I’d left like that. I could hear others leaving frantic messages on answerphones, their regret that they couldn’t speak person-to-person, that there’d never be another face-to-face.
And as I fell through the air, dropped those hundred-plus storeys of that stark, glass building, I was at peace… with myself, but not with you. That is my one regret.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.