Until Daniel – short fiction by MorgEn Bailey

The following piece of flash fiction is from Morgen’s larger short story collection (250 stories), Fifty 5pm Fictions Collection, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon  and Morgen’s online store where you can not only instantly download the collection but also purchase the paperback dedicated to you or as a present! We hope you enjoy this story…

Until Daniel

You’ve done this dozens of times; tell someone it’s over, watched their reaction – sometimes expected, more often not.

You’ve said it different ways too, as if any way is going to soften the blow. There’s been hysterics, cries of “why?”. To the latter you don’t really have an answer. You’ve been tempted to say “some things are just not meant to be,” but you feel that’s heartless and despite everything you say, that’s not you.

A couple have hit you… one regretted it immediately, the other didn’t, but you knew he’d be a tough cookie; loud, brash… your total opposite.

Sometimes they have relatives with them and that’s really embarrassing, but you know it cushions the blow. You have tissues ready because one of them will need it – they usually do.

Daniel’s the latest, the hardest. You sit him down and go through your usual patter, more gently than normal because you’ve grown fond of him, but you’ve learned that fondness gets you nowhere.

You can’t tell yet whether he’s anticipated this; there’s no reaction. Sometimes you’re doing them a favour, setting them free, but until Daniel they’ve always shown it in their face.

You’re nearly at the end of your speech when he speaks.

“Jeffrey,” he says softly. “It’s fine. I’ve known for a while. Prepared.”

And you wonder how he’s prepared, what he’s done to move on but you know it’ll soon be none of your business. You want to say, “let’s stay in touch”, be corny, but it doesn’t feel right. You never stay in touch with any of them, and he’s the only one you’ve wanted to offer it to.

You nod and he gets up to leave. “Daniel. I’m sorry,” you say and for once you mean it.

“I know,” he says, and you watch him leave.

Through the glass you see him return to his desk, empty an archive box and fill it with his things. He looks around at the other empty desks then puts on his coat. As he walks past your office he smiles and you both know he’ll be fine. Unlike you he’ll quickly get another job while you spend your days circling opportunities, filling forms and sitting in waiting rooms for your name to be called.

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