Broken Man by Lee Kelly.

He watched as his shadow swayed across the bed, its shape distorted by the topography of the figure beneath the sheets. He stood in silent vigil, resting heavily against the door frame and swirled the bottle held loosely at his side, feeling it's balance shift as the whisky eddied within. The sleeper moved, sending his shadow dancing across the crisp cotton; A soft sigh, thick with sleep, then silence once more.

This was the woman he had given it all up for. This was the woman that had cost him his wife, his home, and everything he had ever owned. He had fought quite literally tooth and nail for her from the very start. ‘Us against the world’ they had said and it had been proven to be more than just words. They had battled from the start and she had ensured that he’d never been able to draw breath since. ‘She’s a head-f**k’, ‘she’s poison’… he’d been warned by so many, but he’d listened to no-one. Now he had no-one to listen to, save her.

A tear formed in his eye and he gripped the neck of the bottle with renewed purpose. He raised it to his lips and let the whisky flood his mouth, holding it until the alcohol burn became overwhelming and he was forced to swallow the fire. Wiping away the tear with the back of his hand, he lowered the bottle back to his side and shuddered with a repressed sob.

The form on the bed shifted again. “Babe? Is that you?”

“Yes, it’s me…” His voice soft, choked on tears and bitter whisky.

“It’s late. You should be in bed.” She raised the bed sheet, beckoning him in. The gesture stirred the still air, filling the room with the gentle fragrance of fabric softener and the warm cinder-toffee scent of her skin. “I miss you when you’re not here.”

“I’m always here. Where else would I be?”

The sob broke and his tears spilled. He took another hit from the bottle before resting it on the dresser, then moved slowly towards the bed. He had lost everything, but he knew right now that he would do it all again in a heartbeat if he had to. He was a broken man, but he was her man. He could be nothing else.

Lee Kelly is still a newcomer to the writing game but he's been fortunate enough to have both of his previous submissions see the light of day: 'Master of The Estate' appeared in Byker Books' 'Radgepacket: Tales of The Inner Cities - Volume 5' and his stab at horror, 'Dig', appeared in Wild Wolf Publishing's 'Holiday of The Dead' anthology.

14 comments:

ajhayes2 said...

I've always been suspicious of "Us against the world." Kind of always reminded me of those signs on slot machine emporiums that say "Guaranteed" 98% payback." It's just another way of saying "eventually you're gonna lose every dime you got." Story is a great reminder of that. Cool.

David Barber said...

Well done, Lee. There's loss and love in this story but you also kept it gritty and dark. Some fine words here.

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Heartfelt! What we do for love is not always the best. But once you have it, it's hard to let go. Great flow to this. I was standing behind him.

Jeanette Cheezum

Groovydaz40 said...

Powerful and clever Lee. Great descriptive writing and that soft, muted melancholy that leaves the reader with questions but remains as satisfying as a steak dinner. Sublime.

Sue H said...

Sad, poignant and a salutary reminder that the grass may not always be greener, but life is what you make it. Beautifully written and emotionally charged.
Bravo!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

wow, totally got me with the ending, figured he was going to smash her over the skull with the bottle. Excellent writing on display there in moving very story.

Graham Smith said...

Poignant and thought provoking. Excellently written.

sarah kelly said...

Well done :) so very proud of my big brother. I love youuuu xxxxx

Lee Kelly said...

Thank you one and all for your feedback. It's very much appreciated and I'm glad that you all enjoy it.

AK Dawson said...

This is strong stuff, Lee, and I'm not surprised your other two stories have been accepted (one of them by Byker Books, which is just over the river and up the road from me) - that's not a bad hit rate at all. You captured a sense of despair and hopelessness perfectly, and I was left with the feeling that love is an addiction like any other. Hope the story's not autobiographical.

Anonymous said...

David Harry Moss said -
Lee - Really liked your story - made me wonder what is going to happen to this guy when she leaves him for someone else -

Lee Kelly said...

You cynical sort, you.

But yeah, lots of unanswered questions in this, which I like to do in my writing. I hate nice, neat 'all loose ends tied-up' finishes, because life isn't like that

Dionne Clark said...

I know that since you have had yet another comment you are going to give me wrong for not commenting. Lee, you know what I think and I'm too biased to leave a review of your writing! You will always be amazing to me and continue to inspire me with everything you do. I'm very proud of you.

Ron Scheer said...

Enjoyed reading a nicely polished piece, and without a predictable ending--like killing her. All For Love is a powerful theme; it's rarely done without the puritanical fear of desire ruining it. Thanks to Mr. Barber for luring me over here today from twitter.