[I wrote this in June 2016, around the same time as Something’s Coming. This was my attempt to write a piece of flash fiction with a twist. I came up with the twist first, and went backwards from there. I tried to make the twist one that people would get, but nobody has guessed it first time yet. I decided to add in a few more passages to make it more obvious. If you think you’ve figured it out, leave me a comment! Properly formatted PDF at the end as usual.]
I met somebody at work today. There was something about his eyes that rang hollow like the kind of expression I imagine people see me to have. It’s not often that I see that look in people – there’s usually just that standard manufactured glaze that digs really deep inside me, realising how inevitable everything really is.
At lunch I took him aside and properly introduced myself, shaking his hand, hoping I wasn’t being too forward. I told him about my flat and my collection of back issues of Time magazine. I can’t remember the last time I made friends with someone so instantly. I mean it really has been years.
The first job that I ever had was at the post office, mainly in the back room, sorting out the packages and letters and postcards and making sure they were in the right order and that the right postage was paid on certain items. Sometimes I had to run the desk, giving the public the parcels that were too big to fit through their letterboxes.
The best friend that I made at that job was called Daisy. She was married, had two kids, and appeared to have quite a large number of friends, some of whom I saw in passing but never when they were speaking to her. She liked going on holiday to Cornwall and Scotland. She spoke about how her kids would climb on national monuments and that she’d had to get them off before anyone caused a fuss about it. She said her and her husband laughed and laughed. Her husband sounded like a nice guy, and I’m glad that people like them had procreated. She had trouble affixing stamps to some of her postcards, so I’d always restick them to make sure they didn’t fall off. When they were particularly badly affixed it really did surprise me that they’d made it as far as the post office, but I’d always forgive her for it and make sure that they made it on their way alright.
My friend at work now is called Donald, and he used to work in the office block just a couple of streets away that I pass every day on my way to work. I don’t think I’d like to work in there though, people that work in offices often tend to give me a shiver in my upper back that doesn’t go away until I’m away from them. Donald will be much happier here, although I know he won’t be staying long. He’s going to be the hardest one to let go yet so I plan on telling him everything before his family take him away, then I’ll be left here in the cold with my boss and the rest of these people, all of them cold and unmoving, none of whom have ever shared with me that truly empty stare like Donald does. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a friend like him again. It’s hard making friends with people who can’t speak back to you.
[PDF download link: Acquaintances by AJ Tarrant]