'Flash!' Winter 2017

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

A short story written by Imaginarium House member, Hullabaloo22.

Chapter 24 (v.1) - Picture Perfect

Submitted: December 01, 2017

Reads: 89

Comments: 1

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Submitted: December 01, 2017



Picture Perfect


John and Selena sat together in their flat and came to an agreement. They had lived there for six whole months – half a year – and it looked exactly the same as the day they had moved in to it. They needed to make their own mark on it; they needed to make it their ‘home’.


A picture, that’s what we need to get,” said John.


Yeah,” Selena agreed. “Something personal, something that reflects US. We’ve still got another six months left on the lease and we’ll lose ourselves if we carry on living like this.”


If John thought that was a rather dramatic way of putting it he kept it to himself. He and Selena had finally reached an agreement on something that would make the flat feel more homely. The flat would become ‘their place’, a sanctuary from the world outside that was theirs and theirs alone.


John spent his working hours in an office. He sat at a desk typing numbers on a keyboard; adding, subtracting, making sure that everything tallied. He’d sometimes exchange comments with one or two of his workmates, say ‘hi’ to a few regular commuters on his train, but otherwise his workday was a quiet and solitary experience.


Selena managed a chain-store boutique. An up-and-coming, super trendy one at that. From the moment the doors opened to the moment they shut there was always someone looking for the right thing to wear, searching for the perfect outfit. It was noisy, it was chaotic, it was bright and colourful. There was a constant background of music and chat, and Selena thrived on it.


Friends of either John or Selena often commented about what an odd couple they made. They didn’t share friends. In fact they didn’t seem to share much at all apart from the flat that they lived in. Both were heard to comment on more than one occasion that they were the living proof of the saying that ‘opposites attract’.


Coming home from work the day following their discussion, John popped in to a gallery that he had passed every work day without giving it so much as a glance. There were all sorts of pictures on display, by all sorts of artists; with, he noticed, all sorts of price tags. He stood there looking, feeling overwhelmed and momentarily unsure. And then he spotted it and knew without doubt that that was the picture he wanted.


Selena dashed out during her lunch break. She knew just the place to go for that picture that was to turn the flat into ‘theirs’. The artists at the gallery were frequent visitors to the boutique and Selena knew a lot of them by name. There was music, there was colour, there was ‘life’ in this gallery. So many pictures to choose from but even with the discount her friends were giving her most were out of her price range. And then she saw it, the perfect picture, the one that would make her feel ‘at home’.


John and Selena both laughed when they realised what they had done. They had both gone out on exactly the same day to buy their ‘piece of personality’. That just had to show that something was right, that a connection was strong between them. Didn’t it?


You go first.” Selena was insistent. She wanted to see the representation of their life together that John had picked.


It was a picture of a boat moored up by a lake, a rowing boat at that! It was all done in calm and muted tones with great attention to detail. It was peaceful. It was meticulous. It was boring! She put a smile on her face and forced herself to say as though she meant it, “That’s nice, John. Very nice.”


John wanted to believe that Selena had liked it. To him it appeared even better now than it had when it had been surrounded by all those other paintings. It was a picture, he felt, that truly represented ‘him’.


Selina pulled her package towards her and began unwrapping it. “I don’t think you are going to like this much, John,” she said, glancing again towards the picture of the boat.


And there it was, Selina’s choice. A brightly coloured vibrant pattern that sucked you in, spun you round and spat you back out with a smile on your face. Well, that’s what Selina felt but she could tell by his expression that John felt very differently. He looked like it had sucked him in all right, but that it had then kept him spinning there to the point of nausea.


I knew you wouldn’t like it,” Selina said. “But this is ‘me’ and I want it to be a part of my home.”


Did I say I didn’t like it?” John asked, finally finding his voice. It’s just a bit......different to what I expected, that’s all. We share the flat so both our pictures will stay.”


But that moment in time marked a change in their relationship. John began to spend more and more of his spare time in studying for an accountancy degree. He would sit at his desk, study at his computer and listen through his headphones to his favourite classical tracks.


Selena went out more and more often. There were so many parties that were in some way connected to the boutique. She was showing such success with the store that there was talk of making her manager of a much larger nearby branch. Selena asked John to accompany her to the parties but after a month of refusals she stopped issuing the invitations to him.


When the lease expired, John and Selena moved, but they did not move together. John moved north, Selena, moved south; they both took their own pictures with them. And neither of them were ever heard to say that ‘opposites attract’ again.

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