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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story about a bunch of young me living abroad and the artistic rivalry between them. One is successful and has a collection of short stories published. But how will his friends react?

Published 31/01/2021

As was tradition whenever one of us had success our group would meet up to celebrate. I’d hit the bigtime when a collection of my short stories was accepted for publication. I was without doubt over the moon. I had a brief argument with Maggie about meeting the guys. Initially she wasn’t please at being excluded but later begrudgingly accepted my leaving. I promised to make it up to her later.

I caught the metro and from there would have a five-minute walk to the pub. It could be an edgy meeting and one which could terribly wrong. I guessed how the guys would react. Each would be different.

Ray, the eldest, would be genuinely happy. He’d seen and done it all. He was a great writer much more fluent and articulate than me. But bad luck, bad timing and becoming slightly disillusioned had held it back.

Mark would tell me straight to my face he was jealous. I could imagine him in the pub sour faced and despondent wondering why it wasn’t him. In fairness he worked harder than anyone. He’d be in an awful funk for a week or a fortnight or a month then he’d say he was delighted I’d got the contract and slap me vigorously on the back.

But it was Nick that worried me. Nick who didn’t care who he fucked over. Nick would tell me how delighted he was and spit fire behind my back. He would bitch about me, demean and deride my writing. Perhaps he was even doing it now. No one was permitted to outshine Nick, we all had to know our place.

Moments later I entered the pub. The buys were assembled there and it turned out much as I’d imagined it would. Ray was delighted. Mark gave me a grudging congratulations. While Nick threw his arms around me. “Where’s the knife?” I almost asked him.

Throughout the night Mark remained sullen only perking up when we discussed football. He was going through a bad patch with his girlfriend and the thoughts of a possible breakup filled him with dread.

Still he was the one who questioned me most about the process of getting published. Though he knew well enough I suspected he was just making conversation. We discussed agents, publishers, pitfalls and advantages. Even though his heart wasn’t really in it I was able to hold a conversation with Mark.

After listening to our discussion Nick, of course, steered the conversation round to his own successes. Some editor in a magazine liked a story he wrote. “There was a possibility it would be published in the next issue,” he said.

We nodded sagely.

The night passed slowly. It was a Sunday night and not too many people were around. There was a match on tv and at one point Mark shouted: “That was a good goal.” I smiled.

Ray talked about gigs he’d on. “One coming up on Wednesday in The Oriel,” he said, “A four week residency.”

We were delighted for him The Oriel was a good venue and more importantly paid promptly and well. Ray mentioned a few other places  and we made a point to organise a night our soon and support him.

About 11 o’clock Nick headed off. I was amazed he stayed this long. It must have killed him to sit in my shadow for even two hours. “Say hello to Maggie,” he said and he ran out the door. I thought I saw Mark and Ray exchange glances but said nothing.

We finished our drinks then left.

When Mark said he was delighted for me but jealous I nearly burst out laughing. I could almost imagine him asking Ray why it wasn’t him. The three of us entered the station together though parted at the ticket booth. We were going in different directions. Me north, the lads south.

My train pulled in first and I jumped on board and sat down. I looked over at the platform opposite but the guys were looking at their phones. Then the announcement came on for passengers to stand back and the doors closed and the train moved out of the station and I lost sight of my friends.  

 

 

 


Submitted: January 31, 2021

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