The Secret- a short story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story about a man, a woman, and a secret that could possibly have devastating repercussions

Approx 1150 words


Danny finished brushing his teeth, his head still jarring from the noise of the electric toothbrush.  He looked in the mirror, and saw someone who, on the whole, looked like him, but about 15 years from now.  His eyes had big black circles, the whites were bloodshot, his skin looked sallow and worn.  His stomach pulled another summersault.

He sighed, “What did you expect?”, and opened the bathroom cabinet, reaching for the Aspirin.  Caroline had been tidying up again, the plastic beaker was missing from the vanity unit.  Crunching the tablets between his teeth in disgust he ran the cold water tap, bending down to scoop the water into his mouth with his hand.

He ran his hands over his face, and decided that he could give shaving a miss, just this once.  The razor would only antagonise his headache even more.  Not a hangover, he reasoned, you can’t have a hangover from three pints, could you?  He’d not been a big drinker, and was surprised to hear himself accepting Mark’s request for his company last night. 

Mark- bad mistake.  They’d not been that close, they had attended the same school but had never been friends. They still lived in the town, and bumped into each other now and again. Mark was in a bad place right now, he was struggling to come to terms with the end of his marriage, Danny’s heart had skipped a beat when he’d called him yesterday.

“I just need to talk”, Mark had said, “Meet me in the Red Lion at seven”.

And that had been it- no discussion.  Danny had gone, prepared for the worst, but Mark really did just talk, about everything and nothing.  Pint after pint had been consumed, Danny substituting every other one for a shandy, or low alcohol lager.  That stuff was hideous.  If he ever found himself in a similar situation, he’d stick to the real thing and suffer the consequences. He knew that wasn’t true, had seen the result of drinking to extreme. But he’d stayed more or less sober, scared in case his tongue worked itself loose and said something he might have regretted.  Mark had become more and more morose and bitter with each drink.

So, for close on four hours, Mark had droned on about his life, from being close to tears to telling Danny that ‘the bitch’ leaving him was the best thing that had happened to him.  Danny would offer words of commiseration, or encouragement, as the mood dictated. Cigarette followed cigarette, Danny wincing visibly each time Mark wielded the brass lighter.  Several times Mark had asked Danny if he’d seen her around; another round was hastily purchased.  When the barman called time, Mark had invited Danny back to finish a bottle of scotch, Danny offered his thanks but used the excuse of an early morning meeting to decline, after much insistence from Mark.

Danny turned on the taps to the shower, waiting while the boiler kicked on and heated the water.  The bathroom floor was cold, and he hopped from one foot to another, shivering.  “Grow some, will you?” he chastised himself. Finally, the water was up to temperature, and he pulled back the curtain and stepped up into the bath.

The water pounded on his head, and his stomach gurgled.  He reached for the shower gel, lathered his hands and began to scrub the grime and smell of last night from him.  He scrubbed at his hair, his brain felt like a jelly – not quite set. “I’ll have to get the bus to work”, he thought, “I must be over the limit”.  He stood and let the water wash over him, feeling slightly better.  He decided to be brave, taking a deep breath he shut the hot tap off, the cold water hitting his body like needles.  He gasped, reaching quickly for the cold tap and turning it off.  His eyes blinked blearily, but slightly more alert than before.

He pulled back the curtain and reached for the towel hanging on the rear of the door, running his free hand flat over his head, dispelling as much water as possible.  He rubbed himself more or less dry with the towel, then wrapped and tied it around his waist.

He stood with his hands on the vanity unit, leaning forward.  Wiping the mist from the mirror, he studied his face once again.  Still looked like crap, but a little better.  There was a knock at the bathroom door.

“You ok?” Caroline pushed open the door.

“I think so.  I’m not dead, and I’ve not been sick, so I reckon I’ll survive”.  Danny turned, “Sorry, did I wake you?”

“I heard a girly shriek from the shower so thought I’d investigate in case you’d smuggled a barmaid back last night”, Caroline smiled.

“Ah, that was me being brave. Or foolish. Cold shower remedy.”

Caroline stepped forward and hugged him.  He nestled his head in her hair.  She always smelt so good in the mornings, warm and sleepy.  He was thinking about taking her back to bed, forgetting about work.  Perhaps he was thinking about it too much. He felt himself stirring.

Caroline took a step back, “No sign of brewer’s droop, I see?  So much for your cold shower.”

Danny laughed, “We can’t help it if we find you so attractive”.

She smiled, “Keep that thought in mind and we’ll see if you’re both up for it later.  You still smell of beer.  Seeing as I’m up, I’ll make you some breakfast”.

They dressed in silence.  Danny’s phone buzzed, a message from Mark, ‘Sorry if I went on a bit last night.  Hope your head isn’t as bad as mine. Thanks for listening’.  Danny held the phone out for Caroline to read.

“He still has no idea?” she said, her eyes on Danny’s face.

“No, he speculated lots on where you might have gone.  Hell and Torbay were just two of the options. I thought he knew yesterday, when he called me.  I thought if I refused to go it would have confirmed his suspicions.”  Danny raised his hand, slowly, to her face, running his fingers lightly across her cheek, the scar tissue around her left eye and cheekbone beginning to fade. 

Caroline closed her fingers around Danny’s hand. “Despite what’s he’s done, he needs to know. The restraining order was a warning.  It’s just bravado, all this talk. If he didn’t drink so much...”

“Don’t  make excuses for him”, Danny said gently, “he was a bully at school, if it wasn’t you it would be some other poor girl. You had a lucky escape.  I’m just sorry it took me so long to find you”. He hugged her to him, an embrace that they both wished would last forever.

Caroline kissed him, her eyes wet.  She had felt a huge weight fall from her shoulders the moment they had met.

 “My hero” she said, and meant it.


Submitted: April 13, 2012

© Copyright 2021 sanchez88. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



I love the twist in this tale.
I also like the detail in your writing.
I enjoyed this.

Sun, May 6th, 2012 4:59pm


Thank you, D, that means a lot :)

Sun, May 6th, 2012 5:19pm


Thank you, D, that means a lot :)

Sun, May 6th, 2012 5:19pm


Loved it! Well written... the lead would be interesting to read too *grins*

Thu, November 8th, 2012 9:28am

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