The Envelope – Amazing Objects #0.5
Writing short stories is often more difficult than writing longer and more complex works. With short stories, in fact, you need to accomplish the same purposes with far fewer words and time. You need to capture the reader’s attention, bring her into your world, give her significant moments so she can get to know your characters, and propel the plot forward. All in a restricted span of pages.
Despite the challenge, many writers start with short stories, thinking they are easier to complete than a full-length novel. They may be easier to complete, but harder to do the right way.
When I was young and naïve, I was among those who believed short stories were easy. And I started writing and publishing them. This is the first which escaped my drawer. I wrote it for a contest about smoke, some time before I started Secrets of a Handbag – Amazing Objects #1. Even then I enjoyed using sentient objects, and this was a first experiment in that field. This story may be a prequel of the world of Secrets of a Handbag.
I hope you’ll enjoy it!
The Envelope — Amazing Objects #0.5
He was sitting on the sofa, elbows resting on his knees, hands trifling with a package of cigarettes. He was staring at the cardboard box as if his whole life was depending on it. He opened the package executing a silent order of his mind and pulled out a cigarette, grabbed a match and lighted it. As soon as he inhaled the first lungful, the Smoke burst out from the Cigarette.
“Good afternoon!” The Cigarette greeted her old friend, the Smoke, who was spreading in the sitting room.
The Smoke rose in little spirals. “Good afternoon. It’s been a long time, isn’t it? I haven’t been around here lately.”
“Yep,” said the Cigarette. “So… what’s up? What’s going on?”
The Smoke’s answer sounded careless. “Nothing new. I spread around, I stagnate. Everything as usual. But tell me, didn’t our friend here stop smoking?”
The Cigarette, squeezed between the man’s lips, confirmed. “Yes, months ago.”
The Smoke thickened in a puff, an air of sadness around him. “He was such a disappointment. I was sure he would have always been a loyal fellow to our set. I spent so much time clinging to his curtains when he was at University.”
The Cigarette would have frowned, had she had a face. “I know, it’s always sad when it happens. We have high expectations of our friends, but then it’s the same old story. It was because of his wife.”
“Oh, yes. She got pregnant, and he betrayed us. She asked him to choose, and he chose her.”
The Cigarette burned brighter, a grimace visible in her embers. The man lowered her towards the ashtray and shook her top. “I say! He could have kept spending time with us, smoking outside for instance. This place has balconies.”
The Smoke thickened in an annoyed puff. “You know what’s the problem. She doesn’t smoke.”
“Ah, non-smokers. They can’t possibly understand.”
“But what I don’t understand is why did he start again? Look at his face, something is amiss. He doesn’t look good.”
The Cigarette studied the man. “He has bags under his eyes. I wonder what’s the matter.”
Just then He raised from the sofa, walked around the coffee table and made for the window.
“Damn!” the Smoke whispered. The man opened the window and whirled his arms about to air the room. But that wasn’t enough. The Smoke had a long-standing experience and knew all the tricks. He sneaked between the folds of the curtains, stuck to the wallpaper and clung strongly to the sofa cover. The Cigarette burnt mischievously. “Something tells me She is coming.”
After a few moments, a key turning in the lock broke the silence. A click, another click and She was in the room. Standing on the doorstep, She smelt the air.
He didn’t answer, let the Cigarette half smoked on the ashtray and stood in front of her. “You told me you have something to explain. So?”
“Things are getting nasty around here, uh?” The Cigarette was wearing out on the ashtray.
The Smoke wafted towards the window. “I know, I’m sorry. But I can’t stand menthol.”
“I didn’t mean you, I meant those two. They used to be all over each other all the time. And now this?”
She spoke again. “It’s about the baby.”
“What’s the matter? Is he ok? Are you ill?” He moved forward, reaching out towards her protruding belly but stopped short a few inches before touching her.
“No, nothing like that.” She shook her head, looking at her feet. “It’s just—”
The Cigarette knew her time was almost up, but she was itching to know. “She is hesitating! Why is she hesitating?”
The woman took a deep breath, closed her eyes, then glanced at him. “I’m not sure if you’re the father.”
“Oh, damn! That’s a terrible blow!” exclaimed the Smoke.
The Cigarette shrieked, “I can’t believe it!”
She took another deep breath and ignored the astonished look on his face. The man looked on the verge of shattering into pieces. “I had the paternity test done. These are the results,” she said lifting a yellow envelope, “but I don’t have the nerve to open it. Care to do it with me?”
He was the image of shock. Eyes wide, mouth shut in a thin line. He didn’t even look angry, just astonished. He eyed her, nodded once and reached out to take the envelope. Inch by inch, he slid his finger beneath the edge and pulled the sheets out.
Just then the Cigarette extinguished, cursing herself for not being able to last a little longer, and a sudden gust of wind swept away the last traces of the Smoke.
I hope you enjoyed this piece of writing! Let me know what you think in the comments!