A note from The Storyside: Before we officially launch our blog, The Storyside would like to take a moment to thank you for your support. The interest in our little corner of the web and what we’ve been doing has been amazing so far, and with our second anthology out, we’re excited to bring you more great fiction just in time for the holiday season. That’s not all, of course! You may have noticed that our motto is “Reading. Writing. Redefined.” So what the heck does that mean? It means that our focus is on entertaining readers like you, so one of the many things you’ll find at The Storyside are free short stories and flash fiction intended to satisfy your reading needs, in addition to great new titles. Since many readers are also writers, it means that we’ll be posting on a variety of topics pertaining to the literary world, as well as and our own personal experiences, good, bad, ugly, and otherwise. How are we redefining things? We’re not hampered by big publishing contracts or glacial timelines, and because we’re dedicated professionals, we can bring quality fiction to you, when and how you want to read it.
A lot of our work will be available for free download, in case you’ve only got a moment to stop by and want to take us with you. In fact, if you subscribe to our newsletter, you’ll get a free copy of our first anthology, Insanity Tales, absolutely free. We’ll never share your information or send spam. Ever. We just don’t think that’s cool.
Our blog schedule will be Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward, so please stop by often to check us out, comment, and share The Storyside with your friends and family. In the meantime, we may as well get started, so without further ado, The Storyside is proud to present The Visit by Rob Smales.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to entertain you!
“These visits are hard. I always feel like there’s nothing to say, nothing to tell you, then once it’s done I think of all kinds of things.” Amy stood on the short, green grass, the shadow of the headstone forming a dark line before her feet, sharp in the noonday sun. She squinted in the bright light, looking at the other headstones lined up like soldiers, row upon row stretching all the way to the road almost a half-mile away.
“So many things, stuff I think of each day, that I wish I told you before it was too late. So much the two of us are going to miss out on.”
The breeze lifted a strand of her blond hair, stretching it across her face, tickling her cheek. She poked it behind her ear, then wiped her eye. Her finger came away wet with the tear she had been trying hard to ignore.
“I guess . . . I . . . I wanted you to see me graduate college. It seems silly now, but I know that would have made you proud enough to burst. And my wedding. I wanted so much for you to see me get married, if only so I could have that moment where I brought him home and introduced him to you.”
She smiled, but her voice still broke as she said, “That would have been my time to burst with pride, saying ’Whatshisname, this . . . this is my mom.’”
Her eyes were leaking, and she wiped at them absently. Her throat seemed to have closed to a pinhole. It was hard to breathe, never mind speak, but she forced the words through the constriction, more of a rasping whisper than an actual voice.
“And now you can’t even hear me say I love you.”
She had tried to fight it, but when the crying came she gave herself over to it, with the gushing, nose-wiping sobs some women use when they know they are alone, and no one will see. They shook her, wracked her slight frame, and she took two steps away from the grave, facing out at those soldiers again, thinking of all the visits and all the sorrow they implied.
When the worst of the crying had passed, and she was no more than leaky and sniffling, she turned back to the headstone. The flowers that lay before it caught her eye, a splash of bright color. She smiled.
“At least the flowers are pretty, right?”
But her mother, unaware, turned and walked away. She held a tissue to her face, and her shoulders shook. Amy watched her go until the car drove away, then turned and sat on the ground next to the flowers she had so admired. She rested her back against her headstone and settled in to wait for the next visit.
Rob Smales is the author of Dead of Winter, winner of the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014. His short stories have been published in two dozen anthologies and magazines. Most recently, his story “A Night at the Show” received an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s list of the Best Horror of 2014, and was also nominated as best short story by the eLiterary Festival of Words.
His next work, a story collection titled Echoes of Darkness, is scheduled for release in early 2016, from Books & Boos Press.
For more about Rob, including links to his published works, upcoming events, and a series of very short—but free—stories, please visit him at www.RobSmales.com.