Short Fiction: Strings

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He always said their marriage could withstand anything. But, as his husband’s body careened onto the rug and his acoustic guitar took on a new coat of paint, he thought couple’s counseling probably wouldn’t cut it this time.


The sleepy footsteps of Graham’s son stumbled towards the entertaining room. His long dressing gown kept getting caught beneath his feet as he came to investigate the noise. Graham’s shock turned to panic as he realised what his husband made him do. He set aside the murder instrument, blood facing upward, and stood blocking the open door to greet his son. Graham knew Anthony was a crier and the screeches of an eight-year-old at three in the morning would near enough alert the whole city. Graham’s thoughts were heartless that way but he had to think fast. Approaching the archway, Anthony’s bed-wear betrayed him and Graham scooped him up before he hit the floor; turning him away from the crime scene.

“And where are we going, sport?” Graham questioned in a mock-cheery voice.

“I heard a noise.” Anthony responded, groggy and confused.

The sound of his parents arguing late into the night wasn’t exactly a new occurrence for young Anthony but it never made bedtime any less frightening. Occasionally the sound of smashing glass or low thumps of fists against drywall would startle him awake but this sound was different and the silence that followed scared him the most.

“Seb isn’t feeling too well, son. He knocked some things over and fell down, okay? You know how loud Daddy’s guitars can be don’t you? Do you remember? Remember when you went in and almost broke one of Daddy’s guitars?”

Anthony didn’t like when Daddy got like this, his face got nasty and resembled one of the baddies from his picture book. One time, a couple months ago, he asked Graham to read him that book as a bedtime story. As that character’s arrival came, so too did an innocent comparison at his father’s expense. The innocent words of a child, his own child, brought anger to Graham’s eyes and that put an end to their nightly bedtime routine.

Whether it be the adrenaline or genuine anger that he had almost been caught, Graham’s incessant questioning shut his son up. I suppose it’s difficult to talk when you’re holding back tears.

With a rushed kiss to the forehead and thoroughly un-tucked sheets, Graham put his son to bed and readied himself to clean up his husband’s mess. Oops, ex-husband.

Published by Owen Corkin

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