wordwhacker: (NaNo 2008)
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Written for Prompt 167: Antapology over at [livejournal.com profile] tamingthemuse.

I had a weird week - was feeling really under the weather for a lot of it. Slept a lot, and cooked a lot, and generally have taken it easy otherwise. I started this story a few days ago and then couldn't decide what I wanted to do with it, so I gave myself a half-hour time limit tonight to finish it up, something like my 15 minute flash fiction (but, um, twice as long.) Next week I am putting my nose to the grindstone and finishing the first draft of the horror audio play, which will eat up a lot of my time. I may take the same approach with next week's short story. We'll see.

So Am I (flash, 711 words)

I'm sorry.

The words stood out naked in the email. No subject, no signature. Krista thought it was spam at first, but it's the subject lines in spam that make it famous. The email was from an address she didn't recognize - a gmail account under a generic noun surrounded by meaningless numbers that looked nice and made it blandly unique.

She checked when the message was sent - just a few minutes ago. Whoever had sent it was probably still at their computer, maybe even had some indication that she'd picked it up. Were they waiting for her to respond? Did they expect her to know who'd sent it?

The face that snapped into her mind with the starkness of the words, the one that she hoped or feared it had come from, was Björn's. It went through her like a shock, a sudden interruption to normalcy. When they'd first broken up this had happened so often that there were really no lulls. Now it happened less often and was more keen for it each time, even though the feelings it evoked were more vague; it was like the highs and lows of their relationship were distilled into a stab that went quickly in and out again.

I'm sorry.

Krista's hands hovered over the keyboard. She clenched and unclenched her fists, the pads of her fingers slightly moistened each time by the sweat that stood out on her palms. She wanted to know - every part of her sang at the prospect of finding out whether he had really done this, after six months and in such a strange way.

But she didn't want to talk to him again. She knew that much. Even if he really was sorry, even if he really understood what he'd put her through, she couldn't let him peek back into her life, even a little bit. It was her own now.

That was new, really - the feeling of owning her life. For months after he'd cut her off she felt traces of him in everything she did - traces of herself, rather, and her own thoughts about him. She found herself seeking his approval for strange things that he would have never known about or even cared, like how fast she could input customer files at work or how expertly she had handled an irate customer on the phones. Instead of feeling satisfied that she was doing a good job, she thought, "he would approve of this." And she didn't know how much was her own doing, and how much was his slow cultivation in her of this way of thinking. Making her need his approval. It worried her.

It was waning, now, and she hoped that it was more than just time away from him. She didn't like what those patterns revealed about her. She wanted to move past not only him, but her old self as well.

I'm sorry.

Her breath came more quickly; she sniffed and wiped at her nose, tried to come up with something else to do with her hands. Could she just walk away from this? It was hypnotizing in its mystery. She had never known Björn to apologize without having it carry something else - some statement of personal fault that quietly absolved him of actual guilt. He replied to his own apology before Krista could - controlled her response to it. He wrote his own antapology.

But it was in the open, now; it wasn't attached to him in any way. The noun in the email address, the numbers, meant nothing to Krista and she knew that they meant nothing to Björn. He was broadcasting without himself, without commenting on it, even enough to say who it came from. It lay there, in front of her, an apology with no "ifs" "ands" or "buts". For the first time it was all for her.

I'm sorry.

What about? Two words seemed like an pittance toward three years of a manic-depressive relationship, swinging constantly back and forth between overwrought perfection and her gut-wrenching inadequacies. Even if the words were genuine, she didn't know that he really knew it, really felt what he had done; and she wouldn't unless she acknowledged it, asked for more.

It was an illusion of agency.

I'm sorry.

She took a deep breath and deleted the note.

"So am I."


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March 2011

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