Flash Fiction Friday: the Better Late Than Never Edition

So, my first solo story, Under the Influence, introduced a character – a pretty club kid named Blue – who captured the imagination of many readers. Blue has a story. A fairly angst filled, traumatic story. He puts the “fucked” in “fucked up”. I work on it occasionally, when my head is in a suitably dark place, and someday I’ll knit all those blocks together with a (hopefully) coherent narrative, and Blue will get his HEA. In the meantime, here’s a bit of (completely unedited) flash fiction from his story. Enjoy…

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The room was dark, except for a small lamp with a red scarf draped over it which cast a bloody light over his hands. Tristan spent a lot of time in the dark on those nights he could afford a motel for the night. Or when the owner of whatever couch he was surfing on happened to leave him in an empty apartment or dorm room for the evening. The dark suited him. It hid his ugliness, and let the monsters out to breathe.

Sometimes the monsters *needed* out to breathe, or they’d swell in his chest until there was no room for his lungs, until there was no room for thought or breath, nothing except Tristan, crushed under the weight of his own inadequacies.

Tonight? The monsters were raging. Josh, beautiful, funny, human Xanax Josh, had rattled him. It really shouldn’t have surprised him when the man noticed his scars. After all, he was plugging Tristan into a machine that sucked his blood out, cleaned it, then pumped it back in, in a tense, humming near silence. He’d had plenty of time to study Tristan’s hands and arms while hooking up – and removing – the tangle of tubes from the temporary port set in (what part of) Tristan’s arm. No, what had been surprising – and disconcerting – was his reaction.

Cute Nurse Josh had examined the scars, from the pale, faint white ones to the pink, nearly raw ones, with a serious mouth and direct, solemn eyes.

“You need to stop doing that,” he’d said. Tristan had been surprised at his tone. There was no pity. There was also no condemnation. He’d sounded very matter of fact, which was why Tristan limited his response to a slight sneer and eye roll.

“Seriously,” Cute Josh continued. “Your immune system is compromised. The organs that pump out toxins are struggling. If nothing else, you need to stop until you’re done with dialysis and given a clean bill of health.” He shook his head, and those warm brown eyes met his. “Tristan. It’s not okay to hurt yourself. You’re smart enough to know that. But you knowing and my lecturing won’t stop you. Just…” He sighed. “Just try to keep it locked down until it can’t do anything worse than screw up this perfect skin, and cause a bit of blood loss.”

Tristan didn’t answer aloud. He couldn’t. Sometime after Cute Josh had started talking, all the spit in Tristan’s mouth had dried up, and his voice had withered to nothing. He forced a sharp nod, hoping Josh would believe him, but already knowing it was a promise he was going to break. Probably sooner rather than later.

Now Tristan did his own examination of the scars. There were two neat rows on each arm, just below the elbow, eight raised lines in each. A pattern identical to the ones on each of his inner thighs. They were hideous. They were transcendent. He despised them almost as much as he revered them.

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