His bag was packed and stashed inside the hallway cupboard.

Standing by the bed, he watched her sleep.  He did love her… just not enough.

Not enough to compete with the constant feeling of being stifled, trapped and robbed of his freedom.  Feelings that were just too strong.

It was better this way.  No lingering, sad goodbyes.  He couldn’t bear to witness the pain in her eyes.  The pain he’d seen in others… too many times.  Those he’d loved and left.

When that midnight train called, he always answered.

Maybe one day its call would go unheeded.  But not tonight.

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
1 month ago

Linda, this is so sad. I hope your protagonist would find the one person who would make him stay. This sounds like a great start to a longer story!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
1 month ago

A well written story, Linda but, unlike Marianna, I feel so sorry for the girl he’s leaving behind. She may feel that she has the perfect man, but to wake up and find he’s done a flit in the night, well, I can’t imagine anything more selfish. Perhaps if you do extend it, one of his conquests wakes up as he’s leaving, follows him to the station and shoves him under that train 😂

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
Reply to  Linda Rock
1 month ago

😂 I’m very much for woman power at the moment! I have no problem with them leaving if they’re not happy, but I feel so sorry for the woman who wakes up to find herself alone! I think she’ll feel very let down not to be told to her face. It must be because I was the one who had to pick up the pieces after it happened to someone close to me when I was thirteen!

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Allan Neil
Allan Neil(@allan-neil)
1 month ago

Lovely emotional story, Linda. It immediately reminded me of the Matt Munro ballad, ‘Softly, as I leave you.’ Pushed me to the teary border! Had to read it a couple of times more. First class work!

Allan Neil
Allan Neil(@allan-neil)
Reply to  Linda Rock
1 month ago

For those who don’t know the song..
Softly, I will leave you softly
For my heart would break if you should wake and see me go
So I leave you softly, long before you miss me
Long before your arms can beg me stay
For one more hour
Or one more day
After all the years, I can’t bear the tears to fall
So softly as I leave you there

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Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
Reply to  Allan Neil
1 month ago

An emotional song, Allan. What year was it sung? I’ve never come across it before.

Allan Neil
Allan Neil(@allan-neil)
Reply to  Thompson Emate
1 month ago

Hi Thompson. 1962 was the year this song came out. Matt Monro had a very difficult life, sometimes, so the emotions in many of his songs came from deep within.

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
1 month ago

The protagonist is rather fickle and selfish in his collection of love them and leave them. Good story, Linda.

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Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
Reply to  Linda Rock
1 month ago

Hmmm.

Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
1 month ago

Linda, this is an interesting one and emotional also. Why did he always leave? Is there anything about him that he is trying to enshroud? It seems there’s something dark about him.

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Juma
Juma(@juma)
Reply to  Linda Rock
1 month ago

I don’t think you failed at all, Linda. You tried to portray the man in a favorable, or at least understandable light – I got that. But I think too many of us women have been on the receiving end of similar experiences to be objective. Times are changing now, and women can also leave without saying good-bye! So now everyone can share in these terrible feelings of being left behind.  😊 

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

Oh! That is a too emotional read, Linda. Honestly, I have a deep sigh when I reach the last sentence of your story. Like Carrie, I also feel sorry for the girl he left behind but as I read your reply to Carrie I also understand his reason. Very well-written, Linda. I love it. 

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Linda Rock
1 month ago

You are most welcome, Linda.

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Emily O'Leary
Emily O'Leary(@emily-oleary)
1 month ago

Very emotional story Linda! I think the fact he’s left behind a string of women this way is a definite indicator that he’s suffering his own kind of trauma. I hope the woman he left behind understands his reasons, and the way he left. Perhaps she finds a letter he left behind — something to free her of any feelings of guilt she might feel for his leaving.

Preston Randall
Preston Randall(@preston-randall)
Reply to  Linda Rock
1 month ago

As others have said, perhaps a measure of success here is the amount of discussion this story is generating. I too thought it was another well-constructed and emotional piece (as are all of your stories, it appears!). I also thought about how you might have reinforced some sympathy for your main character (as in leaving a letter). But how about if she had only been pretending to sleep?  🤔 

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Preston Randall
Preston Randall(@preston-randall)
Reply to  Linda Rock
1 month ago

Linda, I was sad to read that some of the comments have left you feeling low, as everyone here recognizes the excellence of your writing and this is no exception. I think we all interpret stories based on our own knowledge and experiences, and I don’t believe there is any “right” or “wrong” here, just different viewpoints. I also think the very nature of Flash Fiction leaves even more room for different interpretations, as the extreme word limit allows little room for characterization and/or background.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 month ago

I agree with Juma, Linda. A good story triggers different reactions and responses, and this definitely is a very good story!
My take on it is that you are describing a man who has problems with receiving love because he isn’t used to it and doesn’t feel worthy of it.
On the surface, he thinks that the problem is that this woman (and the other ones he has left behind) isn’t the right one for him, and that’s why he feels suffocated, but the real, hidden problem is that he is incapable of loving and accepting himself. That is the trauma that Emily also sees.
So, its tragic for both persons in the story, maybe mostly for him since he has to repeat this behavior until he sees what the problem is and start dealing with it.
Congratulations, Linda, to an excellent story!

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