As Raymond Carver WouldMature

Morning, he said as he leant against the small kitchens doorframe. She smiled shyly at him, blushing crimson. Standing by the one window, she turned back to the stove on which a pan was sizzling gently. Light illuminating her face, he sat down at the tiny blue table in the middle of the room to watch her calmly. Turning to face him, she noticed him staring.

What? she asked, frowning. The smile still graced the sides of her lips and she sat opposite him, the sizzling pan forgotten for now.

You can't love me. You know that, right? he said carefully, before adding: Nor I you.

Suddenly the pan's dull spitting was the only noise. It was deafening. She almost recoiled in shock.

I know, she said while wrapping her arms about her body, only clothed in a pink dressing gown, feeling decidedly naked in front of him. She blushed intensely, humiliated, which didn't go unnoticed. She explained, It would be wrong if I felt that way about you.

Last night was a mistake, he said definitely, dark eyes not leaving hers.

She repeated her line from before and those two words struck him like a hammer. Something in him broke, as if elastic had been wrapped around him again and again, and finally snapped as he shouted at the young girl. He stood.

We are related. You are my niece and you can never be anything more. Understand me? We fucked last night and it's your fault. I'm nearly ten years older than you and you think you're in love with me? You don't know what love is. I'm just the first person who gave you the attention you obviously want. His breath came in fast pants. She sniffed quietly.

After all you've done for me, I didn't want it to go like this, her voice shook as she spoke. Waving a hand dismissively, he turned away from her.

I never wanted you here. Why would I? You're only here because your mother dumped you here, he said half-heartedly.

The pan was getting angry, oil spitting over the amber floor tiles, so she got up to turn the stove off. As she did so, he noticed her shaking hands and felt awful. He felt dirty.

I'm sorry, he started but found he had no words to follow.

Don't be, it's fi-

No, it's not fine, he interrupted, running a hand across his face; But I don't know how to fix it.

She moved closer to him, around the table so it was not obstructing each other. Maybe we don't. Maybe I just leave or something. We don't ever have to talk about this again, she gave a sad smile.

I don't want you to leave. I know I should, I don't though, he said while looking at the floor, eyebrows pulled together.

I won't leave if you don't want me to. I'll stay always if that's what you want, she grinned cautiously, genuinely and he returned it.


(The briefing for this piece was to write a domestic dispute inspired by Raymond Carver, like I've used here (or more like 'like I haven't used here') Carver doesn't use speech marks.)

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