• Laura Grace Simpkins

Flushed

Updated: Nov 11

a queer flash fiction short story exploring how mental health can affect a budding romance.

Flushed


You approached me after ecstatic dance and you asked for my number. I was convinced it was a friendly number: I had been wrong before about how desirable women found me. All I can remember of you that night is that you were shorter than me, you were wearing black and you had rosy cheeks.


We began texting a little. After a few days or so you texted saying, ‘Do you mind if I call you later?’ Quite a large part of me was sceptical.


‘Is she crazy?’ I thought to myself. My last attempt at dating had ended in disaster; psychological abuse had forced me to do something I hadn't wanted to do. I’d ghosted her.

I picked up my phone and spoke to you from my favourite haunt: the graveyard opposite my parents’ house. We spoke for over an hour and then we stopped, only because I had to go back for dinner, as if I were a child.


‘I wanted to say something,’ you said, ‘but I don’t want to if you’re in a rush.’


‘What is it?’ I said, staring up at the stars through the branches of the tree I was sitting under.


‘Just that, at ecstatic dancing, I found you attractive and I thought that we had a good connection. I don’t know if you thought it too?'


I smiled to myself and then I said that I agreed with you.


I put my phone down and left the graveyard. I was warm and full of spirits.


We met up the week after, in a city between your house and the house of my parents. We hung out together the whole day and then in the evening you suggested we go ecstatic dancing. I was tired but I agreed, hiding how tired I was. We climbed a hill and arrived at the church. I wasn’t sure whether to dance with you or not—so I didn’t—and I waited for you to come to me.


I can just about remember your black t-shirt and your grey leggings. What I remember more clearly is your smile and your warm brown skin and your blushing cheeks and just how open and happy you looked. Ecstatic dance is inherently freeing, but you didn’t appear liberated or out-of-body exactly. The glow was tighter to you, as if you were sweetly overheating in a woollen blanket. You made me happy, for the first time in a while. I was still getting over someone I had broken up with a year ago.


‘I had the best day ever,’ we said to each other at the end and we meant it.


We’ve had a few dates since and it’s been going well. But, this week, my usually absent period came. After a tidal wave of hormonal build-up, I am dealing with a flood of emotions. I’ve been feeling anxious and upset. It’s affected how I feel about us and it's affected how I feel about you.


About the author: Laura Grace Simpkins is a creative nonfiction writer. To see more of her creative and academic writing, click here


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