Whispers: A story by Brent Holmes

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Whispers: A story by Brent Holmes

"Whispers have always bothered me, words kept quiet to spare feelings, to hide intent..."

“She dyes it,” Sara grumbled.

“Well, obviously,” I said. No one actually has blue hair. My finger swung like a pendulum over her picture. She was cute. Why not?

“I mean, it looks terrible,” Kelci said.

“Well…” I started.

“I can’t believe men go so ape for that,” Kelci continued.

I looked up from my phone. A slender blonde played with her hair as a confident-looking man talked to her. She wore short-shorts that showed off a thigh gap and a low-cut shirt that framed prominent collar bones. I hoped she’d be ok.

I swiped right on my app.

“What a slut,” Sara jeered.

“Seriously,” Kelci added.

“Leave her alone,” I said.

“You think she looks cute too, huh?” Kelci chided.

“No, I don’t,” I mumbled.

#

Whispers have always bothered me, words kept quiet to spare feelings, to hide intent, but I had a way of finding the worst possible message in each hushed voice. Someone told me that no one cares as much about me as I think. That might be comforting if I could just believe it.

My distaste for the whispers didn’t go away when I came out. Now they felt more pointed.

#

The blue-haired girl and I matched.

“Coffee?” she had texted.

“That’d be nice,” I had responded. I detested coffee; I only drank it on dates. Whatever. I preferred it to “getting drinks.” I hated getting to know people when they were drunk, and I hated having sex with drunk people. I’m sure it’s ridiculous, but there’s a reassurance when you fuck, both of you sober. They say alcohol softens edges; I don’t want my edges softened.

#

Together whispers are like a river. They push people in the desired direction. They are softer, almost gentle if you put up no resistance. When I came out, they stopped being whispers. They were more like roars for a while. Now there is constant chatter, but I’m not sure what’s about me and what’s not. My mom used to tell me I shouldn’t care what other people think, but she also told me I needed to give boys another chance. We haven’t talked in months.

#

Pictures didn’t do justice to her hair. It was vibrant, blinding. Her eyebrows matched it, and for a fleeting second, I let myself think it was her natural color. She took me back to her place, and as we fucked, I grabbed at her hair, running my fingers through it, filling my hands with it, and flinging it up around her like an aura. I came quickly, which was rare for me; I didn’t usually come at all, not on a first date especially. She followed a few seconds later, and when she was done, she left to shower without a word.

As I lay in her residual warmth, I took a strand of her hair from her pillow and ran it through my fingers. It looked lighter on its own. It was blue all the way to the end, not a hint of roots. A dreamy sensation washed over me. But as I looked at the hair, eventually I saw past it to my fingers. Coating each of my nails was a hint of blue.

I sighed. Of course: no one actually has blue hair. But she does; does it matter if it’s dyed or if she’s really some queen of faeries or aliens or elves? Normal people live their lives without any fancy. Did they gain anything by always being right?

‘She dyes it.’

Such a cruel, biting comment.

The kind of whispered remark every girl hears bouncing around from time to time. I’m sure she hears them more. Or maybe they didn’t even bother in her case. Maybe she was so far from where the whispers tried to push her that the whispers were silenced or her ears had learned not to hear them.

The bathroom door was open, so I walked in and splashed water on my face. I took a breath. “I hate coffee,” I shouted over my shoulder.

“Then why’d you agree to get it?” she asked.

“I don’t know. It’s what people do.”

The water of her shower slammed against the porcelain of her tub.

“I don’t want to do what people do anymore.”

***

Brent Holmes lives to imagine, grasping at all the what-ifs that flitter through his mind and weaving them into stories. Brent’s work has appeared in Continue the Voice, Fumble, LKN Connect, and Active Muse and has been accepted to Night Picnic Press. Brent has a Ph.D. in mathematics.

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