Volume 2 Issue 3

Submerged Vanity

Henry Bladon

Shit. My head feels like the inside of a cement mixer. I’m already on my third jug of water. And now I have to read this commentary in all the papers.

I knew I shouldn’t have listened.

‘Come to the party, Luke’ they said. ‘It’ll be fun.’ ‘Fuck that,’ I said. ‘I hate awards ceremonies. All you see is lots of backslapping and self-congratulation. No way.’ But, rather like a bunch of whining school kids, they insisted and pleaded. ‘You deserve it, Luke. ‘ ‘It’s a great evening.’ And the plaintiff: ‘We’d love to see you, Luke.’ Then there were the exhortations from my agent and publisher. ‘Do come, we’re so proud of you.’ They always say that.

So I got nominated for another literary prize, so what? I’ve lost count of them over the years. Anyway, I just want to be with Lester. I mean; you don’t get stupid sycophantic nonsense from a dog. They love you for who you are and not what you are.

I should have thrown the invite away, but it was probably submerged vanity that made me prop it on the mantel. As the days passed, I looked at the card, with its fancy writing and the gilt edging. During the day, from my position on the couch, those edges gave off a sparkling, almost kaleidoscopic shine as the sunlight reached into the room. Eventually, in a moment of ridiculous conceit, I capitulated.

The night started well enough: champagne followed by a nice meal and a few glasses of wine. The tux was a little uncomfortable, but I hadn’t worn it in so long and I guess a few extra pounds had appeared here and there. Memories of the evening fade after that.

Ugh. I need more water.

I can’t deny what happened, though. Not now. A picture tells a thousand words. There’s no way I can deny that I drank too much. I can’t dispute the fact that I climbed onto the table and did a silly dance. There it is in black and white, accompanied by full colour photos. Oh hell.

I knew I should have listened. Especially when my agent put his hand on my shoulder and offered to get me a taxi.

They’ll forget about it in time. They always do, and at least I’ve put the award to a useful purpose. It’s sitting on the floor propping my office door open while I’m writing so that Lester can get in without barking.


Bio:

Henry Bladon is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Somerset in the UK. He has degrees in psychology and mental health policy and a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing. His work can be seen in Entropy, FridayFlashFiction, 50WordStories, thedrabble, The Ekphrastic Review, Alien Buddha Magazine and, Spillwords Press, among other places. He also facilitates writing support groups for people with mental health issues.

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