Flash fiction: There were better days

Atop the sink and beneath the mirror sat a white plastic comb that had the emblem of a hostel in Strasbourg. They took a long-distance coach to see the famous Christmas market there for cheap. He remembered her paying the premium for the last-minute train tickets home, all in order to avoid long hours of motion sickness. More vividly was the memory of him chiding the girl for wasting money and insisting on taking the coach alone.

Plugged into a socket next to the sink was a second-hand hair clipper he received from a tenant who moved out of the shared flat the weekend before. Its violet back cover had become so weathered that the middle part started turning pink. She told him to get rid of it before it grew into a tsukumogami. Whatever that was supposed to mean, he laughed her off and kept it anyway.

In a sense, she was right. The old things he could not get rid of and the memories of these better days would haunt him forever.

It was far too late to throw them out. This day was the day she moved out.

He had not been told of it happening. He had finals the day after and she had intended to keep the affair quiet so as to let him study in peace. But, he found out anyway, and yet he could not bring himself to say goodbye. By the window sill, he stood, watching. Once again he was by himself, in his fourteen-meter-square prison, regretting his own cowardice for the second time in his life.

With her quiet departure, so ended another summer of his youth, autumn was afoot and winter was looming on the horizon…

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