Flash fiction – 497 words
10 times I won and 1 time I didn't
Congratulations, you said, pressing your warm hand onto my hunched-over back. Breathing hard, face glistening with sweat, I looked up and saw an angel with a sunlight aura. I beat you but you were happy for me.
From the moment we met, we competed. Life events became a contest between us. We were inseparable…until we weren’t.
Congratulations, you said, lugging box after crumpled box of my meagre belongings up the narrow stairs to my tiny new home. As you left, I saw the bruises you tried so hard to cover. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, paying for dinner with shaking hands, celebrating my new job. You had no job but you paid anyway, knowing you wouldn’t eat again for days. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, hugging me hard at the altar for slightly too long. A string of failed romances for you couldn’t shake your happiness for me. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, holding my son tight, as if he was your own. You yearned for your own child, but he never arrived, so you rejoiced in mine. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, peering into each room in my fancy new home in the suburbs. You were thin and you wore long sleeves, even though it was summer. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, watching my son fling his cap into the air. Your own child would never graduate but your dark-rimmed eyes shed happy tears for me and mine. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, standing next to me as we watched my husband drive away for the very last time. You knew that the fists would still be there for you, but you always went home. You didn’t dare not. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, sitting across the table from me on my first day of retirement. You stooped as you stood and shuffled off to your menial job knowing you would be working forever. I won but I said nothing.
Congratulations, you said, helping me, once again, move my possessions. My new home in the retirement village was still bigger than any you’d ever known. You never experienced a sense of community, only isolation. I won but I said nothing.
I forget how many times you smiled and congratulated me on my wins. Your aura slowly faded and you somehow become smaller and more haunted, but you still managed to smile and be happy for me.
You won this one but I wish you hadn’t. As the only witness to this overwhelming win of yours, I may not be smiling but I am happy for you.
Congratulations, I whisper, watching you lowered into the cold, cold ground. The pounding of the rain mimics your life.
I have so much to say but I say nothing, except congratulations.
Congratulations, there are no more contests. How do I live now?