“How’s the missus?”
Matt frowns. “What missus?”
His colleague frowns right back. “Alisha, isn’t it? How is she?”
“No idea what you’re on about, Marie.”
Marie snorts. “Oh no, you haven’t had a falling out have you?”
Matt maintains his look of puzzlement. “What you on about? I don’t have a girlfriend. Been single for months.”
“Bollocks!” comes a call from the table beside them. “You went away to that posh hotel this weekend, didn’t you? I had it in mind that you might propose.”
Suddenly half the staff room is staring at Matt expectantly with half-smiles on their faces. Bating for gossip.
“Were you?” says Marie. “Did you?”
Matt scoffs. “No, I didn’t propose to my non-existent girlfriend.”
“You’ve been with her a year!” says someone else at the table, behind a mouthful of sandwich.
“She’s pretty, too,” adds another. “I looked her up on Facebook – you’re batting above there, mate.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend,” Matt insists with a laugh. “Haven’t for ages. You’re all mad.” He turns back to his mug of tea and concentrates hard on spooning in his sugar and stirring.
“You wouldn’t stop banging on about her last week,” says Marie. “What’s changed in a weekend?”
“Come on, mate. Spill.”
“If she’s dumped you it’s not the end of the world.”
“Yeah, we’ll only rag you about it for a couple of days.”
“We can take you out for drinks, cheer you up a bit.”
“There’s plenty more fish.”
Matt sighs, drops the teaspoon on the worktop and turns to face the room. His colleagues wait with baited breath.
“I made her up,” he says with a shrug. “Alright? I made it all up. Happy now?”
The room looks at him with amazement. He doesn’t give them time to respond; he collects his mug and walks out, back to the safety of his desk.
His chest aches, as though a vice is squeezing at his heart, and the pain is enough for him to wonder if he’ll just drop dead on the floor at any minute.
Better that they think I’m off my head, he thinks, than to know I’ve got a broken heart.
About Stories that Sing
Open Spotify (or music streaming platform of choice) and hit shuffle until you find a song you want to write about. This month was Eagles of Death Metal’s Heart On.