Loveless: Create a character around this sentence: Nobody has ever loved me as much I have loved them. Do not use this sentence in the fragment of fiction you write. Resist the temptation this exercise offers for a completely self-indulgent character. Of course, some self-indulgence will be fun with this character. But don’t write from inside your own wounded sense of the world. 500 words.
“…Then there was Emma. We actually dated for a while, well about a week. We broke up; well she broke up with me. Apparently she wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment with someone.” He stared wistfully into the middle distance, lost in memories.
Sarah simply sat in silence, watching him, trying to think of a way to segway away from ex-girlfriends and former crushes. She smiled and opened her mouth, on the cusp of speaking–
“Actually there’s a girl at Uni who I really like.” His face was intent and excited. Suddenly his features dropped and his smile evaporated. “She started seeing someone else though.” Disappointment painted his face. Sarah wanted to say something, wanted to reach over and touch him on the shoulder, selflessly telling him something cliché like she was sure there was someone out there for him, but his phone rang.
Awkwardly he squeezed it out of his far-too-tight jeans and looked at the display. “Sorry I need to take this; it’s my brother”
“Hi Dave!” he called jovially down his phone. “No, I’m just out with some friends”
Sarah watched him talking quickly, leaning forward, perched on the edge of his seat. It was just the two of them, sitting in the mostly empty pub. She didn’t bother to listen to the conversation; she just watched his cute face contort in speech and consideration. It was alive with expression. His scruffy brown hair jumped around as he spoke, slapping his forehead and brushing his ears.
She’d known Matt since they were both crawling on hands and knees. They’d grown up together. This was the first time she’d seen him in almost ten years – her parents had moved away just before she started secondary school.
The phone call ended. She looked at him quizzically.
“That was my brother. He wants me to go and fix his laptop – it’s got another virus.”
“Do you need to go?” she reached for her handbag, holding her breath.
“No, I’m gonna go round tomorrow.”
“Is he paying you for helping him out?” She smiled and let out her breath in relief.
Matt shook his head. “He’s family; I couldn’t take money off him. It won’t take long anyway.”
“You said ‘another virus’, does this happen often?”
He paused, eyebrows furrowed. “Once every couple of months.”
“And he always gets you to fix it for him? Does he every do anything for you in return?”
“I don’t mind doing him a favour every now and again, what’s family for, eh?” he smiled an innocent, adorable smile and took another sip of his drink.
“Anyway, I’d better go.” He stood, finishing his drink. “It was lovely to see you again Sarah.”
She stood too; her smile did not touch her eyes. “We should do this again sometime.”
He grunted a grunt that could have meant anything and turned to leave.
Sarah watched him walk out and cursed herself. She really should have hugged him at least. She wondered if anyone would ever love her like she loved them.