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GRAVEL IN THE HOURGLASS By Nelson E. Martinez ***** PUBLISHED BY: Nelson E. Martinez on Smashwords Gravel in the Hourglass Copyright Š 2012 by Nelson E .Martinez All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners. Smashwords Edition, License Notes Thank you for downloading this free ebook. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at, where they can also discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.

His fist smashed against the wall. The sound of flesh against dry wall resonated through his apartment. Smash, smash, smash. Until his fist broke through and hit solid wood. In his red anger he got his hand stuck inside of his wall. “Shit! Fucking shit!” Quito yelled. He could feel the wetness of blood on his fist and he could almost feel the wood absorbing the substance. “Cursing won’t help,” he heard It say. Sometimes he saw It but mostly he just heard its voice. He chose to ignore it. He began to pull his fist but found that the wall only bit deeper into his hand. “You’re making it worse,” he could almost see It sitting in his chair out of the corner of his eye, “Unclench your fist and wriggle your hand out,” the voice was being very smug about the advice. “I didn’t ask for your help! Why can’t you leave me alone?” he turned and yelled at the empty chair. He could almost feel It breathing next to his other ear. “I am you. Now be a good boy and listen,” Quito showed no sign that he heard It but he did obey. He unclenched his fist and was able to work his hand out, “That looks bad,” he could see Its face screwed with sarcasm. “Shut it, I’m not blind,” He looked at his hand and it was white from the broken cement with bright red veins from the blood making its way to his elbow and then to the floor. He made his way to the bathroom with his other hand as a cup under his elbow saving his floor from his angry blood. He put his hand under the running water. The faucet water was so cold that it burned. Maybe I put on the hot water. He looked and it was indeed on cold. He began to clean the wound and nurse it himself. He felt It leaning in the door frame of the bathroom. He looked up at the mirror and he was staring at nothing. His mind’s eye remembered the first time that he kissed her. They were in a noisy wine bar and she had just confessed to him that she had a boyfriend. He told her that as long as she was happy he would be as well. He was smiling and happy to be her friend. That was the last time he remembered feeling satisfied with just being her friend. Her hand then rose up to his face and her cool piano playing hands held his cheeks. Their lips touched and his heart raced. The bar went silent and they were then alone. He opened his mouth and their tongues met for the first time. The moment lasted but for a minute but his heart still fluttered at the memory of it. “I remember that night,” his reflection gave him a sarcastic smile, “You told her no when she wanted to take you to her house to fuck. She chased you after you put her in that cab and she tried her best to wear you down. But you were stubborn. But it wasn’t your stubbornness that stayed your hand, it was fear.” It made him angry. He left his reflection in the bathroom and closed the door on it. “That won’t stop me,” It came from behind him. “I told her no because I loved her and we were drunk. It would have been wrong,” He grew pain weary. “You were weak. You were scared. When she gave you another chance a few months later I thought that you were going to walk away,” This time It was in his head. “I almost did. Not because I was afraid or weak, but because that was not how I wanted it to happen,” He sat down and buried his face into his hands.

He was leaving her apartment when she offered to walk him down. That was when she told him that she had feelings for him. Quito was ecstatic. He was so relieved to hear her say that and it felt so good to tell her back. He was going to leave when she offered him sex but he knew that this would be the last chance. He took it. He remembered how they made love. He told her afterward that he loved her. She did not reply nor did she ever in that context. He left his memory and looked at the scar she had left him on his right wrist from that night. “But then she decided that she didn’t want to do it anymore and the sex stopped. She wanted to stay your friend and you accepted even though you hated her for breaking your heart. And then she broke it even more when she started going out with that gringo not a few weeks after that. But this,” He could see It now in front of him shaking its finger. It looked just like him, “this takes the cake.” He just looked at It as it turned away from him and picked up Quito’s phone. It clicked on the text that started it all: Serra: He asked me to marry him… It put the phone down as it shook its head. “You’ve always dreamed of marrying her. I don’t blame you, hell, your dreams are my dreams. She was what we always wanted. That was why we held her so close. She saw the same thing but she wanted us as a friend. But she had already opened that door. Can’t close it now,” It sighed and faded back into his mind. Quito did not reply to the text. Even though it had been years since they were lovers he still had hope. It was one of the things keeping him sane but now… Incoming call: Serra Her picture popped up on his phone. “Don’t answer it,” he told himself. He couldn’t bear it. To hear her voice would make him break down. “Yeah, not a smart idea. I mean you’ve cried more over this girl than people do over those sappy T.V. movies. Get a grip,” It said always keeping close. “Jump off a roof,” He told It. “I just might,” It went quiet. The sun was setting when he got that text. He could imagine that her boyfriend had proposed over a romantic dinner at a very fancy restaurant under a sunset. He shook the thought from his mind. It was dark now and he had turned off all of the lights in his apartment. He didn’t remember when he did it but they were all off. The clock was ticking presenting him with time. About every 120 ticks his phone would go off. He let it vibrate and vibrate and vibrate and vibrate. Time was passing in space but not in his life. It was as if there was gravel in his hourglass. He couldn’t keep going. Either that or his sand was up. He could hear Serra in his head denying him. “I don’t see you romantically.” “I love you as my friend.” “Quito, I don’t regret what we had but I wish it were different.” “It’s not you it’s me.” “No really it is me.” “You are one of the greatest men I know.” “You make me feel so happy.” “I wish I could feel the same.”

Then why can’t you? Why are you so afraid? Why can’t you love me like I love you? I gave you everything and you threw it back at me when you thought you loved me too. But that was just a lie. A rouse. A clever rouse that led me alone. I was never the same. You broke me Serra and you were sorry but words are only words. “I never meant to hurt you,” He could almost hear the words with his ears. Knock knock knock. He looked up from his darkness. “Quito, are you there? Why aren’t you answering your phone?” she yelled. When he heard the knocks he thought it was Serra. “Open up! I know you’re in there,” Emma yelled. It was his girlfriend. She grunted and then said, “Fine I’ll use my key,” he could hear the key in the lock turning. He almost wished that it wouldn’t work. The door opened and light flooded into the living room. He could see the light reflecting off of her red hair making it look as if it was on fire. “Why are you in the dark?” She asked as her keys jingled. She pulled the key out and turned on the lights. He could see her green eyes searching for him but she found him quickly, “Hey babe! Why are you in the dark?” “No reason,” his voice was quiet and somber. “What’s wrong? You have that look in your eye that,” she stopped midsentence as she saw the hole in the wall, “Oh my God what happened? Is that blood?” she then looked at his hand and walked over. She fell to her knees and held his hurt hand. She looked up to him with her green eyes. His mind quickly flew to his memories of Emma. He had met her while working. He was still broken up about Serra but he took an interest in her. She made him happy but at first he would think about Serra when they were together and kissing. He would pretend it was Serra but he decided that was wrong. She began to build her own memories in him. Sometimes she would make him forget about Serra but never fully. He never loved Emma as he did Serra but he decided that he never would. “What happened? I’ve never seen you do anything like this,” Her eyes were filled with worry. “It’s fine. I just got some news that upset me and I acted childish,” his smile made his eyes close and he made it look as real as possible. “Oh,” she said. She would let him go but she would ask him about it later. She unwrapped what Quito had done to his fist and wrist. “You look like you might have fractured something but I’m no expert,” She got up and jogged to the fridge. She got a plastic bag and put ice in it. She got back and held the ice to his fist and then kissed him. Incoming call: Serra Emma reached over and picked up the phone. Before Quito could utter a word she answered it. “Uh-oh, this is not going to be pretty,” It said. Quito was on his feet before he knew he wanted to stand up. He was already moving. “Hey, Serra! How are you? Oh my God, are you okay?” Emma said. That was the last thing he heard after he slammed the front door. He began to run up instead of down. When he was three stories up, he heard his front door open and Emma yell for him. He kept moving up those stairs. He heard her calling for him but she sounded like she went in the wrong direction. He reached the heavy metal door to the roof that said no access. He opened it and put the cinderblock, which was holding sentry at the door, at the corner of the doorframe so he could get back in. The gravel crunched underneath his boots as he made his way to the edge. The edge was

two feet higher than the ground he walked on and was once yellow but the sun had bleached it white over the years. He stepped up on it but he was not on the edge. The edge was two feet thick. He looked down and it was the alley behind the building. No one would see him or complain. He looked off as he faced south. He could see the skyline of the city and imagined that Serra was there somewhere. “You need to let her go,” he told himself, “You have someone who cares for you.” “I don’t know for how long. You keep pushing her away for Serra and one day she might just be gone,” It said. Quito ignored it, “We always loved this view. It reminded us of how small we are in this tiny world and that we are insignificant.” “You’re insignificant,” that was all he could retort with. He was getting weaker. “Oh-ho! Are you telling me or are you telling yourself? Not that it makes a difference we are one,” It was now standing next to him with its arms outstretched, “This fresh air is amazing isn’t it. Look at the stars. They look so lustrous on such a moonless night.” He looked up at the clear moonless sky. It was hard to see the night sky clearly in the city but tonight it was exceptionally clear. It made him feel so much smaller than he already felt. “One more step,” It whispered latching on to his pain. Every heartbeat was agony for Quito. He didn’t want to do this any longer. His love for Serra was overwhelming. In his mind he would do anything for her and give up anything. There was nothing that he wouldn’t do for her. “Then take a step,” It said, “Do her a favor and get out of her life. You have plagued her like a lost puppy since she kissed you. You are a slave of her will. Just do it and free yourself,” He could feel the phantom hands on his back influencing him. His toes flirted with the edge. The edge became a blade and he was standing on a razor. It dug into his feet as if it was really a blade. He could feel his feet wet with blood even though they weren’t. It whispered to him for a long time. He lost track of time. He wondered if it would really be a release from the pain. Then he heard heels behind him. He knew the person that the feet belonged to. He knew the sound of her walk as he did his own heart. Why? He heard her open the door and heard the gravel crunch underneath her heel. He heard her breath stop. “Quito, what are you doing?” Serra’s voice asked. He wasn’t even sure that it was her voice. Maybe it was a ghost from his past. “Enjoying the view,” it was It that replied to her, not Quito. “Then step back and let’s talk,” Serra said as she slowly walked toward him. Gravel crunching beneath each step betraying her movements. She was scared. “I can talk fine from riiiiiiiiiight here,” It was smiling as it spoke sarcastically to her. He could hear her breathing heavily. “So, did you read my texts?” she said with a shaky voice. He felt exhilaration at the fact that he had some control over her. He smiled. “Just the one,” He said as he lifted just one finger. She sighed, “I needed to talk to you. I needed your advice. I needed you,” she sounded close to tears. He wanted to look back but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He was afraid of what he would see. There was silence between them as she silently sobbed. He could hear her sharp breaths. The wind was picking up on the warm summer night covering up her cries. The eastern sky began to glow as the moon began to rise. A sort of midnight dawning. “Say it,” Quito said loudly. “Say what?” she asked through a sob.

“What did you tell him?” He almost yelled. His fist clenched and his tears flowed without his will. “Why? I asked him why?” He could see her with his mind with her hands up close by her face but he could not see her left hand, “Why would you ask knowing how I am? I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to know why,” she couldn’t help but to speak. It was always an apparent quality of her character. “What did he say?” Quito said strong and quietly. “He said because I love you. He held my hand and said these words that I knew he rehearsed. He was smiling and I kept him waiting. I sat there in shock and I didn’t say anything. The whole restaurant was quiet and looking at us and…” “You hate that public tension,” he finished for her. “Yeah, so I walked out. I was outside and he came after me. He wanted my answer,” she remained silent. She was sobbing even more. He could feel her answer looming overhead like the millions of stars pressing down on him. “And?” Quito was feeling drained. “And,” she hesitated. He knew the answer, “I told him that I couldn’t,” he didn’t know. He turned around sharply and almost lost his balance. He could feel his heel kiss the air. But his feet found the solid ground and sound balance. He was stunned by her stained beauty and bare left hand. She had on a tight fitting red dress that accentuated her curves and her curly hair was beautifully placed onto her shoulders. Her mascara was running showing her black tears. But her hand was the most beautiful sight of them all. It was soft and smooth and absent of any jewelry. “Why?” he asked, “Why would you do such a thing?” “What?” she seemed confused. “You’ve told me you loved him and that you could see it happening. Why back out now?” “Isn’t it clear?” she asked almost pleading. “No, it’s not,” he said almost laughing. “If I said yes I would lose you,” she was half clutching her chest and half holding herself. “You have to give up something to get something, Serra. Plus I’ve come to terms with letting you go a long time ago,” He lied. “That is not what your apartment said. I saw the hole in the wall and the blood. I know you better than she does. I know you better than anyone else,” she was getting angry. “And I you. And I know that you came to check on me but I can tell you that I am fine,” Quito crossed his arms. “You are not fine. And neither am I,” she looked relieved to say so, “Quito, when I asked you why you wanted to be with me what did you tell me?” “I told you I wanted to be with you because nothing would make me happier,” he said with a straight face. She smiled at the fact. “You chose me and I was blind not to see how valuable you thought I was. I knew I loved you but I thought I did only as a friend. You cared for me more than anyone else ever had. You are the one person in this world that I would never want to lose. I realize now that I should have been with you all this time instead of fighting against it,” she was crying. “Why must you do this to me again,” Quito lightly clawed at his face, “The first time I left a girl for you and I broke her heart and I was only seeing that girl for a few weeks. This time

I put a lot of time and effort into this relationship and you can’t expect me to throw this all away do you?” He couldn’t tell if he was lying. “Then what were you doing on that edge,” she was bitter. He couldn’t help but be bitter back. “What do you care?” He bit back. “Because I care for you more than I should,” she said softly. She seemed defeated. “Fuck you,” It said, but only Quito heard it, “If she cared so much why did she leave us! She could have saved us of all this trouble and made us happy. She doesn’t deserve us. Just take that step back and end it. We don’t need this anymore. Leave her for good! I’ll take that step with you,” He could feel it pulling it’s hair out. “Fine, I’ll take that step,” “NO!” He heard It scream as Quito shoved it over the edge. Quito stepped down. Crunch. His boot moved the gravel under him. It was gone falling to its doom. Crunch. His other foot moved in front of the other. He walked to her and stopped in front of her. He could smell the wine on her breath. He looked passed her and he could see Emma in the doorway. It all hit him at once. The silence was loud in his head as he looked from Serra to Emma. His heart was the only sound on the rooftop. He could see Serra sobbing silently in front of him and Emma waiting patiently for his answer. He could not tell how long she had been waiting there and how much she had heard. Her eyes held as much fire as her hair did. “What are you gonna do?” Emma called over. Serra looked back at the angry redhead. Serra looked back at Quito and asked the same question. “I need time to think,” he walked passed Serra and stood in between the both of them. He looked at one and then the other. “I need to know now Quito!” Emma yelled, “I’m tired of all this back and forth with Serra. You need to choose tonight, I can’t take it anymore!” all that built up frustration was thrown into his face. “Take your time. I’m here for you and I won’t blame you no matter what you decide to do,” Serra said with tears on her cheek and she slightly turned away. “I…” he started but he couldn’t get the words out. “I will make a decision,” they both laid their eyes upon him, “I choose…” Time stood still, as if there was gravel in the hourglass. ###

Gravel in the Hourglass  

Quito, a young man is face with a decision of the heart between his loving girlfriend and an old flame. How does this novelleta conclude as...

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