Story :: Goodbye

Goodbye (349 words)

After she said goodbye to John for the fourth time, dizzy with unlooked for joy and a night of no sleep, Gutter began to wonder if this was really just a fling. A palate cleanser, her sister called it. Something to refresh you before you moved on to the next course.

Gutter thought of John’s pale face on the pillow just before his alarm went off, of his shy smile when she fed him poached eggs, and couldn’t think of him as just a mouthful of sorbet or a mint that would melt on her tongue. He was a thing that she wanted to get her teeth into, to savour.

Marina had always meted out her affection a little at a time, and only once he had ‘earned’ it, as if loving someone could be like paying them a salary. John lavished it on her. Sad, shy John had shown her more kindness in an hour than Marina had in the past five years.

She started to make the bed, but a scrap of white caught her eye – a note, left on the upturned chest that made a bedside table. For a moment, she couldn’t breathe. He was saying goodbye, she was sure of it. The shy smile in her head turned; she saw now that it was guilt, that he couldn’t tell her straight. She finished straightening the sheets, before she sat down and picked up the note. Her chest was tight; she shrugged off the tatty dressing gown that constricted her. Maybe she just wouldn’t read it, rather than give him the satisfaction. She crumpled it up and threw it across the room. It skittered through a spider web and rolled under the heater.

Gutter glared across the room at it. A tiny corner of it peeked out at her. She had to know. On all fours she scrambled across the room, dignity forgotten, and retrieved the note.

I finally feel like I can breathe. You’re the most beautiful

person I know, inside and out. I want to leave her for you. 

Gutter refolded the note.

Written for the CAKE.shortandsweet Wednesday Write-in.  Liked this? Read the rest of Gutter and Luca’s story here!


Read my other free stories here.


About sarahgracelogan

Sarah Grace is an itinerant scribbler and general layabout. She runs a writing group called CAKE.shortandsweet, because any form of procrastination from actual writing is always attractive to the serious author of refined taste. When not distracted by laser pens, Sarah Grace writes novels, short stories and flash fiction, poetry, stage scripts and screenplays. She has performed her work at Stirred Poetry, Bad Language and Tongue in Cheek Manchester. Her first publication, Humping the Boonies is a self-published chapbook available directly from the author, or from Travelling Man, Manchester. You can find more details about her ongoing projects, not to mention a selection of free stories up for grabs right here on her blog. She also likes to talk about theatre, film, books, photography, and especially games and other things that involve collaborative storytelling. Sarah Grace likes feedback, in whatever form it comes.


  1. I enjoyed this. I admired the description of misreading someone’s true feelings/intentions: ‘The shy smile in her head turned; she saw now that it was guilt, that he couldn’t tell her straight. ‘ Haven’t we all done that?
    I like the way it dragged me through so many emotions in so few words. Elation, then irritation and anger at Gutter being used and dumped, then a flood of relief when she reads the note.
    Gutter – strange name. Were we supposed to read anything into it?

  2. I enjoyed this, though I found it a little confusing at the mid-point, when you mention Marina and John, and I got mixed up in your pronouns – I wasn’t sure who was whose partner. I think I’m still not sure! Perhaps that’s because I haven’t been following these characters all along, so excuse me if it’s just my ignorance talking.

    Also, at the beginning, you use the word ‘palette’ – it should be ‘palate.’ I hate to be a nit-picker, but there you go. 🙂

    I loved the emotion in this piece, and I’m glad Gutter went with her instincts and finally read the note. I liked the understated final sentence – it says a lot, without actually saying very much. If that makes sense. 🙂

  3. Elaine Peters

    Para 3 – was it ‘she’ had earned it? Also ‘palate’, not the artist’s palette. Poor Gutter, she’s so insecure, you hope John really is The One and that they can make each other happy ever after! I really like the note skittering through a spider web.

  4. Elaine Peters

    PS – SJ’s comment wasn’t there when I was typing mine, otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned ‘palate’!

  5. Tessa Sheppard

    I loved the emotion in the story. Happy ending too. 🙂

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