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On The Hook




 Sarah Jackson





Have you ever fallen so madly, deeply, head-over-arse in love with someone other than your own reflection (because, let’s face it guys, we all love that handsome bastard smiling back out of the mirror) that you would do anything for that other person? I mean Anything. I mean lay your soul out in front of her (or his if you’re that way inclined, I’m not here to judge) six inch black patent leather heels and wait for the inevitable stomping with a big fat grateful grin on your face. I have.

It was her smile. Well, really it was her legs, but you know it sounds better, more romantic if you say something like ‘The first thing I noticed was her smile.’ You know you’re lying, she knows you’re lying, hell, your mum smirks the first time you say it with that puppy dog expression on your face because you’ve almost convinced yourself it’s true.

Anyway, there she was, all legs and smiles and drinking a pint of lager. Well, that was it for me. Nothing so subtle as an arrow from cupid to mark my falling into the realms of the doomed. No, I was smashed at seventy miles an hour by a myopic octogenarian driving a sports car. Right there in the middle of the bar. I knew she was the one for me. Sounds so cheesy now. But love is a bit cheddary. No getting away from it I’m afraid.

I swaggered over to her and leaned on the bar all macho-like. “A girl after my own heart,” I said, nodding at the pint glass. Thinking back now on what a prat I must have looked, I can still feel my cheeks get a bit warm.

“Oh yeah?” she asked. Dead cool, a smile on her face.

“Fancy another?” I heard her friend giggle. I didn’t care. I was hooked.

“Go on then.” She set her glass down on the bar and brushed her hand against mine. (Fireworks, electric shocks, the usual blood rush.) “That your bike in the car park?” She asked.

“Yep,” I said (she wasn’t psychic, I was wearing my leathers).

“Very cool. What is it, a Kawasaki z900A4?”

Well that was it, any woman who drank her beer by the pint and knew that much about bikes had to have stepped out of a dream. I should have known then it couldn’t last forever.

It took forty three years for my heart to get smashed. We were married for thirty nine of those. And then she left me.

I don’t regret a single second of it though. It was one amazing journey, and she never stopped smiling. Even near the end, when the illness was at its worst and the pain was really awful, and I knew she was holding back the tears for me.

You know, she did have fantastic legs. But if I'm being really honest, from the very beginning, it's always been that smile.



SARAH JACKSON lives in the Northwest of England with her husband, her cats, and the characters from whichever story she's working on at the time. She's the first to admit things can sometimes get a little crowded. Her stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Whispers of Wickedness, Midnight In Hell and Southern Ocean Review. She was one of the winners of the Guardian's Nanotales Competition 2007.
"I wrote On The Hook because I wanted to write something nice. It was an attempt to get away from my usual, depressing, 'everyone must die' slice-and-dice stuff. Of course, in the end, someone still dies, but it's different, because in this story, I'm reflecting the other side of the human condition, and even now, when I'm feeling a little empty, I remember what I was feeling when I wrote that, and it makes me happy.
I'm not really sure what it was that prompted me to write it in the first place, except that every once in a while it pops into my head how lucky I am to have my husband and I just felt the need to put that down on paper somehow. I know that sounds so sickly sweet, but it is what it is, I guess."