Hiding Habit

C.R. Dudley Author, Orchid's Lantern Blog

I’ve always had a habit of hiding. Hiding from their stares, from their words; from their judgement. It’s like being suspended in a space outside time, as though he who is not observed does not exist. I’ve always been good at it, too. As I child, I would sometimes stay hidden for hours at a time – in the cupboard under the stairs, in a hole in the ground, or high up in a tree – long after the seekers had given up.

It was after my first Valentine’s Day blunder that I learned how to step up my game. Shame expanded inside of me, making my skin puffy and red, yet strangely pliable. I wrung my hands together and squeezed water from my eyes, and in doing so I became smaller. I hid in my locker at school all day. Its darkness and cold metal edges held me tighter than anything I’d hid in before. I never wanted to leave.

I soon developed the ability to make neat little folds in my skin during such times. I’d practice pouring out the tears every evening until I was completely dry, which is necessary for the folding. It’s a bit like forcing the air out of an air bed to put it back in its box. I began hiding in smaller and smaller places, pushing myself further outside of time with each attempt. There was the cutlery drawer, I remember. Then the pencil case, and the teapot. Snuggly snuggly.

Now, several years later, I am in the midst of my most successful hide yet. I’m scrunched up in a Japanese puzzle box: one inch by two, 36 moves to solve. I’ve never felt so secure, which is probably why I’m able to write all of this down. But, although I feel secure, there is a tiny part of me – just one little fold somewhere near my heart – that hopes someone will come and find me. A puzzle-master in shining armor, perhaps. But no one ever does.


For more of my flash fiction, check out my book Fragments of Perception – out now as an e-book and paperback.

On 20th February I will be attending the fourth Virtual Futures ‘Near-Future Fictions’ Event in London, where my new story ‘Toxic Duck Inc’ will be read to a live audience. Tickets are available here.

24 thoughts on “Hiding Habit

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  1. Don’t give up. I know people think I am the eternal optimist, but I am not. I am much more a realist with optimistic tendencies. You are one of those rare finds. That means you need a rare find. I believe that find is out there. And just like losing one’s keys. You’ll find them, and they’ll be in the last place you look.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You and semi-colons. I’m going to write something about an author debating with herself about “Semi or period? Semi or period. Oh, in furtherance of the thought…Semi!” then tossing the notebook on the bed and one foot not coming along into bed with the other. She looks down there’s a big, furry hand coming out from under the bed with a grip on her ankle. “Okay, okay. Period. Jeez. You’d think you were Vonnegut or somebody.”
    “You okay over there?”
    “Yes, it’s just the semi-colon monster under the bed again.”

    On the the other hand (foot?) this is a perfect chunk of early Valentine disillusion with a touching universality.


      1. Kurt Vonnegut once called them evil. I once mentioned to a Rhetoric PhD that I thought they were superfluous and archaic. She explained them for about half an hour, and sort of agreed. I was just busting you, which I did in the beta. I had an old prof one time say there is not following thought so grand that it can’t be conjoined or set apart and the *&^% semi-colon is too polite and represents a failure of yours to commit.” Which isn’t true. But to this day when I see one the monster under the bed comes out and goes “Mmmmm…” I suppose that makes me a one man semi-colon eradication project?


      2. I think it’s very much a personal style choice. I normally read my work aloud, and think about where I want a softer pause. I tend to use them frequently in ethereal or stream of consciousness pieces because it seems to compliment the effect. My use of it in the first paragraph here is technically incorrect though, I’ll take that 😜


      3. The SC is always a style choice, so long as the following though is a continuation. I use old school … for that elongated soft pause. Your narrative is always strong enough to stand up on it’s own and slap the rules, though. I was, again, just busting on you.


      4. And please continue to do so, I want to improve 🙂 Interestingly, I used to use the elipsis a lot but Grammarly kept slapping my hands for it so I’ve learned to cut that right back.


      5. Same here. Sometimes it gives bad advice or takes away personality. ‘Unecessary ellipsis’ was coming up far too often though, and I ended up agreeing there were better ways of expressing…

        I don’t consider this to be clutter; it’s constructive conversation. Thank you for your input.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I should look into other punctuation for a stall. I dislike the — for anything but an interruption. Maybe we should go fish for an alternative. I’ll check back. Good luck on the 20th!


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