The Story Collector – Flash fiction

They call me the story collector but I’m being strangled by the threads of souls. As I stand by the bus stop on Christmas Eve I can feel them reaching for me. Slipping in through the delicate parts of my body; these unwelcome guests.

They lodge themselves there and I reach for my throat. There’s a tightening, my vision blurs, I gasp – and then nothing. I blink. The drone of the busy street continues. Chattering voices and the scent of adrenaline, hands clutching a multitude of shopping bags in a desperate attempt to cover feelings of inadequacy.

A short sharp gust of icy wind carries a piece of paper into the air. It flies towards me and slaps itself against my leg like a stamp of ownership. I peel it off, scrunch it into a ball and throw it into a nearby dustbin.

The bus draws up and lets off a belching sound. The doors swing open and there is a surge of energy as the restless race for a spot within. Distorted faces press up against the windows. The doors swing closed, the compressor releases and the bus moves away. I take a deep breath and begin to walk.

Back in the solitude of my home I open my book and start to write. Whilst they wrap their gifts and feed their illusions I untangle their stories so I can breathe.