The boyfriend by E F S Byrne

The Boyfriend

Hailey didn’t have a boyfriend. That was what she told everybody, not realizing nobody cared. 

Simone struggled to speak sometimes, but Hailey liked him. He was soft and warm and smiley and never trying to put his hand too close to her chest, or twitch his lips over her mouth when they kissed hello on the cheek after a long weekend. He smelt much better than the other boys. And he was funny. He made school just a little more bearable. His pauses, the halting, slowly repeated syllables, calmed Hailey and offered respite from her parent’s machine gun rattle tattle. 

Stammering came natural to Simone. A perfect storm. Impenetrable shield. He could ignore his parents, laugh silently at the bullies at school, all without saying a word. People lost interest quickly when he didn’t talk back. Simone liked the privacy and Hailey loved to join in and swim in its depts. He could talk to her. They hung out all winter, muttering, sharing, words never an issue.

Spring blossomed, then withered away. The sun blazed and the college gates edged shut with a creak and the faint hope they would never open again. Holidays hit them in the face and obligations pushed them apart, forcing their voices onto new wavelengths.

Mother and father packed Simone into the caravan and disappeared down the street, out onto a road and off to the beach. They were arguing already, before closing the car door and slamming into first gear. 

Hailey watched from the bus stop and pitied poor Simone. He wouldn’t be saying much all summer, forced into the silence of listening, stammering the odd word, stuttering when asked for anything that required commitment. She watched the car shiver around a corner and shuffled home to find her own shelter. 

They’d never kissed but she wondered if maybe he was a boyfriend, if that was why she missed him so much, why she was bored without him. 

When autumn lumbered in and the heavy, metal, school gates yawned open, Simone was waiting for her. He kissed her on the cheek and grabbed her hand. His fingers were sticky and sweaty. After a summer of silence, Simone needed to speak. The words rattled awkwardly in her ear. She slipped her hand away and rushed off to her seat.

Simone looked over his shoulder from the row in front and grinned. Hailey put her head down and pretended to take notes. Out of the corner of her eye she watched the new boy, long hair, strong jaw. The teacher began calling their names. The intruder answered with an assured flash, a flick of his fringe, a gentle giggle. She felt her cheeks burn violently. She heard Simone stumble with his syllables. It was her turn. She sensed her tongue cling to the roof of her mouth. Sweat dripped off her upper lip as she fumbled for her own name. She glanced around in panic and prayed stuttering wasn’t contagious. 

E. F. S. Byrne works in education and writes when his teenage kids allow it. He blogs a regular micro flash story. Links to this and over fifty published pieces can be found at or follow him on Twitter @efsbyrne

Scroll to Top