Cliché – by Ryan Green

Were you aware of his involvement? I mean, did he give you any hints, any clues? Things he said, maybe, that made you suspect? Was there any doubt at all?

Nothing. We were together all the time; he would never have had the chance to do what you’re accusing him of.

Three people are dead, among them an 8 year old boy and hundreds more are maimed and in really bad shape because of him, because of your affair.

Don’t call it that.


Affair. Don’ t call it an affair. You’re making it sound cheap and dirty when it wasn’t. It was anything but.

So tell us. That’s why we brought you in today. To tell us. Tell us about Mustafa and start telling us soon because at the moment we have grounds to hold you in a cell.

On what grounds?

For harbouring and abetting a terrorist

He’s not a terrorist and I already told you I don’t know anything.

How did you meet him?

I met him on the swim-team at college, before he converted. I knew he was foreign but I wasn’t sure where he was from. I thought he was beautiful. Dark skinned, permanent five o’clock shadow. His hair was cropped and jet-black. He told me he was Turkish and I was so embarrassed to admit that I didn’t actually know anything about his country. I knew it was somewhere ‘over there’ and I guessed Istanbul was the capital. I wasn’t sure if he liked me. He would look at me differently than the other guys. Maybe he could tell I was different. Maybe he understood we shared the same secret. I knew he had a girlfriend and a son so I was confused.

Who made the first move?

Is that relevant?


I was teaching English part-time at the university. One night he texted me really late and we started chatting. He asked if he could come over for some English lessons. I said sure. When he came we were both tense. I think we could both feel what was going to happen. I made coffee and he asked me about the scar above my eye. It was normal. Just two people getting to know each other.

Go on

Then we worked on the computer. We went through some grammar tenses and vocab. He was distracted for sure. He said it was difficult. We were sat close together and his leg kept touching mine. I wanted to kiss him so badly but I was terrified of making the first move.  Nothing happened. He left and texted me almost immediately to say he’d had a nice time. Over the next few days he started messaging me more and more.

What did the messages say?

Friendly stuff. Nothing strange, but I could feel him getting closer, in my mind’s eye I pictured what was going to happen.

Which was?

Our second lesson. We were sat at the computer again and this time my urges got the better of me. I leaned over quickly and kissed him hard on the mouth as he was speaking. He froze. Then I kissed his neck. The whole time my mind was racing and I could hear my own heartbeat. I was terrified. He wasn’t moving and I was sure I’d made a huge mistake until I felt how hard he was through his jeans. Then I stopped and moved away. He didn’t say anything, just continued with the sentence he was saying before I’d interrupted him with a kiss. His eyes were fixed on the computer screen and then he lunged at me and I pushed him back thinking he was attacking me but in our fight his lips found mine and it was perfect.

We don’t need you to be so candid here.

But you do. Because when we were together he was soft and kind and caring. A man with murder on his mind doesn’t love someone as softly as he loved me.

We’ll take your word for it. Terrorists, murderers, mad-men, they’re all loving fathers and doting husbands. They cradle their babies and sing them to sleep before walking out the door to blow a guy’s brains out. Instincts are always in conflict and we see it everyday.

Mustafa’s instincts weren’t conflicted. There was only his loving instinct. He was conflicted with his feelings for another guy, for religion and his family, but never a killer instinct – not like you’re implying.

Did he ever strike you?


He struck his wife.


So what makes you special?

You’d have to ask him.

Tell us about the day of the bombing.


How was he that morning?

He was himself. Then when I told him I was going to the Carnival he freaked out. He was stammering and telling me I shouldn’t go. He was really upset.

What did he say?

He said it was dangerous.

What did you think?

I thought it was cute.


Yeah, I thought he was naïve sometimes. He was getting more and more upset and we started fighting.

Didn’t this strike you as unusual?

He had his quirks. He was foreign and whenever he said or did something which I thought was unusual. I put it down to that.

So you didn’t go to Carnival. We know that.

No, we stayed at home.

When did you hear the first explosion? How did Mustafa react?

We were in bed and he went rigid, like the first time I kissed him. We heard the first blast and Mustafa just stared through the window at the smoke rising from downtown. I kissed him and touched him and he came in my hand. I don’t remember hearing the next two explosions. I can only remember watching Mustafa as he watched the sky outside. I watched his lips recite a prayer I couldn’t hear and his heart speak a language I couldn’t understand. Then I fell asleep.


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Ryan Green is an English teacher from London who lives in Istanbul.  He studied Creative Writing at University and really enjoys writing flash fiction.


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2 Comments to “Cliché – by Ryan Green”

  1. tough situation, indeed-the forbidden, inappropriate, seemingly unavailable, exotic fruit. I heard once that expatriotism is usually pursued via having an attraction to the citizens of a nation in most cases.

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