MY BADGE – Short story

Production Year: 2022

My Badge is a short story about the aftermath of a breakup told from both perspectives. You can find my thoughts on writing the short story at the bottom of the page. Note: If reading the story on a mobile, turn your phone to landscape for line formatting purposes.

My Badge


I wear a badge. It reads, “I am yours”. I wear it everywhere I go and show it to everyone that I meet.

I play the same memory over and over again in my head. It was my birthday and we had fallen asleep on a beach, waking up sunburnt, laughing.

I miss you. Some days are like swimming against the tide. Letting go of you is like trying to ask a circle to fit into a square hole. It’s just not possible. I pass a place that I know you’d love or hear a song that should have been ours. I’m finding everyday life difficult.

I rent a car and I drive. I drive to the top of our country. I stand at the top of a cliff at dusk by the sea. I watch as the waves crash into one another and see the haze of the sun dancing in the air. I feel a breeze and the sun’s warmth fading.

I scream your name at the top of my voice telling you I love you. I scream again, bargaining for you to god’s sake please come back. I’m mesmerised by the sea as the tears begin to stream down my face.

I say enough is enough and send a text message to you in desperation. I tell you everything, my fears, hopes and dreams, what went wrong with us and how we can fix it.

You tell me to move on and I tell you that you’re a heartless bitch. You block me.

Weeks later and the anger sets in. I clearly meant nothing to you, how could anyone possibly do this to another person. I hope you hurt like I do.

I rip your favourite t-shirt of mine. The t-shirt you wore when you slept next to me. The t-shirt you wore when we fumbled around. The t-shirt you wore when you looked at me with those eyes when I knew I’d done something wrong.

With every shred I feel unequivocal pain.

I throw the remainder of the t-shirt in the bin. I consider burning every birthday and Christmas card that you’d ever written me but I can’t.

I lie down on the floor of my bedroom sobbing uncontrollably as I imagine you with other lovers. I regret the day I ever met you.

I have to know that I’m not alone in this so I listen to songs of loss and read breakup blogs on the Internet. I tell everyone and anyone about you, as if I’m telling some epic tragic love story.

Months later and I begin to venture out into the world again, like a wounded animal coming out of hiding. I play new sports and get fit, making new friends in the process. I start to feel stronger.

I grow to a point where the man you and I once knew is unrecognisable, both inside and out. My badge still reads “I am yours” but occasionally it gets worn and I forget to show it to people. I no longer tell the tale of our epic tragic love story.

Winter turns to spring and spring to summer. I have a quiet thought for you each change. Your birthday passes and I imagine myself wishing it to you. I walk along a busy street and see a queue for a musical of your favourite film. I pass it wondering who will be taking you to see it.

My grief becomes less prominent and I can hear myself laughing again. I hope that you are too.

I’m finally ready to take my badge off. And so, I wear another. It reads “I am me”.

In the quiet moments I do still grieve for you, for who I was but most of all for what could have been.

I’m more now than just your past but to me, you’ll always be home. I go into the unknown. Next time we meet, we’ll be two strangers, sharing a story about a time we had fallen asleep on a beach, waking up sunburnt, laughing.


I wear a badge. It reads, “Leave me alone”.

I play the same memory over and over again in my head. A day that you made me cry for something so insignificant. That day was meant to be lovely.

I make myself busy to a point where I don’t have to think about you. I don’t owe you any more of my energy.

I feel dread as I walk past a bakery where we used to eat, hoping that you’re not in there. I feel sick in the pit of my stomach and have to make my way home.

I wish for the day where I don’t have to feel anxious at the sound of your name or the thought of bumping into you.

I used to picture you standing in front of me on what would have been our wedding day, our family watching us.

It was only that though, a picture. You were only an idea, and I was in love with that idea…of the person I wanted you to be, not the person who you were, or are. I gave it my all as you chose to drag me along, aimlessly tugged by a thread of hope that was better off being cut off completely.

Now that idea, that picture of you becomes distant and faded, like an old family photograph. I feel a failure and a laughing stock for even believing in it. I regret the day I ever met you.

I feel like life is going at a hundred miles per hour. I change my hair and get a new ear piercing. I feel unrecognisable and brand new.

I go out with my friends. I’m confident and drinking more now than I ever used to but I don’t care.

I start dating again. It’s fun and I feel myself laughing. I don’t want or need anything serious. I’m released from the chains of broken promises.

I receive a text message out of nowhere from you. It’s overwhelming. You’re trying to manipulate me and make me feel guilty.

I tell you to move on and I get your anger in return. You don’t respect me so I block you. I want the best for you. I hope you find it.

Months pass by and the dating starts to get worn. I make the same drunken mistakes and I start to see the cracks in each man that I meet. I like somebody but it’s the same old story.

My friends reassure me that I don’t need you and that I’m doing the right thing. I certainly agree with them.

I get drunk and have an awful date with a pushy guy. I make a swift exit from his flat and find myself upset on the walk home. Memories of us start to hit me like a freight train. I scream into my pillow, pleading for you to please leave my head. I start to doubt myself but I can’t talk to you now, too much has happened.

Winter turns into spring and spring into summer. My friends don’t go out with me as much these days. Instead, they stay inside with their partners. I guess the buzz of their friend returning to them has faded.

I swap the nights out clubbing for nights in reading in the bath.

I begin to put my time into crafts and meet new friends along the way. I lay off the dates and I’m happier for it.

The day comes where I have the strength to step foot into our once favourite bakery. God, I’ve missed the food. I let the memories in now and I wonder how you are from time to time.

I’m finally ready to take off my badge. And so, I wear another. It reads, “I’m fine”.

I walk along the street and see a poster for a superhero film that I know you’d love. I raise an eyebrow and smile to myself.

For some reason it reminds me of a time where we fell asleep on a beach and woke up sunburnt, laughing.

Behind the story

I think that love and grief are universal so I thought this story may hit a note with many people. Grief in its own effect is the cost of love. If somebody could read the story and go “Oh that happened to me” or “I felt like that too” then I’d feel like I have done my job.

I wanted to connect both characters through their joint experiences, grief and healing despite being apart. In my view the characters are in the same city but they could be countries apart if read in a different way. It is almost that both are ghosts to one-another yet still connected using moments they both remember. I do believe that during a breakup, one can feel that the ‘other’ is a ghost, neither seen or heard, whether they like it or not.

“My Badge” explores the 5 stages of grief , Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. However, not everybody experiences the 5 stages in the same order nor in a linear fashion. I wanted this to be woven into the DNA of the story.

I constructed each story in a way where both characters go through the 5 stages of grief in a different order. “HIM” starts with denial whilst “HER” starts with anger. Both stories end with acceptance. The short story isn’t just about grief though, it’s about healing and the journey to get there. I used events in both stories as a way of distinguishing time and also to connect them both.

I decided to tell the story from the first person to create a sense of intimacy so that you as the reader felt you were in the shoes of either “HIM” or “HER”.

Both characters are in pain in different ways and healing in different ways too. The story is structured in a way where we read one side of the story, which in itself acts as a complete arc, before we read the other half of the story, again an arc. Both stories also fulfil a complete wider story/arc of a journey.

When “HIM” acts we eventually read the perspective of “HER” to his actions and vice versa. I wanted to show that neither perspective is wrong in the story. The tragedy is that each character is unable to communicate how they feel to the other so in a way it is a bittersweet story.

I had always hoped that both characters would meet again in passing at the end, as if crossing the same road. The connection on the beach I feel is aimed to be beautiful yet tragic in that neither knows that the other is thinking of them. Yet there is a connection through a moment in time. I think ultimately, the story is hopeful that they both think of something that would make the other happy.

“My Badge” was given a special mention at the anthology short story prize 2022.