Flash Fiction Event

Hi everyone,

We’ve just received an invite to a Flash Fiction event this Thursday at Waterstones on Byres Road. It’s at 7:30 and there will be an author – Gary Duncan – who is launching his own Flash Fiction collection, You’re Not Supposed To Cry.

We’ve also been asked if anyone would like to read any of their own Flash Fictions out at the event. If so, drop us an email/fb message with the piece/s you’d like to read.

Hope to see you there 😃

Mummy’s Girl

‘Look, darling, I’ve got you a nice new dress. Want to try it on?’

Mutely, Jenny shook her head. She concentrated on moving the stiff limbs of her new teddy bear, stroking its bristly fur, but she still didn’t look up.

‘Sweetheart, that one’s dirty. This one’s almost the same, it’s nice and bright, I can wash that one and give it right back to you-’

‘No.’

It was the only word she’d said since she came. No to changing her dress, no to taking her hair out of the matching yellow ribbons. A gift from her mother, the dress had once been the colour of pineapples, of lemons. Maybe it had smelled like her.

Now the yellow was grey, and it smelled stale. Still, she refused to take it off.

They used to hope her mother would visit again, and bring her something else to wear- but, as the weeks went on, that seemed increasingly unlikely.

by Molly Duffield

(prompts: 09/02, pineapple)

Don’t Say You Love Me

Eventually, they ban the word “love”.

It’s harmful, they claim. Causes too much hurt. But people find other ways to say “I love you”. They say “Let me know when you’re home, I don’t want you to go, are you cold, how was your day?” Everyone gets used to it, and then comes the same hurt. The same disappointment.

So they ban speech entirely.

They give up when they realise people can be left just as devastated when all that came before was a blown kiss, or a hand held over the heart.

When they realise people can hurt each other no matter what.

 

by Molly Duffield

(prompts: 10/02, censored)

Hate

He wanted to hate her.

He wanted to hate her when they had their first fight, and she blew everything out of proportion until they were screaming at each other over who cooked dinner more often. Instead, he knocked on her locked door with spaghetti carbonara at midnight. She let him in, and they ate in bed.

He wanted to hate her when she told him she didn’t care anymore. That she didn’t want to be with him, that if he couldn’t make an effort then she’d go home to her parents’ house and he wouldn’t ever hear from her again.

Instead, he bought her an engagement ring.

He wanted to hate her after they were married. When she’d sit in silence, staring at the television, ignoring their daughter tugging at her skirt. Instead, he took the baby and taught her the word “Mummy”.

He wanted to hate her when she left.

But he only ever loved her instead.

 

by Molly Duffield

(prompts: 11/02, thorn, ‘The roses are not less lovely…’)

Coward

She’d always known it would be easier to leave.

Easier than hiding in the bathroom for hours after she’d burned dinner. Easier than not being able to sleep without drinking. Easier than making excuses to their children.

But it would be hard, too.

Hard to bother feeding herself when she was only cooking for one. Hard to fall asleep alone. Hard to explain to the kids that she’d lied, that she didn’t fall down the stairs or bump her cheek on the doorframe…

So she stayed. For now.

A coward.

 

by Molly Duffield

(prompts: 12/02, easier, ‘I Want To Break Free’)

Exposed

I wish I’d thought ahead.

It was just so easy, at the time, to be reckless. I thought I had the power; had him under a spell, but it was all just a game.

I didn’t realise I was giving him a hold over me.

It seemed romantic, that he could undress me with his eyes. I never thought there would be a time when I’d wish he couldn’t. When we’d be arguing, and instead of looking me in the eye, I could tell he was exploring my skin instead.

I never thought there would be a time when his gaze would hurt.

When it would burn.

 

by Molly Duffield

(prompts: 13/02, foresight, exposure)

You’re Tearing Me Apart

The red jacket’s hanging where it always is.

On the back of the chair, next to the bed. The pockets are bulky with change, old receipts, cigarette packets. If I looked inside, who knows what I’d find? Maybe his car keys. Maybe a wallet.

Maybe his phone, with her number.

‘Can I borrow this?’ I shrug the jacket on without waiting for him to answer, and it’s warm, smells like him, ‘I’m going for a smoke.’

I do flick a lighter outside, but not for a cigarette. The jacket’s on the ground, and I want to drop the lighter on it. I want to watch it curl into nothing, for the phone with their texts to melt inside a pocket, I want to kick the ashes and tell him he never looked like a movie star anyway-

The lighter goes out.

I don’t burn the jacket. I leave it lying there on the ground.

It’s cold, walking home. My eyes sting.

 

by Molly Duffield

(prompts: 14/02, rebel)

Perhaps…

Fluttering damask curtains embrace the midnight breeze; dancing in the glow of palest moonlight and glinting stars. Mediterranean heat floods through open windows – and yet, it is not possible to stand in this room and not shiver. Perhaps it is the knowledge of what transpired. Perhaps it is the blood I am having to scrub off the floor. The floor, at least, can be cleaned; the sheets on the bed are beyond saving, perhaps they still would be even if they were not mottled with red. Perhaps if I imagine it is just a pattern – just red strawberries spotted on white cotton.

(27/2/17: Damask)

Heather Caldwell

Fresh

Salty air ruffles the strands of hair that hand free – too short to be collected in the hastily tied knot at the back of my head. The Caribbean sun beats down, battling with the fresh breeze off the sea.

From a lower part of the deck, someone shouts and tosses something up at me. My arm swoops down, catching the small orange ball with ease. It’s a rare treat and I peel back the rind with gentle fingers. The sharp juice bites into the scrapes which adorn my boat-worn hands but I don’t care. I was never allowed such delicacies back home. I wasn’t allowed much of anything back home. Probably one of the reasons I bolted the first chance I got.

From my perch on the prow, I gaze across the deck and up and down the rigging at the elsewhere unseen variety of people decorating the vessel. As I bite down on a segment of the orange – its sunbeam flavour bursting on my tongue – I think life has never been more wonderful.

(26/2/17: Oranges)

Heather Caldwell

Nineties Night

Lights and sound thrummed through the shoe-box of a club. Violent neon beams flashed out across the smoky air. Apparently, those in the prime of life at the turn of the 20th century had the idea that lasers were ‘cool’ and ‘rad’, and not highly dangerous weapons.

“Come on, Viv, come dance!”

The shout came from a figure attired in a hideous clash of neon and plaid.

“I don’t know what that is,” I shouted back, “but it is not dancing.”

“It’s called twerking,” said the boy in neon/plaid, who was called Tobi, “and it was a supped popular dance move in the 90s.”

“Twerking is from the 2010s, moron.” Adele offered.

“What makes you the expert, anyway?”

“My grandma told me about it.”

“Come on, Addy, your grandma’s crazy. She still thinks public nudity is weird.”

“She’s not crazy, she’s just a little old fashioned.”

I had had enough. I left my half-drunk Smirnoff Ice on the sticky bar-top and wandered through the clammy crowd on dancers – metallic clothing and the tiny gems on velour garments occasionally catching the light. I needed to get out of that madhouse.

I take the hover-square up to ground level. As I walked down the shiny street walled with advertisement screens, I tried to shake the club from my head. How did people ever think those were desirable? Or that alcopops were palatable? To what pronoun was the listener supposed to ‘get jiggy wit’?

 

(25/2/17: ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit it’)

Heather Caldwell