Flash Fiction: How Much More?

But really, how many designer shoes do we need?

How many more different sizes of technology to connect us to the world?

We’ve already filled up the sky with bricks and lines, splitting the horizon into tiny segments, isn’t it enough yet?

How many new ways to wash your hair? Or clean your teeth?

New ways to excercise, new management restructuring,

Can’t we just leave it all for a little while?

Curl up in the crook of a tree,

And sleep?

Flash Fiction: Snug

He curled up snug, while the wind howled elsewhere. Smelling a little of feet and vinegar, chortling while he hunkered down to his duvet, marvelling at the all the joys a life could hold.

He found it safer not to own anything worth stealing, to keep his surroundings stable. He made sure to avoid reaching out with delicate tendrils of affection that could so easily break. His heart had been broken once, an unreturned smile that he had proffered to a stranger and snatched back too late. Never to forget. He kept his heart wrapped in wodge of fat, a parcel made of a thousand, thousand fish finger dinners and chips.

He kept his attention still, a tiny kingdom without much thought where he could rule supreme. The television kept him busy. He had all he could ever need.

Flash Fiction: The Cult of Zac

Zac had swagger and grace. He wore his ego like a crown and his hair like a dandy. He was his own creation, a walking work of art. Missing a vital component from his integrity and with an arrogance borne of luck not bravery, he had no reason to question his role in the world. He was on top, because that is where he deserved to be.

“Nothing can stop a man with the right mental attitude,” he would say; he had it written on his business cards, embossed with gold. And nothing could stop Zac, because if charm didn’t work, he could buy his way through.

As someone who grew up with money, he never needed to seek out more. Business opportunities simply appeared when he met up with rich friends for luncheon.

“Nothing can stop a man with the right mental attitude,” he said, wondering why the unemployed didn’t simply take one of the many opportunities that must appear with every meal. He assumed it was laziness.

His demands for adoration were always met by a noisy crowd. They gained nourishment from loving someone so beautiful and he absorbed their love like soaking up rays of the sun. It was a symbiosis.

If some unbeliever dared to criticise his spoilt soul and ignorance, Zac would dip his head and look up coyly through his eyelashes, in a fake gesture of humility. Then with a wave of his hand he would summon his worshipers to snarl and snap like a pack of dogs at the witless serf.

As he strutted in distressed denim and flicked his quiff, he had no idea that his ego was outgrowing his brain, a tragic degenerative condition with no cure. At first nobody noticed that the twinkle in his eye sometimes became a blank stare.

But soon his naturally quick mind was smothered by his self-belief until he was barely able to articulate a thought or choose a new hair product.

“Nothing can stop a man…” he would say, and then forget the rest, a look of desperation lightly grazed his good looks.

Luckily his adoring fans knew his opinions well enough to voice them for him, and his team of personal assistants could maintain his coiffured exterior.

“Nothing…”he would plead, as they fussed around him, ignoring his distress and focussing on the quiff. There was no need for change, the cult of Zac continued in earnest.

Flash Fiction: In Spines Forever

graffiti cactus (2)

He carved her name on a cactus leaf, that way she would know just how much he loved her, would love her forever. She kissed him and he felt all his fevered hopes collide with  reality. He wanted to be lost in her arms, the moment that he had daydreamed about, but he was only thinking of the spines in his fingers.

Weren’t some cactus spines so tiny that they could embed deep in the fingers impossible to remove? Couldn’t they last for years, decades even? Could he really love her longer than the time it took for the splinters to ease themselves from deep in his flesh? Just that sense of time stretching out ahead gave him chills. To listen to her donkey laugh, to pander to her petulant whims and soothe her tantrums; all the while the cactus spines would be pricking at his fingertips. Forever seemed like no time at all, but a year? A decade? He panicked and ran, leaving his love behind him.

Short story: Insidious Demands

– Hey there pretty lady, are you sitting all alone? A beautiful lady like you shouldn’t be alone.

– Oh, erm, hello, I’m just waiting for my friends, they’ll be here soon. Any minute now.

– Why don’t I keep you company then, hmm? You look like you could do with some company, just until they get here.

– Well, um, I’m not sure… it’s a bit of a school reunion, you see? Not an official one, just the old gang getting together again. I’m really quite nervous, it’s been so long.

– That’s why you need me to talk to, make a new friend while you’re waiting for the old ones.

– Well maybe, I mean. Maybe they’ll think it’s rude if I’m talking to someone else…

– Hey now, you shouldn’t be worrying about that, when we’ve got this chance to get to know each other, hmm?

– Well, I suppose. And it’s the kind of thing that we used to do back then, just start chatting to some random stranger. Kirsty especially, I could tell you some crazy stories. Whenever we took the train we’d end up talking to some boys or making friends with an old tramp.

– Well that’s great, I think you and me already have a real connection, don’t you? How about I buy you a drink?

–  Oh I don’t want to start drinking yet. Once the others get here, then I imagine it will be a free for all. More alcohol than you can shake a stick at, you know? Not that we were alcoholics, but we did like a drink.

– You don’t need to be so uptight about it, just have a drink with me.

– Oh Kirsty would love you. She did like a pushy fella who’d buy her a drink, she liked to play with them, she liked the risk. Oh, I can’t wait to see the old gang, I haven’t seen them in years, not that it should matter, I mean when you’re friends with someone, that’s it for life, isn’t it? They say your teenage friends are your greatest friends, right? Didn’t they say that in a film once? We were all very different back then though, and there were reasons we stopped being friends…

– Right, well that’s interesting…

– Kirsty especially got out of hand, not violent exactly, but, well there were incidents. Not that it was her fault, if I’d had that man as my father I’d have done a lot more than throw bottles at a car. Of course it would be all different if we were kids now, we’d spend our whole lives on the phone chatting to paedophiles. And you know kids today, the only time they actually look at one another is when they need to take a selfie, or a we-lie, or is it an us-y? I don’t know why they need to keep making up new words, like there aren’t enough words to deal with already. I mean there’s a whole dictionary full of the things.

– How about I get us that drink…

– Anyway, I was telling you about Kirsty, you’ll like her, all the boys did at school. It’s odd because she was never that fastidious about personal hygiene, but then they say attraction is all about pheromones, so maybe she just didn’t wash hers off as much. You’d think the feet smell would mask the pheromones though wouldn’t you?

– Mmm.

– Fastidious, now there’s an interesting word that kids today never use. They’re too busy with their OMGs and YOLOs. But anyway, Kirsty, apparently she’s a big shot consultant now, earning a fortune in the city. Well it’s not really surprising, she was always clever. Clever and bored, that was her problem, school just wasn’t enough to occupy her, she could pass exams without even studying, lucky cow.

– Well that’s great, but maybe…

– Anyway, we all found each other on Facebook, it’s amazing isn’t it? Modern technology? Fifteen years, all five of us scattered across the globe. All going about our business never expecting to see each other again. Then a few clicks of the mouse and there you are, the whole gang together. Kirsty, Jennifer, Archisha, little Sarah and big Sarah. Of course big Sarah is not so big now. She actually looks fantastic. Not that she didn’t when she was a teenager, but, well, you know what it’s like for larger girls, it’s tough. Except it’s probably fine now, now that obesity is so common. Big Sarah would probably be considered quite svelte. Quite svelte Sarah we’d have to call her. Although I expect we’d be arrested under the Political-Correctness-Gone-Mad Act for it. You know at my son’s school they actually have a points system for bullying? Like with driving, you get too many points for picking on other kids and you have to take an anti-bullying test. Well, I said to the teacher, that’s just another form of bullying isn’t it? You’re bullying my son now, how about you take a test? How about I set that damn test? And yes, I did swear, but you can’t let these teachers push you around, can you?

– Ok, um, I really need to go now…

– Oh sorry, sorry, I got totally side-tracked, I was telling you about the gang, wasn’t I? Well there was Jennifer, sweet, mousy Jennifer, all the boys who didn’t go for smelly Kirsty, went for Jen. I never really understood why, I mean, she was pretty in a bland, unthreatening way, but there was no spark to her. Maybe that’s what they liked, someone who’d make them feel sparky by comparison. Boys don’t like to try too hard do they?

– Lady, let go of my arm…

– But I haven’t told you about Archisha and she’ll be here any minute. And hers is such a lovely story. When she joined the gang she was much like Jennifer, mousy. She followed us around with those big eyes, trying to make jokes, but she wasn’t funny, just awful. Then one of the boys took a shine to her and then she started to take a shine to herself, you know? I mean, we helped her out with make-up, lent her clothes and so on, but it was a total transformation, she blossomed. Became a bit full of herself to be honest, and she didn’t stop cracking those awful jokes, but the boys would just laugh and laugh, trying to impress her. I suppose they thought she was exotic, or is that impoliticly correct now too?

– I need to go, please let me go…

– Yes, that’s right, you run along now. Run right along.

Don’t look.

The memory is like an ache in my teeth and a twist under each moment. Like a sodden, dirty rag wrapping my feet to a stumble. The abyss hangs sac-like below my eyes, beckoning me to throw hope away and climb inside. But in a wink and shimmy the bone dead is up and walking. I freeze my fear and keep on keeping on.

The memory is like a distant hammering that I can ignore if I keep the music loud. An interruption that warps my words when I speak, so I try not to speak. Like a phantom tickling my toes, but powerless to hurt unless I believe. I can’t believe, I stare ahead.

The memory is definitely gone and my feet are flat on the floor so I can’t fall down. It’s gone and I’m a busy, busy bee with things to do and see. Like the juice of rotting meat seeped into the world, but cleaned and leaving no stain, it’s gone. Like it was never here at all.