"Breaking" by Jenny Woodhouse

‘But nothing’s broken.’
‘Only my reputation with the Choral Society.’  His voice was quiet, even, controlled. 
‘It was nothing.  Just an accident.  I lost my concentration.’  She was crying now.
‘I don’t call that nothing.’  His voice was rising, modulating through counter-tenor to soprano.  ‘You muffed the first bar and ruined my entry.  They’ll never give me another solo!’
The whole restaurant was trying not to look at them.  I woke up my phone, checked my emails.  So did my companion.  At the next table a family group talked on as if nothing was happening.  Another table leaned inwards, like a wagon circle.  The waitress shifted her feet, pen in one hand, pad in the other.
As the duet rose to its furious climax, silence spread through the restaurant like ripples in a pond.  Even the principals became aware of it, and paused to look at each other.  Maybe they were drawing breath for another exchange; maybe they realised their private life was the only topic of interest that lunchtime.
Noise irrupted into the silence.  A single sharp crash of tray on floor, followed by a jagged crescendo.  Waves of sound spreading from the epicentre.  Then the after-shocks, in a diminuendo: a clatter of cutlery, a tinkling of glass.  A coda of shattering sherds.  Finally silence returned.  It had a different character now, forced, as if nobody wanted to be the first to break it.
Then he laughed.
‘Nothing broken, you said?’
She stopped snuffling into her handkerchief, looked up at him and, slowly, began to giggle.
It was some time before anyone in the restaurant could speak, let alone eat.

FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015. In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories? More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.


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