I was celebrating when the world began to end.
It was my birthday. The night before, my mother discovered a dented piñata in a dusty corner of the local grocery store. She bartered with the stockboy and purchased the papier-mâché donkey with quarters she should have used on laundry. The next morning, after rigging it up in the only remaining tree in the yard, she called out, saying she had a surprise for me.
I had just emerged from the doorway of the shelter and glimpsed the donkey when my brothers and their friends sped past me and tore into it, spilling its paper-wrapped guts onto the brown grass. I dodged through the boys, grabbed a piece of candy, and carefully peeled the wrapper off with my dirty fingernails. I could taste the treat even before I put it in my mouth, those white and orange swirls of vanilla and sugar and artificial fruit perfect for the sticky-sweet summer day.
My older sister walked towards me with outstretched arms, holding a crown made of construction paper and shiny bits. When she crowned me, I felt like magic extended from her fingertips down to the base of my spine, giving me a touch of her enviable grace. Maybe she was right, I thought, maybe turning ten was the landmark she claimed it was, a day I would never forget.
My mother slipped in behind us quietly. I looked at her and noticed, not for the first time, that she had my sister’s eyes, only sadder. Mother handed me a cardboard tube which I initially mistook for a container of biscuits. She told me it was a party popper, and reminded me of the film I enjoyed so much with the scene that took place on New Year’s Eve. It had never occurred to me that the object was available for other occasions. Mother gently pointed me towards the edge of the property, where the yard brushed up against the weather-worn concrete, and instructed me to point it away from everyone else before I activated it.
With their encouragement, I slowly, cautiously took steps away from my family. I pointed the popper up, into the smoke and the sky and the telephone wires, and my gift exploded, purging glitter which danced on the air with the ash.
It was beautiful.
It was breathtaking.
And then it was over.
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.