Nina calls the following night. I wish she’d stayed at home. Isn’t that where the bereaved are meant to be found, behind closed curtains, waiting for us to visit them?
Not Nina. Not your widow.
“I thought you should know: Richard was found dead last night.”
“Come in,” I tell her, if only because it gives me reason to turn away, to remove evidence of my grief from the porch light’s glare. Am I supposed to know yet?
In the lounge I switch on a solitary lamp, stand with my back towards it. Yes, I’m sure – by now I would have heard.
“I’m so sorry, please sit down. Sorry for your loss, I mean…”
Ignoring the chair I’ve indicated, Nina takes a seat on my sofa. Her gaze drifts over a stain on the cushion beside her. A stain I’ve been unable to shift.
I escape to the kitchen to make tea, and retrieve my muted phone from the cutlery drawer. Eleven missed calls. I glance towards the back door, where last night’s shoes lie, cleaned of the mud from my cross-country trek home. Above them: my jacket, and along one shoulder seam a tear, made as I wrestled gear lever and handbrake to return you, clothed and decent, to the driver’s seat. It is a tear I must mend as soon as Nina is gone.
Standing over the kettle, I balance Gordon Ramsay across the switch and take a slug from my brandy glass. I have maybe five minutes before the kettle boils dry. Five minutes in which to bury all recollection of your agony; to erase the memory of my battle to save you. Five minutes to remind myself that now Belize can never be.
Nina sits, legs crossed, businesslike, a pen and notebook in her hands. From the doorway, over her shoulder, I read a series of names: Amanda, Bethany, Carole, Debs… Most are mutual friends or acquaintance, and a peppering of ticks suggests some mission is in progress. My own name waits, half way down the page. As yet unticked.
“Did you know Debs was planning a trip to Belize?” she asks. Tea slops over the rim of the mug I’m carrying, scalding my fingers and spilling onto the carpet. Nina’s head turns: another stain?
I make it across the room, manage to deposit the mug on the coffee table before her. “Such a coincidence,” she continues. “Apparently Julia’s all set to go too. Imagine. Debs and Julia, both off to Belize, totally independently of one another. Personally I never fancied it. How about you, Miranda? Ever been tempted by Belize?”
I avert my eyes from her gaze, make no effort to shake my head.
Nina stands up. “Must be going. So many people still to be told about Richard.”
In the glare of my porch she leans towards me, her hand on my forearm. “I recommend caustic soda,” your widow tells me. “Makes any old stain a thing of the past.”
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?
I knew a man who owned 150 items. One hundred of them were books. He was extremely specific about this number. Two plates, two bowls, one pot, one pan. One squeeze bottle of liquid soap he used for the counters, the clothes, his remaining hair. One Bobby Goldsboro record, but no turntable. He said one of the songs, Honey, had always moved him.
When his dog passed away, he replaced it. A plant; why didn’t I say plant? Although it is true about his dog.
I had the idea he was spiritual and wise. He was old. His sparseness was a turn-on. And the red rug on the floor beside his bed, so pleasing. I pleased him when I knelt on it. His framed, black-inked Eye of Horus lent the place a tang of the mystic.
It lasted seven weeks. One evening, I thought I’d pitch in and empty the garbage. He was out, walking the replacement dog. The bag was surprisingly full. I clocked the contents: the detritus of fast food wolfed when I was at work, eight squishy condoms (curtsy), and much-thumbed porn mag feat…
Day 1: Beginnings and Endings
Welcome to the FlashFlood Advent Calendar! Today we bring you the first of twenty-five days of flashy prompts, so it's fitting that we're thinking about beginnings....
You know those amazing first lines, the ones that grab you by the throat and don't let go of you until you've read the rest of the story (and even then they linger)? Things like:
“The road is covered in ghost.”—Jane Monson, 'The Unmended',Speaking Without Tongues“Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared.” —Sandra Cisneros, 'Those Who Don't', The House on Mango Street“Peony has whiskers; she has a pointy face and a tail made out of blue
raffia; she's messing about in boats and dabbling-up-tails-all, and I am
in love.” —C.G. Menon, 'Watermelon Seeds',Love Across A Broken Map: Short Stories from The Whole Kahani“To lift yourself out of a miserable mood, even if you have to do it by strength of will, should be eas…
Flash Flood is OPEN for submissions until Thursday 9 May 2019 at 23:59 BST (22:59 UTC)
The aim is simple: wherever you are in the world, we want your best
flash fictions. The word limit is 500 words, but that's the only rule.
Any subject, any genre, any style, any perspective, anything as long as
Our guidelines have changed this year, so please have a read over our submission guidelines before you send your work. If you'd like, you can also read about this year's editors.
We look forward to reading your words!