"The Long Flight" by Rhoda Greaves
They ask if you have anything to say. You look up towards us in the gallery, and I hope you can feel me there with you, holding you. I think you’re going to speak, just for me. And I’m trembling. I want you to. But I don’t want to be recognised. Not that I’d deny you. Not even here. My aunt and uncle lent me the money for the flight, even though they thought I was crazy to come. I spent it drinking mini wines and trying not to tell the nice man in the smart grey suit next to me, why I was travelling to the States alone. My parents gave me the money last time. But made me pay it back when they found out why I’d gone.
You shake your head, and my heart settles its rhythm. The journalists take out their pads and scribble, and to my right she flops into her hands, weeping. An older man props an arm awkwardly around her shoulders, but instead of it soothing her, she just gets louder.
‘My babies,’ she wails. And as she pulls her hand from her mouth, tendrils of snot contaminate the arms of her long black jacket: she clutches herself in a hug. Pushing her silver-threaded hair back from her face, she looks towards you, her cheeks streaked with sticky black makeup. And I can’t understand what you ever saw in her. ‘Why aren’t you sorry?’ she shouts at you. It comes out a slur.
‘Evil son of a bitch,’ the old man says, like he’s just taken a gulp of raw sewage.
Evil? I just know you as you: letter writer, cat lover, lover. You’d said that if you’d been granted one final wish, it would have been to spend half an hour alone with me, so we could be like the Bible says; as one. Your face remains impassive. You can’t hear them. But if you could?
Another woman, a younger, better kept version of her, kneels at her side and offers a tissue, which she blows so hard I almost tell her to shush.
You stand. You walk proudly like you told me you would. And I want to tell all of them: ‘That’s my husband, you murderers.’
Do you think Tilly is missing you? Or already wrapped around the legs of some other poor soul, creating a stink for a saucer of milk? I look away. You’d warned me it would take longer than I’d think to make the pronouncement. More than just the flick of a switch to turn the body off. There are some like her, weeping for their own loss. And others. Men, whose blood-baying eyes shine in the falsely bright lights. I wrap my scarf a little tighter to better hide my face, then glance at my watch, and wait. For their cheers.
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.