My mother refused to sing lullabies or nursery rhymes. ‘Our lives are not that simple’, she said. Her preference was arias, laced with revenge.
Waves will carry The boats of men Who love me
Waves will crash Over the tyrants Who use me.
Wave goodbye. I am the sea. Endlessly.
Mother taught me that love can last a lifetime or a night-time. But it was a mortal who showed me that love can turn like the tide, leaving you stranded and helpless and alone.
He has humiliated me. Never again.
Beneath the full moon I watch him race to the shore, hand-in-hand with another, giggling with anticipation. As they enter the icy water I feel their bodies caress, merge, become one. I could do it now – knock them from their feet, crush them – but that’s too easy. I dip through the shadows to his fishing boat and drop a rope on the deck, innocuous but for three small knots; each a spell, born of a broken heart, passed down for generations.
The next morning, after casting off, he unpicks the first knot. Sunlight bursts through the clouds, waking the sluggish shoals. He undoes the second, and light rain ripples the surface, hiding him from the creatures below. Perfect conditions for my fisherman, but that won’t satisfy him. Right on cue, there goes the third, summoning the freak gust of wind that smashes the bow, breaks the keel, and snaps his neck.
Yes, it's that time again. We're back and we're getting ready to flood the internet with flash-fictions to celebrate National Flash-Fiction Day on Saturday 16th June 2018.
The rules are the same as ever, we are open for submissions for just one week. Stories should be no more than 500 words (not including the title) and should be on whatever theme you fancy. You can submit up to three entries, and there is no cost.
7 editors (one each day) will read your work, and make their decisions, and then the deluge begins at midnight on the 16th.
I’m going to ask her tonight, definitely. Dad said, you’re not even twelve son, what’s next – extra pocket money for johnnies? Mum told him not to be vulgar, then smiled at me; that smile that makes me want to yank her to the knees by the hair: shout, I’m not a baby, Mum.
It’s in the sports hall like always, but this year they’ve got a proper DJ, not just one of the dads. There she is, all curled hair and sprayed-on glitter. I go to tap her shoulder, but James and Jeremy, in the opposite corner, look at me all, why are you going up to a girl? So, before she turns around, I jump on her back: mime a lasso at them one-handed. Dig my knees into her skinny hips and breathe in marshmallows. Then I’m falling forwards. I put out my hands but my landing is broken. I roll off. And her blood’s on my knees. More of it trapped in the grooves of my trainers.
What happened? says Mr Miller, with a face like a father’s instead of a Head’s.
And she looks at me through the bloodied fingers at her nose. …
Something in the way Mavis Mahoney says her name, Sylvia, could send her to join her Mama, above the clouds she loved staring at for hours on a bed her feet dangled over, without looking back. She keeps the echoes of her name playing in her mind while she takes her place center stage, sees the crowd for the first time, eyes hoping to hold her again.
She finds Mavis among the men too tired to fight for a place in a world that never wanted them. Among women worn down from mending or carrying their wounds. Even in all that misery, Mavis smiles, raises her hands and starts clapping until everyone pulls themselves away from drowning in reflections staring back at them through half empty glasses.
She raises the mouthpiece of her clarinet to spit shined lips, lets her breath flow through the barrel and slide down the upper and lower joints while her fingers stroke and press cold, silver keys. Surrendering the vibrations of her breath into woodwind instruments to pocke…