'No Place Like Place' by Joanna Lamprey
‘Told you we had time before the train arrived.’ He was still breathless, but keeping his voice light, hiding the intensity of his feelings.
‘I’ll miss flying.’ She was staring up into the sky, faintly apricot-tinged at this time of day, watching the black specks that drifted in lazy circles so far overhead their twenty-foot wingspans looked like dots.
‘Yuh?’ Brad pushed himself up on one elbow to look into at her perfect profile, calm and remote. ‘Crabby tourists? Crowded planes?’
‘No.’ She flicked him a glance. ‘I had a glider, back home. The thermals must be fantastic up there.’
He lay back beside her to stare upwards, the bracken bristly under his thin jacket. ‘Don’t need engines for a glider. I could adapt tools, build you one, if it would make you happy. I want to make you happy.’
‘Still got to get it up there to fly.’ She shook off the mood of melancholy and looked across affectionately. ‘You do make me happy. Place is bearable because of you.’
‘Place is great. Oh, I know you fret about the life you left behind but hon, trust me, you’ll love it.’ She didn’t reply and he plucked one of the wing flowers that grew everywhere in profusion. ‘Talk about flying. Watch this.’ He carefully pinched off a petal pair, then threw it lightly into the air. The curved petals quivered, caught the light breeze, and soared upwards and he glanced at her rapt face. ‘That’s how they pollinate and spread. They fly. Pretty good, huh?’
She stared up at the linked petals as they swooped, danced, slid sideways and away. She was so absorbed he could stare openly at her, still only half believing this lovely girl was with him. She pushed herself up onto her elbows, absently pulling her opened blouse back across her breasts, still staring up at the petals as they rose higher.
‘Brad! That design – you could make those!’ He looked dubious and she shook her head impatiently. ‘Are there pieces of bark big enough?’
‘You saw the trees. Further inland they’re bigger than redwoods.’ He was suddenly interested, caught up in the logistics of the problem. ‘Each petal would need to be, what, fifteen feet?’
‘At least that, but that shape scoops air like nothing I ever saw. ’ She was authoritative, knowledgeable. ‘I know it’s light, and you said it was strong. Could it be done?’
He stared into space, thinking, then grinned. ‘I think it can.’ He sat up, excited. ‘You’re a Place natural, you are. Two months you’ve been here and you already grasped the properties of the bark, and adapting ideas from local wildlife.’
She grinned back. ‘And you’re the best steam moulder on Place. If anyone can turn my ideas into reality, you can. Partners?’
His reply was drowned by the arrival of the steam train, brakes screeching. Its arrival pushed a rush of air over them and the petals spiralled ecstatically upwards.
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.