We were told to go outside. Use our imaginations. Look into the undergrowth and imagine something or someone being there.
With the others, I exited the room and walked out across the lawn, eyes pinched against the glare of sunlight. I could smell meadow sweet and cut grass. Bees hummed, pitch-perfect round the honeysuckle. I saw a likely patch of weeds, dark under a hedge, away from the rest of the group. I crouched down and waited.
A fairy, no a hobbit, a tiny blue dragon, a fat black and white cat with a dead rat in its jaws. But no - it was none of these. It was small and round like a pebble, but the colour wasn't quite right - just a little too pink for a stone - not pink enough for a petal.
I stretched out my arm through the twigs, brambles and nettles. Extending my index finger, I made contact.
The skin recognises itself in an instant and my finger tip, at once, recognised another.
I kept the scream behind my teeth. No. It can't be. I backed away and looked around for someone to tell me, 'No - don't be silly - it's a pebble. Yes it is a funny shade of pink isn't it.' Or 'No - it's a leaf from a pussy willow. That's funny - you thought it was a finger!' But there was no one there. There was only the finger.
Then, with a shake of soil, a whole hand reaching, clutching at the space in front of me. It locked tight around my shin bone and pulled with such strength as is only known in the centre of the earth.
I slipped under. My mouth packed with soil, my eyelids pinched down hard. My limbs twisted like tree-roots, my chest compacted.
Now all that's left is the tip of my finger - looking a little bit like a petal or a pebble but slightly too pink or not pink enough.
We are delighted to nominate the following FlashFlood stories to the 2023 Pushcart Prize: ' The Doll House ' by Nathan Alling Long &...
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