Click, click, click. My father is switching off lights. He is full of words: waste, conservation, budget, money. My mother sits at the kitchen table. She doesn’t look up from Good Housekeeping. I carry picture books from the living room into the kitchen and sit beside her. Click. The living room goes dark.
I’m lost in an unfamiliar house, feeling my way through the darkness. A cautious shuffle--right, left, right. Knees bang against something hard. Table? Couch? Fingers recognise plush faces and button noses. It’s my bed. The closet door creeps open with a horror movie squeak. A figure lurches towards me. It’s my grandmother, her outstretched finger taps a beat. Bad, bad, bad.
Everything is grey. Not black, as I wanted it to be, the afternoon sun is too bright. My hand skims along an uneven wall. I follow a curve and turn down the corridor. When my mother grabs a shoulder, I open my eyes. ‘Are you a little blind girl today?’ She laughs and releases me. Lids down, I continue my journey.
A gas lantern hisses on the picnic table. Beyond our yellow circle, I see light spots dance in the trees. My father turns off the lantern. I hold my breath and the light spots come closer. Fingers slipping between boards, I grip the table. A firefly lands on one hand and pulses green.
I’m stumbling again. Arms outstretched, I move them from side-to-side in an arc. There is only emptiness and gloom. I squat, touch the ground, feel grass. Five steps forward. There is only emptiness. I am falling, falling. Wind rushes into my open mouth, scattering the scream.
We are delighted to nominate the following FlashFlood stories to the 2023 Pushcart Prize: ' The Doll House ' by Nathan Alling Long &...
CHICKEN +50 Buttermilk fried, the apogee of chicken, its chickeniest chickenness, rich gold with bite and crunch and tendern...
In case you missed any of the pieces we appeared during the 2023 FlashFlood, here's an index to everything. Happy Reading! ' They...
A shaft of sunlight fell across the worn herringbone floor, drawing his gaze upwards to the flawless blue sky beyond the row of windows, ...