Saturday, 26 June 2021

'A Promise is a Promise' by Abi Hennig

Arthur promised her he would come back. Towards the end, he considered reincarnating as everything from crocodile to cockatoo. She blamed the morphine. He finally settled on starling, eyes wide as he watched them flit, rose to rhododendron.

In spring, Ellen scattered his ashes in the sea, dusting the flow of foam with speckles of grey. Each day, as buds unfurled and the world began its slow awakening, she returned to the water’s edge, sinking toes in sand, stretching back to scan the sky. He took his time.

Through summer she stood, eyes dried by the breeze, tongue stuck out to savour the salt-tang of sea. Sometimes she’d spy a silhouette, a fluttering kiss smeared against the sky, and she’d blink, and it would be gone.

As the nights began to draw in, darkness hugging ever closer to the hemlines of day, she scoured the wild blue yonder, its surface purple-bruised. Birds came in pairs, twisting, turning in the air. She whooped and waved, sure her Arthur would spy her spinning on the sand.

Half a year passed. Ellen built cairns, scrawled billets-doux across the beach, sat happily on a blanket drinking from a thermos made for two. Starlings were gathering by then: in threes, fours, sometimes more, hovering like heartbeats across a blazing cyclorama as the sun sank deep beneath the edges of the sea.

Today, across the grazed-knee slash of sky, they come, just one or two at first, then more and more until a smattering of dots become a peppered swarm which swoops, swirls, paints pictures in the air: of kisses and cairns; of sprawling love letters and a blanket made for two. The murmuration slows, undulates gently, forms a hand, reaches down to Ellen, who raises her arm, and twirls in time, no longer alone.

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And the Flood abates....

That's it for this year's FlashFlood!  Huge thanks again to our writers, our readers, our editors , and everyone who submitted work....