Saturday, 26 June 2021

Debut Flash: 'Three Perceptions of the Winter Soup Kitchen at the Olde Church on the Hill' by Sarah Barnett

Mrs Cadaver-Jones edges towards the Church; it looms large and imposing. She isn’t fooled by its promise of sanctuary. ‘Pah!’ she spits the word into her woollen jumper; it reverberates through the moth holes, sour breath brushing her skin. A growl in her stomach reminds her hot soup beckons. The do-gooder will serve her, try to lure her into the flock with his smiles. He’ll fail. She will accept the bed on such a bitter night while watching her brittle back. Creak left, creak right, as fractured dreams come.

Gabriel Hope approaches the Church – a haven of promise, safety, warmth.  A holy embrace to ward off fear. A hot meal, a warm bed, away from the piercing icicle of winter. His eyes are warm with gratitude as the angel serves him his broth. This night, sleep will come without fear; or dread of thieves in the dark; or a kick from a privileged soul spouting cruel, venomous drivel. Cocooned in the blanket, he will dream of his salvation, knowing it will come as his prayers grow in strength.

Morticia North assesses the spire, which stabs a blackened sky. The old church beckons her into its cold vaults, where spirits whisper through the creaking eaves. Dusty, faded cushions offer no comfort on the pews. The man stirs the cauldron, slops the witches’ brew into the plastic bowl. She clutches it like a Dickensian orphan, drinks deep. The potion works its spell, almost enough to quell the fear. She edges to the makeshift bed and hopes the blanket protects from the apparitions that haunt the crevices. Yet the ghouls creep under the hessian and infiltrate her dreams.

In the chill morning, the three emerge; they see the crocuses have broken through the ice. Soon Spring will cast them out again.

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