Saturday 24 June 2023

'Things Only Birds Know' by Karen Jones

You’re at the open window feeding your anti-depressants to the birds again. Bored. Curious. Malevolent. It doesn’t matter which. No one will ever know.

You’re standing on the chair by the bed – the too soft bed, the too small bed – watching the pills skitter down the slope to the spotless gutter. You shouldn’t have come back to the village. The women who were old when you were young are still here, still pulling tartan shopping trolleys behind them, still sucking mints that stick in their false teeth, still spreading lies like bird seed at the cenotaph.

You hear the family – your family – downstairs, talking about what to do with, for, about you. You want to tell them it’s okay to leave you, to go tend to the sheep, feed the hens, check on the scarecrow. To go and do the things they can control, the things they understand. Nourish, nurture, care. But not you. Leave you to you.

You want to scream, "Gies peace, eh? Jist gies peace!" You laugh as the old tongue creeps back into your head and out of your mouth. So long since you’ve admitted to anyone where your roots lie. But your roots do lie. This is no longer you. “Ah ken fine it isnae,” you whisper in your childhood voice to the cold air.

Downstairs they wait for you to give in, bleed sorrow, beg forgiveness. They have cures for your curse. They have the priest poised, pious. They have the patience to win if you let them.

You climb up, shift-slide onto the ledge, step-slip onto the tiles, tip-toe to the edge, dreep down to the ground. Bored. Curious. Malevolent. It doesn’t matter which. You run, gulping, laughing. No one will ever know where or why. Except the birds.


Congratulations to our 2023 Pushcart Prize Nominees!

We are delighted to nominate the following FlashFlood stories to the 2023 Pushcart Prize: ' The Doll House ' by Nathan Alling Long &...