Flash Fiction April 2020
My daily contribution to the thirty-words-or-less competition run by Writers Victoria.
‘Ah, my favourite,’ she exclaimed as the fish head curry arrived. ‘You first.’
A half-submerged eyeball considered me.
I stood up. ‘Maybe we are not meant for each other.’
The bowler began his innocuous run-up.
His arm came over, the ball dollied towards me, pitched, spun, went past my bat.
Concentrate? My foot!
I’m just not good enough.
Intense pain broke through the dull anaesthetic cloud, when a short, violent tug returned my dislocated big toe from under the other four to its rightful position.
Shrieks of indignation transformed to wretched pleas. But the universe had finally lost patience. In a blur, calamity after calamity befell the species that thought it ruled all it surveyed.
Strident preacher: ‘Lord, banish this abominable scourge.’
Tiny voice: ‘Can God kill the virus?’
Same tiny voice to nodding parent, ‘Then why did he create it?’
Cough from behind: ‘Hocus-pocus’.
When the black descended, our eyes were rendered useless. We’d have to wait for the blind guides to escort us to our quarters. They made a killing every night.
The frenetic strings subside. A hush. I hear a pin drop. Then a lush, gorgeous melody rises, swirls, and bathes the concert hall in a perfumed haze. Ecstasy. Tchaikovsky’s sixth.
I have covered the mirror to my past. Bitterness and regret no longer seep into the present and tarnish my future. My looking glass now reflects nothing back at me.
Crisp, icy air hit my lungs. I gasped, then gawked at towering majesty I could almost touch. But climbers winding ant-like up snow-clad slopes suggested the peak was hours away.
When we approached at moonrise, the battlefield appeared enshrouded in darkness. Suddenly, it turned into a sea of dancing light as fireflies mingled with the glistening lenses of staring corpses.
We could blame myopia for his inability to see the approaching catastrophe while it remained in the distance. But did myopia also stop him from heeding the farsightedness of others?
Much as they sank our hearts and hopes, converging vultures showed us the way to the final resting place of beloved friends we’d planned to meet on the Indo-Gangetic plain.
‘No, he’s mine.’
The sharp rebuke drove her cousins away.
She rushed up and wrapped her arms around me.
I basked in the privilege of being loved by a child.
‘Out,’ I called.
He rushed over. ‘Where’s the mark?’
I pointed. His sneer said ‘liar’.
His partner’s next serve smashed into his back. He whelped in pain.
‘Bullseye,’ I whispered.
‘Can you read the letters on that ship?’
‘Just beyond the heads.’
‘I can’t see a ship.’
‘Here, wear my glasses.’
That’s when I discovered I was short-sighted.
The fielder enjoyed a boundary reverie while the middle hogged the action. A scream of ‘catch it!’ galvanised him, but, alas, too late. It ended his peripheral role in proceedings.
His brilliant mathematical mind pondered the mound of dust and fluff his broom had assembled on the kitchen floor. What next? Hesitant, vague, shrugging, he swept it under the fridge.
Determined to puncture his vanity, she said ‘What’s the point of laser treatment? It might smooth out your wrinkles, but your dark, evil heart will still show on your face.’
Will it be realism today? Finally?
He sketches, nods, squeezes paint.
Brushes fly between palette and canvas.
The drift from realism begins. Unnoticed until too late.
Oh well, another abstract.
The waterpipe. Broken.
Under the spotlight. Local kids.
People rage. ‘Electrify it, wrap barbed wire, whip the brats.’
A kid suggests, ‘Make the pipe strong enough to swing from it.’
The door swung open.
The swagger suggested a possible podium finish.
The sway suggested hard celebration.
Asking Mum for a loan to repair the car suggested a chequered career, still.
His presence stoked longing for what I’d never have; his absence fuelled panic that I’d lose what I already had. He didn’t know he was the centre of my universe.
He promised to stop. I knew he wouldn’t. I read it in his sneer, his puffed-out chest. He liked himself more when he was drunk. I would lose this battle.
After just one shot, I knew I had his measure. But how could I beat him on his pool table, in his home, sipping his single malt? I graciously folded.
A fish head attached to its backbone twitched. She froze, her bulging eyes riveted on it. It twitched again. She fled from the table, screaming she’d never eat sashimi again.
The renowned pianist, who rarely practised, bemoaned his upcoming concert.
‘Mozart forced me to practise.’
‘Why?’ asked his friend.
‘I have nowhere to hide from the clarity his music demands.’
You stole it from me long ago. You’ve aggressively hung onto it and created a distorted perception that you own it. But make no mistake, you are still a thief.
The piano loomed. The effort to gather my wits became more desperate. I sat, unnerved, mind blank. My hands took over, hovered briefly and began to play. Without a blemish.
I won Benjamin’s heart. He commandeered my lap, my bed, my life. Too late I fixated on his health. As kidney failure drained his life, his love still shone brightly.
He moves. My turn. I stare at the board. My strategy’s in disarray. I try to focus, but that pesky clock comes in the way. Blitz chess ain’t for me.