The story of the taxi that takes you where you need to be rather than where you want to be finally came true for Nathan. Finally. “The story is true, it’s true” he shouted. “Please let me in. Please.” Inside the house a light came in. He banged on the door again. “The story’s true!” The door opened. “Hello again Nathan. I thought you would never come.” Nathan turned and tried and tried to run away.
First published on www.paragraphplanet.com on 17 April 2017
Jon was irate. “It’s a scam, I bet you. How stupid can people be? There’s something behind it. I’m sure I read about this. Some people say that Hemingway wrote it, others have researched it and say he certainly didn’t. So why’s it on the evening news website now? It’ll be someone trying to set up a sweet little scam – they’ll say they are crowdfunding for baby shoes for the workshy or writing flash fiction for charity or something like that and who knows where all the money will go? ‘After costs’, that’s what it’ll say, I bet you. For sale baby shoes (never worn). People are stupid.” He carries on, but Sophie isn’t listening any more. Behind him, silent tears stream down her face.
First published in For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never worn: A Collection of Flash Fiction Based on A Single Theme Buy it on Amazon here All royalties from sales of this book are to be donated to Make-A-Wish® UK Charity Registration Nos. (England & Wales) 295672 / (Scotland) SC037479
Jay tried cycling on ice and walking on windy cliff tops. Kay tried swinging from an oak branch and jumping over rivers. Then, and only then, they thought they would chance spending their lives together.
Now, whose day could he ruin today? Mrs Smith? She never cleaned up after her dog. Mrs Khan? She gave him a funny look when he walked by. Yes. Jimmy Mackenzie. He’d show him. He opened a new document, clutched his chest. His neighbours peered in through the window.
The printout on the publisher’s desk was his autobiography. One day, she thought, it could be famous and she could be rich. But only if the writer somehow, mysteriously, died. She looked at the nervous, eager man.
Yes. Yes, I think we can, she said.
My daughter’s name would have been Stefka. Stephanie or Stefania – we couldn’t agree – Francesca. Stefka. The k seemed pleasingly central European, when that was different and exotic. She would have been thirty today. Her name would have been Stefka.
Thirty. Me perhaps a grandad or maybe not – I would have been sure to say it did not matter either way, so long as she was happy. Now, knowing what I know now, I do not know what would have been best.
The sun was shining low on the horizon, just like a storybook sun. A twinge (is that the word?), then another. Quick! We need to go now! We piled into the car, the bag we had packed on the back seat, only twenty minutes to the hospital, I had measured it, we drove grinning and groaning and twinging. The sun shone low. Fifteen minutes later I drove across the junction.
Another two weeks later I woke up and Stefka and her mum were gone. As I learnt to walk again I leaned on the walker as I would lean on a pram and cried.
Thirty years and of course I still miss them, the one I had loved since I met her and the one I had loved since before she existed. Of course I do. People in this sort of story always do. But this is not a story. This is real life.
And that’s the thing about real life. There is no point to some stories. No point to the love, the creation, to the happiness and destruction.
So why am I telling you this? Why, today of all days? Because I can and I have to, even though there is no point. No point to the anger, the grief and denial.No point to it at all. But I can and I must, so I do.
There’s only one you, I said to your twin. You are my one and only.
A game of innocents, collecting flowers. Buckled shoes, smiles and hay fever sneezes. Then a cloud across the sun and cold shadow.
David put on his happy-to-help-tourists face, ready for the next words, where is castle, old town, queue for tattoo….
“- me pal, where’s North Bridge, the methadone clinic ken, the chemist?”
David wasn’t ready for this. It was August, after all, season of upside-down maps and disbelief at the steepness of stairs. He checked his wallet, phone. Idiot.
“Well, this one up at the top of the hill’s parallel to the Bridges so if you go up here and turn left and then right the next one’s the Bridges but I don’t know if the clin- the chemist is left or right -”
But the two men were gone, fast on thin legs, across the road through the traffic.
David breathed deeply and turned back towards the Grassmarket. Now, where were the tourists in distress?