Flash Fiction by Katy Naylor
Everywhere I walk, I trail a thread of forget-me-not blue. It unspools gently as I navigate each turn.
I go walking every day, the blue unwinding as I go. I walk to the night we sat by the river and laughed ourselves hoarse. I walk through the old allotment, where the plants you tended now grow in an ever-wilder tangle of green. I walk a land of sorrow. It’s a geography you’ll never know, even though every stile and gatepost is carved with your name.
I know the lack of you so well now. I have mapped out the space where your body should be, pored over the details of words that could have been said. The silence over breakfast, hanging thick in the air over your cup, is as heavy and as intimate as a kiss.
This morning I went to the market. Wound my way through zucchini, eggplant, runner beans. I stood smiling among the yellow squash and the broccoli, and I felt the knots in the blue begin to tug. Another small betrayal.
The blue still runs behind me. My knuckles are white with holding. I could almost let go, but I’m scared. When the thread finally frays, how will I find my way home?
The song of the siren calls to you.
Three months now since we moved out here, cardboard boxes rattling in the truck as we jolted down the winding road to the house by the water. Away from the city, from the smoke that still clings in our hair and our clothes, and the dirt that refuses to budge from under our fingernails. Our fresh start.
Often in the evenings, I look out the window over the quay. I see them out there as the moon rises. Always three, sitting placid on the rocks out in the middle of the water, the cold light shimmering in their scales. Their gaze does not seem to reach beyond each other, or the combs that they run through their long, wet hair.
When the water is still and the air is cool and soft, I never hear so much as a single note carried across on the breeze.
Once I took a little boat right out, up as close as I could to the rocks. Their calm eyes did not so much as flicker, and they remained quite silent.
You say that they draw you to them, that an invisible current runs between you. That to you, they sing.
You said the same back in the city. That the song was there in her eyes and her dress and the way she used her hands. That she’d wanted you to. That you deserved a second chance.
The song of the siren is a lie and we both know it. That doesn’t stop you swimming out there, night after night.
Miniature Golf World Tournament
It’s not a game for amateurs, you know. From the simple ramp and seesaw to the carousel where the ball is carried to the hole on the back of a bobbing horse, each new challenge needs a completely fresh approach.
There are three keys to success, if you’re going to stand a chance of competing for the title at the Hastings world championship. First is the angle. If you’re going to navigate that tiny Suez canal you need to make sure you are hitting as straight as they come. Then comes power. To traverse the waves of the model Pacific Ocean you’ll need a good firm swing. But not too firm: chip it too hard and you’ll bounce off the end of the mermaid’s tail and land in the grass, and then where will you be?
Finally of course there is drive. That’s what distinguishes your average day-tripper from the likes of me. The willingness to grind, to put putter to rubber and wrestle with miniature windmills and the carefully aligned buckets of sand for the hours you need to perfect your craft. It’s something I have in spades. There’s a ticket to Hastings with my name on it, and when I when I get there I’ll be 18 holes from proving that when it comes to this game I am the undisputed champion.
We’ve started leaving each other notes. Whose turn it is to get in the groceries, when the plumber’s coming, that sort of thing. Between my training schedule and the time you need to make the cut at clown school, it’s the only way we can be sure we’ll catch each other.
The first note about the state of the bedroom ceiling didn’t bother me much. Had I noticed the light dusting of plaster scattered over the floor last night? I couldn’t say I had. I was in the middle of getting my moat-to-drawbridge-to-tiny-battlements technique just right, and my mind wasn’t open to distractions.
Your next note was more urgent. You were quite sure. There was definitely plaster, flakes of it now, on our bedsheets in the morning. Could it be a family of birds in the attic? Squirrels perhaps?
I gave it some thought as I tackled a two-foot octopus. You may have a point of course. Maybe we should talk about it. But then the ball got tangled in tentacle number seven and I’ll confess I forgot all about it.
Your third note was written in block capitals. The flakes coming from the ceiling were falling faster, and growing in size. They were more like chunks than flakes, in fact. You were worried the ceiling wouldn’t hold out much longer. We need to take action NOW before the whole thing collapses. This last sentence was underlined several times.
I put it in my back pocket. Didn’t you realize? I was an inch, no, a hairsbreadth, away from mastering the triple barrel flip and making it through the dragon’s mouth to the quarter scale round table on the other side? Now was not the moment to be attending to the state of the ceiling.
It’s been six weeks now. Your last note said you needed space. Or rather, you needed somewhere where you could be free from worrying about the ceiling, about greasepaint and custard pies and oversized trousers. You needed to find a place where you could just be peaceful for a while, and someone who’d join you there. I imagine you loading your suitcase into your car, too small of course, and attempting to drive away before the bumpers and the doors fall off with a honk and a clatter to a ripple of applause.
The wind through the hole in the ceiling disturbs my sleep now, and I’ll often wake in the night wet from the rain. But I don’t have too much time to get wrung out about it. I’ve got miniature longship ramps to climb and dolls house kitchens to traverse. Hastings is waiting. I’m only a few short putts away.
Katy Naylor lives by the sea, in a little town on the south coast of England. She writes in the time that falls between the cracks. She has work published in places including Ellipsis Zine, Sledgehammer Lit and The Bear Creek Gazette. Her poetry chapbook, Postcards from Ragnarok, is forthcoming from Alien Buddha Press. She is EIC of interactive arts magazine, @voidspace_zine. Find her on twitter @voidskrawl
Flash Boulevard is edited by Francine Witte. Banner photograph Wes Candela.