RUNNER-UP: Thom Willis (we’re going to have to ban you soon, Thom)
“…bones, for some reason!” and he laughed; hugely, uproariously. She sank into herself. Oh god, that laugh. So certain of its own hilarity, so arrogant, so obnoxious. A toxic cloud of self-amusment that drifted slowly out from him until it stifled the genuine fun from any given room. He should have a warning, a yellow triangular sticker slapped on his face. Caution. Fumes.
She fumed. He could feel her resentment, white hot burning a hole in the sofa they just about shared. The gulf between them made it feel like two separate pieces of furniture. He tried to lighten the mood with a joke that screeched down to Earth in flames. Why did she do this? Incinerate the joy around her? She should have a warning, a red circle. Danger! Naked flame!
Those two are so great together, though you wouldn’t know it to hear them talk. They have a real spark, true chemistry. The way she reacts to him… It’s like hate, but you can see she’s knocked out by him, and she makes him just explode. They should have a warning, a big sign. Keep out. Private.
WINNER: Simon Higgs
When Tom told what he considered to be an amusing anecdote, he would laugh the whole way through it. That uproarious laugh was one of a multitude of things that first drew Red toward him, a tide of tremendous traits that had turned, and now each and every one of them repulsed her.
As a child Red had watched her many brothers as they dammed the stream that ran past the house and created reservoirs for their toy naval battles. The steam always won in the end of course, especially if she gave it a little helping hand by tugging at an out-cropped twig or stone.
Tom had seemed to her like a rock, back in those days when she levered him away from his wife and children. Yet now she was breaking through and away downstream and running her inevitable course. The thing Tom had feared most, that she would one day change her course, had happened. The Storm had come and the swollen river, force of nature, was once more on the move, and he hadn’t even worked it out yet.
When that dam breaks, his soaring laugh will then be silenced, drowned deep beneath and unable to absorb. To Red this has already begun – his eyes now pearls, his bones of coral made. That damned laugh was his own drowning, and the story he was telling was not so funny, and everyone else could see the coming end.
Congratulations, Thom and Simon! And thanks everyone, for another round of astoundingly good flashing.
See you next week!