Runner Up: James A
Sat in the dark, dank shadow of the garden’s wall, Tom pressed his ear against its damp, cold face. He listened to the sounds beyond, imagined the actions that made them, wondered how it was possible to do likewise.
Tom did not understand summer. He knew about it, saw people getting excited about it, don shorts, go outside, listen to their summer soundtracks, cook meat and drink outside… while he remained outside that walled garden, listening, imagining.
He thought of it as a music service he couldn’t afford, and so could only listen to snippets of songs. Or film teasers that were never replaced by trailers, let alone the full feature. He knew these things but did not know them.
In his heart and mind, Tom knew he would sit there always. The darkness within the wall would confirm his insecurities and keep him there, listening, waiting for the winter when he would be alone again, the revellers’ noise gone until the sun returned.
Jane would often sit and look across the park, watching the lovers walk by, the dogs chase balls, the children running and playing… and a curious man across the way would always catch her eye. Always sat alone, he would stare as if unseeing, as if there were a wall between him and everyone else.
If she had more confidence, perhaps she would have gone to talk to him. She guessed everyone had their own walls they would not cross; and certainly she knew her own.
Runner Up: Simon Yates
“I’ve got to get home.” Peggy said. “He’s waiting for me.”
“Don’t go.” I said.
She laughed and it broke my heart. A laugh shouldn’t carry that weight of misery.
“Don’t laugh.” I said. “You can stay with me.”
“And your parents will be OK with that? They’ll let me sleep in your room?”
I looked away. I didn’t want to say the word that was forcing its way up into my mouth. I’d said it once and she hadn’t spoken to me for a week.
“It’s not his fault.” She said. “It’s the whiskey.”
“He needs help.”
“I’m helping him.” She hugged her schoolbooks tighter and clenched her jaw even harder, daring me to argue.
It was too close to the word that could never be said. She whirled away, her ponytail whipping after her, and strode along the pavement.
“Peggy! Don’t.” I called. “Please?”
She didn’t listen. Every step took her further from me in every way. I just watched, as usually useless as always. She didn’t look back.
That night I didn’t sleep. Every time the wind blustered or the bed creaked, I imagined the worst. I played scenarios through my head where I was always the hero, the rescuer, the lover. But I was fourteen. My bedroom stayed safe no matter what I imagined. So different to Peggy’s.
The next morning Peggy still wasn’t speaking to me.
Winner: Daniela Azzopardi
“We should head back. Don’t wanna get lynched.”
“Daft boy,” Old Nate barked, fighting with the gear stick. “They’ll all be giddy to see you.”
“I doubt that.” Matthias clutched his knapsack. “On my last visit I sent e’eryone to the ‘backwater hell’ from where they had spawned.”
Old Nate wiped the sweat from his brow with a chequered handkerchief as Matthias looked out of the truck at the familiar landscape.
He missed it; the countryside, childhood friends, grumpy grandparents. Being that close to home had made him tumble to the nearest train station after his concert was done, forgetting the sourness which had ended his last visit.
As the train got closer to his destination, memories had rushed back with astronomical force. Before he could catch another train out of there, Nate accosted him, recognizing the child Matthias used to be, and dragged him to his truck, insisting on giving him a ride into town.
A soft summer breeze blew as they got to the main square and Nate’s truck ground to a halt. Matthias’ smiling face greeted them from a canvas poster almost as tall as the council house first floor.
Castledale – Home of Melodious Matthias
“Got ‘er up in time for the concert.”
“You’re a downright talent, Matt. Bit stubborn, but you’ll do great.”
Matthias’ voice faltered. “Does Sam think so too?”
Nate scoffed. “Sam? Who do think drew that darned poster?”
He turned to light his pipe, allowing Matthias some privacy with his emotions.
Thank you for playing along with the odd turn this week’s prompt took! Congratulations to James, Simon and Daniela, and thank you to everyone that sent a piece in. Keep them coming!
Have a wonderful, music filled weekend and we’ll see you again at 9:50 am next Friday.
For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.