Runner Up: Susannah O’Brien
Cheese Slices and Car Parks
There were fireworks the first day she met him, although it’s an awful cliché to say so. Both students, they were working at the big Tesco in town. He was meant to be cutting cheese slices behind the Deli counter, and she was normally on Bakery, but that day, their respective supervisors sent them both to help with Seasonal. So there they met, selling Catherine Wheels and Roman Candles to middle-aged men who had over-promised their kids.
“Make sure to check for I.D., and give them this safety leaflet,” Joe, Deputy Manager (Events), said to them.
There was a brisk trade and although neither of them knew the first thing about fire safety, punters were only to happy to ask for their advice, hand over the cash and walk off with Rockets and Sparklers in one hand and Joe’s leaflet in the other.
She was working the late shift, but he’d been in since breakfast. At 6pm, her Long Break and his Finish collided in the car park. They stood together, holding mugs of tea from the Staff Room and watched as the sky became a shriek of purple swirls and green stars from the municipal show down the road.
“Remember, remember, the 5thof November,” she whispered as he kissed her there in the car park.
“We’ll never forget our anniversary,” he said, putting his hands into the pockets of her Tesco fleece and pulling her in.
It was just a shame that they had broken up by Christmas.
Runner Up: Mike Blakemore
His faced burned but he held his position, too close for comfort but determined to savour this moment.
Eventually, his sister pulled him away, just as she had when the old man had been alive. This time her tug on his arm was gentle but many times she had grabbed him hard, trying to save him from himself.
His father had laughed then, just as he had when he had been the author of violence and no one had been able to stop him. Not the tiny children at his mercy and not their terrified mother.
His sister wasn’t laughing now and his own hysterical response sounded more like a cry of pain than anything resembling pleasure. But this would be closure; this would be the beginning of happier times.
Yes, it had been tasteless to dress the guy in his father’s clothes but he had never hesitated, vigorously screwing up pages of the newspaper the old man had hidden behind at breakfast and stuffing them into the moth-eaten suit. This was the uniform of respectability his father had worn to work each day, seating himself at the desk where he would proudly point towards a family photograph when colleagues asked after his kids.
The guy was all but burned now and there was just one act left to perform.
He tipped his father’s ashes into the orange flames; a second cremation because burning him once had not been enough.
Winner: Laura Riley
Penny For the Guy
It all happened so quickly — at least the beginning did. A spark of an idea I couldn’t quite shake.
The car was leaking diesel again. A sticky pool growing larger each day. I knew I couldn’t collect it, that would certainly arouse suspicion, but I could still use it. A dab here, a drip there, only enough to appear accidental of course. He’d been sniffling all week, perhaps he wouldn’t notice the smell of a blot or two on his trainers or the edge of his jeans.
He’d already decided that we’d attend the Bonfire party at the crappy pub down the road. On arrival, I saw no evidence of safety precautions. If I was lucky, this could work.
I couldn’t leave him. He knew that. We barely had enough combined, what life would I have alone. Alive, we both had share of an empty pot; but if one of us was to die, our life insurance would fill it right up.
I’m not sure what I thought would happen — but I never imagined that a small child, afraid of the sparkler a parent had clasped in their hand, would finish the job for me. Loosening their grip, they let the glowing stick fall beside my husband’s shoe. In an instant the gathered crowd froze as fire took its natural devastating form. It licked at the sides of my husband, until he was just an effigy of a man, his screams in harmony with the wailing Catherine Wheels above.
No firework display or bonfire could hold a (Roman) candle to you lovely #QUICKFIC writers. Many congratulations to Susannah, Mike and Laura — three different but wonderful spins on this week’s prompt picture. Much like how no two Catherine Wheels will spin the same, yet all look beautiful.
We’ll be back next week at 9:50 am with another prompt, minus my bad attempts at making fireworks based jokes.
For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.