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Reflex Fiction Posts

Waiting for Spring

Paper-cloud hopeful she was, drawing in a breath to clear herself a blue sky. But the coughing came again, and I had to clutch at her, and give her some of my hope too, until she stopped. I lowered her onto the damp grass, and we just sat there. I can’t remember when her smile first became that weak; like she’d forgotten the mechanics of it. Now she could only manage the first half, and her big eyes had to check with you if that was okay.

I put a parasol in the garden after that so she could still sit outside. Stay warm and dry under all those sheets of rain. I think she was waiting for spring to come, waiting just to see it, the first daffodils.

I’d told her not to sit out too long. She felt as cold as winter air. Like she’d held that breath in so long it had filled every limb. And her cheeks not even wrinkled.

It was me then that resolved to wait for spring, right there with her little body in my arms, crushing her yellow jacket, and pressing her face to my chest.

But the waiting was done.


Flash Fiction by Sophie Petrie
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Naked on the Train

She stood before him, naked on the train. Beneath her layers of clothes, her straps and zips, the hooks and eyes, her hat, her coat and the scarf around her throat, she was brazenly nude.

The flesh of a generous hip revealed itself, barely held behind thin fabric as she performed her burlesque. She shifted her weight from one boot clad foot to another as the train swayed round a curve less voluptuous than hers.

Embarrassed for her exposure he almost looked away from her bra-cupped bare breasts. From revealed thighs covered by no more than a dress or so. From the most intimate down of her sex exposed to any eye that saw through linen, lace and hosiery.

But he would not desert her. He did not avert his manly gaze as they pulled into the station. Not when she stepped, naked, from the train. Nor as she strode, stripped of all but clothing, along the busy platform.

Not until she became another fully dressed woman, like his wife, his mother, his daughter, did he look away.


Flash Fiction by Tom O’Brien
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Numbers

One and one becomes two and two four and four eight and eight sixteen and sixteen thirty-two and thirty-two sixty-four and sixty-four becomes unimportant because numbers don’t matter when it’s life or death and this is, life or death. My father’s mother’s sister told us numbers matter. Sixteen is too young for marriage, sixty-four isn’t enough in English, four is the perfect number of kids to have but don’t start till you’re thirty-two. My father’s mother’s sister was smart as she could be having been married at sixteen and having four kids before thirty-two without the opportunity to get any grade at all in English, sixty-four or more. A smart woman with much wisdom and little knowledge and a cross around her neck she wore religiously. But facts like that don’t matter when it’s life or death. And this was life or death.

Caitlin NíShochrú’s father’s sister’s husband was the one with the knowledge. Sixty-four is considered old to live and young to die and the perfect time to make friends with the man in the sky. Numbers can matter, when sixty-four becomes one hundred and twenty-eight these are cells unable to control the rate at which they mutate. Cells that due to this uncontrollable rate control the fate of the owner of the cells. One hundred and twenty-eight of my own cells and counting. That’s how my father’s mother’s sister broke the news. I’m sixty-four years learning, and I’m still none the more knowledgeable. Numbers matter but not when they’re that size. When the object being counted is but a mass of things you make and culture yourself working solely and ultimately towards your untimely demise.

Numbers matter. Six becomes twelve and twelve twenty-four and twenty-four becomes the date etched on granite in the rain to sit on the site of the beloved and disgraced and misplaced for days innumerable and nights intolerable of why this, why them, why now?


Flash Fiction by Sibéal Devilly
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The Valley

They were children of the valley. They did not talk of the past or the future but only of the present. When they moved they moved slowly and with purpose. They lived in the sun and slept under the moon and stars. In spring their bed was one of celandine, and they swathed themselves in comfrey and borage for warmth and to bring sleep. It was her custom to spend the night lying against his body; his to sleep with his hand on the soft curve of her hip.

One night he awoke and gazed into the red black sky, at the moon and stars, at the valley sides, the escarpment beyond it. He was restless and left her side to climb the valley slopes, to scale the rising ground. He returned before she woke.

He began to rise each night to explore what lay between him and the moon and stars. The time away grew longer. Until one night she woke alone and called his name. The sun was in the sky when he returned. He held her, reassured her.

But nestling in his hand was a cultivated rose—its petals rouge and fleshy—which he had taken from the escarpment. He breathed its perfume. On each petal was a droplet of the night’s water. And in each droplet the moon and the stars.

She took the rose from him. A single thorn pierced her hand. She dropped it to the ground. Dark liquid flowed from her skin. She brought her hand to her lips relishing its earthy taste. Placed her mouth on his, so that he would taste it too. He turned his head away. She looked into his eyes and saw a distant light burning within him—as distant as the moon and the stars.


Flash Fiction by John Holland
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A Father’s Gift

It is tea-time when the sun arrives: hot, bright and determined. The storm that has battered the island all day leaves with the speed with which it arrived: all full throttle and drama.

I grab my rucksack and head out towards the cliffs, the ground steaming as the sun bakes the sodden earth: a squelching sponge beneath my boots. Cold droplets flick onto my calves but as I set into a rhythm and my momentum increases, the coolness refreshes my warm skin.

When I reach the highest point I stand for a moment, watching the gulls rising high into the deep blue bottomless well of sky, their dazzling whiteness a showy salute to the retreating clouds.

“This time I’ll do it,” he’d slurred, his breath stinking of stale ale and whisky, a trickle of drool spooling from his livery lips. I had laughed incredulously, cruelly. My raised eyebrows egging him on. Go on then, do it. He’d stared at me for a moment, and I’d backed away, sure of the swipe that was coming. But he’d wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and pushed past me, leaving the door to bang in the wind.

The path ribboning down the cliff doesn’t quite reach the sand and, careful not to look at the scene to my right, I jump. Something stirs in my memory. A leap into the air; strong hands reaching out, catching me, holding me close. Laughter as I’m twirled around, legs and hair flying out as I arch my back while sea and sky race by.

There were no hands to catch him in his resolve to be free. No arms to hold him as he fell. But I hope the gulls swooped down and clutched his soul, and at last he found release.


Flash Fiction by Jane Lomas
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Desert Flower

Her father recommends she incorporate more air into her diet. If it tastes like sand, feel free to consume. Even the fat around her ankles is slowly leavening. Just put yourself into motion, he urges, before your eggs wither and are no good to you or any man who might have you. So she shuffles to the beach where all the pretty people lay caramelizing in the sun. She feels the breeze stir the hem of her ill-advised sundress. The affordable, easy-clean cotton blend of it tickling the back of her knees. She bends and grasps, raising it up over her head like the velvet curtain at the theater—leisurely to build anticipation. She leaves it puddled behind her, where the wind can fold it under the coarse, brown grit that feels so right sifting between her toes. The sun glares down disapproving at the blinding cream of her skin. She steps toward the water and begins to gyrate her hips to a beat only she can hear. Her hands caress the air, her feet don’t know the steps, but still they dance. She feels the pretty people glaze over in their discomfort as she grows larger and brighter. They can’t look directly at her. She dances harder, combining effort with laughter and savors her moment. She suddenly knows what it is to be a flower in the desert. No one to see her beauty but the lizards that slither by looking for their next meal.


Flash Fiction by Diane D Gillette
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Dogs

These dogs, tail to mouth, they disgust me, they eat, shit, fuck, cut paths and tunnels through the rhododendrons, emerge, stinking and fecund, running circles around me as I sit in my bath chair—and they yap! Yappity-yappity-yappity yap!

My carers think that the dogs will love me, and thus I will learn to love back. No. They dislike me intensely, and it is mutual; this is the one thing we have in common.

I do not speak from malice. It was a kind gesture to give me these ravening wolflings.

But all I want is to go down to the river—we could have pebbles and make them skip; we could go swimming, throw water at each other.

One of the dogs is curling its lip and snarling. It is made of slavering hate.

I let slip the brakes on my chair and slowly, slowly I roll across the lawn. The dogs circle round me, unsure of what is happening. I have never moved before. They back off, then race forwards, nipping at the air that surrounds me. They run to the lake and back. They are starting to think this is a game. They are unutterably stupid.

I gather speed. Someone shouts, comes running. They won’t catch us, me and the dogs. One leaps onto my lap, licks my face—it is vile, vile! But it is affection, even here at the end of things; it is the taste of love.


Flash Fiction by Catherine Edmunds
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