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Reflex Fiction Posts

Galway City: Christmas Eve 1974

Ma drags out of a fag as she mops.

“What time will Santa come, Ma?”

“Will he have me Action Man, Ma?”

“Are ya sure Santa likes Guinness?”

“UP TA BED TA FUCK OR DERE’LL BE NO SANTA.”

Dat puts deh frighteners on me. I’ve no notion a sleepin’ but figure I’d best play along. Too much “quiet time” gone into dat Action Man. Up I go and lie with me eyes closed, listenin’ for deh tinkle of sleigh bells.

I’m awake, heart pumpin’, peepers wide. A thump from deh front room. Dat’s Santa down deh chimney I tink and I’m out a deh scratcher. I creep downstairs like a shadow, ease open the door, and dere’s Santa, in deh flesh. And he has me Ma by deh head a hair, like, and she on her knees. He yanks her up, smacks her cross deh pus, sends her flyin’ into deh tree, knocks deh whole fuckin’ ting, like. I dunno wot deh story is. Everybody’d led me ta believe Santa’s a sound old skin.

Ma’d hit me a few slaps earlier. Santa must a got wind of it, decided ta teach her a lesson, standin’ up for the kids, like. I twig deh blood dribblin’ from her mouth, lamp the way she’s shakin’, cop Santa’s lost deh run of himself. He shapes ta hit her again.

“SANTA! STOP!”

Santa swings round quick as a weasel, digs me inta deh kisser.

“BACK UP TA FUCKIN’ BED.”

I tumble onto me arse, blood pissin’, scramble upstairs through swirlin’ stars tinkin’ Santa takes dis stay in bed lark fierce serious, hide tremblin’ neath deh covers, chokin’ on tears and snot and blood.

Me auld fella’s plonked on deh edge of me bed tellin’ me how he arrived home ta find Santa goin’ mad, how he dragged Santa outside, warned him never ta return, how he told Santa ta shove his presents, cause he knew I wouldn’t want dem, not after wot Santa’d done to me Ma. Stinky yellow fingers stroke me burst lip.

“Cause you’re a good lad, you.”

Best not ask bout me Action Man.


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Flash Fiction by Conor Montague
Picture: action men by icon0.com under CC0 1.0
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The Great Gig in the Sky

Nothing holds us. We twirl and flail to the music’s rhythm, feet in the earth and hearts in the aether. All around, cigarette tips daub fireflies on the night’s canvas.

We are bare-foot and spaghetti-strapped. Hot skin pinches from the day’s burn, necks are wet with sweat beneath long hair. The booming bass vibrates the ground and slaps the face of the full moon. It frees us from A-levels and Saturday jobs, from expectation. It’s not about the future. It’s about now. This moment. These war-cry drums and the rebel howl of electric guitars.

Then a hush. Ssssssh! The summer-night silence of a thousand whistles. On the giant screen behind the band, crimson planets collide and implode as the hazy refrain of the piano, faint at first, begins to build. The planets are like corpuscles, iron-rich doom stars, and it’s a song about death. It suits our desire for gnosis. We are, after all, great philosophers. We see a new truth through the arrogant lens of our eighteen years.

The singer’s voice is itself an instrument, velvety, all-enveloping. She abandons herself to the music, eyes closed, building to a crescendo of wild, orgasmic screams. She gyrates her shoulders and her hips and we move to her tempo. There are no words. Literally. Without inhibition, she wails—increasingly desperate, ecstatic. A banshee lament. She claws at us, somewhere deep in a place we might call soul.

At last, red planets give way to watery blue. Drops in a galactic ocean. The raw rail against death slows and calms. A close-up of fretboard fingers appears on the screen, a steel slide glissando strokes the neck of the guitar in a languorous soothe. A pan back to the woman. Silver earrings glint in the stage lights, but her lustre is fading. She is plaintive now, beseeching. Slowly, the voice trails into nothingness and a sphere appears on the black screen, haloed in a rainbow—the prospect of an afterlife.

We lie back on the grass, exhausted and surrendered. Liliputians tracing the shapes of constellations in the great gig in the sky.


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Flash Fiction by Julie Evans
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Beach Boat Destruction

“They’re looking at us again.”

“Just ignore them.”

He’s bent down. Focused on the task at hand.

I’m perched on my knees in the semi-damp sand. Palms resting on my thighs.

Our decision to spend the afternoon at the beach was undeterred by the rain this morning. Another couple evidently had the same idea.

“Help me with this. Do you want two seats or a bench?”

It was my idea, so I don’t know why I’m starting to feel frustrated. Maybe because he’s taken over again.

“A bench.”

We are making a boat out of the damp sand. At least, the outline of a boat. It’s something we used to do as kids. A task given to us by parents, safe in the knowledge that the challenge would keep us entertained for at least a couple of hours. A distraction.

Funny how these things come back around.

“It’s looking good!”

I smile faintly. My eyes go back to the other couple. She’s whispering something in his ear. He laughs. They both look at me.

“Why can’t they just piss off.”

He sighs. “Why do you even care?”

“Because it’s rude!”

He shakes his head, carries on shaping the sand in the middle of the outline of our beach boat. A bench for two.

“I think it’s done.”

We stand and step back. Observing our work. He goes to put an arm around my waist. I sidestep.

“Shall we take a photo?” He fumbles for his phone.

I shrug.

“Because you think they’re looking at you? They aren’t!”

“Whatever.”

I start walking off the beach, towards the toilet block. I want to wash this sand away. Watch it drain away from my fingers down the dark sinkhole.

He catches up, ignoring my sulk. “Meet you back out here?”

When I exit, I turn back towards the beach. To our boat with its bench for two.

The other couple has wandered down the beach. Observing our boat.

As I watch, they begin jumping all over it. Twisting their heels and kicking the sand away. Holding hands the whole time. Grinning at each other.

Complete unified destruction.


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Flash Fiction by Elaine Mead
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Clocks

He threw all the clocks out of the window. Smash, smash, smash. The sound almost comforting.

His neighbours have complained. He’s promised to clear up the mess. Promised there will be no repeat.

His wife collected the clocks. Railway clocks with large white faces and Latin numerals, cheap plastic clocks, a cactus, a Micky Mouse. Carriage clocks and cuckoo clocks. A faux Salvador Dali. A spiral clock. Even a clock in the shape of a slice of toast. So many damned clocks.

Tick, tick, tick.

He threw the clocks onto the drive. The drive cost a small fortune. Not that she appreciated the expense. Said it was a waste of money. “Paved drives are bad for the environment. We could have had a holiday with that.”

“Buying stuff we don’t need is wasteful. All those clocks. What do you need them for? And I don’t like travelling, you knew that when you married me.”

They argued long but in the end it scarce mattered how the argument started, only that it never ended.

Hadn’t they been happy once?

She left him for the solicitor. He drew up their wills last year. He’s twelve years younger than she is.

The house is quiet now. Nothing moves. He can hardly hear his own breathing. But time still passes. Day gives way to night. Night becomes day. Tick, tick, tick.


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Flash Fiction by Bronwen Griffiths
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Little Bird

They take you by the hand and twirl you around like the ballerina inside your music box. The one Mama bought you for your fourteenth birthday when she stroked your hair and called you a good girl before your first party. But your nightdress sticks to your legs instead of floating around. Another party where the living room air is heavy with the greys of their cigarettes that sting your eyes. Their breath is heavy with nicotine and whiskey that sour your mouth.

They lead you down the hallway to your mama’s room where the bed is big enough and the door heavy. They open wide like wardrobes, spilling out all of their fantasies. All of their secrets come out to play. They call you little bird, close their arms around you, hoping to become a gilded cage, one you would like to stay in. You fall back into feather down, bunched together inside Egyptian cotton. Above, the light catches in the crystals of the chandelier winking at you, sharing your secret. You smile at it and forget about them. You are a little bird on the ceiling, flitting above it all.

They kiss you, whisper into your neck, calling themselves your special friends, but your friends at school never kiss you like that. Although you would like Robbie to, you would like him to be your special friend but you’re too shy—you are the doll not the hand that plays. Maybe Robbie would like to be kissed in such a way. Would he be happy with the narrow strip of your single bed? You wouldn’t want him in your mama’s room, lying in their shadows.

Thoughts of Robbie and his lips on yours leave you out of breath like when you spin, head thrown back, arms out until you are dizzy, until the world blurs and tears don’t come from sadness but from the wind on your face.


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Flash Fiction by Laure Van Rensburg
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Debut

The gallery was a cavern.

I stood towards the front of the monstrous space, near the entrance. Hands folded. Back poker straight. Head held rigid.

I felt like one of the statues displayed in this exhibition room. One of my own creations.

Only there was nothing keeping me aloft like them. They were hung on invisible strings, appearing to be in motion even though they remained perfectly still.

The whole place was still.

As if, much like me, it were waiting on bated breath.

The doors opened, quiet voices eased through the silence. A smile pushed its way onto my lips, and I came to life.

“Hello, my name is Rowena, this is my…”

I went to speak enthusiastically, brightly, and full of warmth. I stopped because I was talking to no-one.

“…debut…”
I frowned. The gallery owner frowned back at me. Shook his head. Turned back and left the way he came.

If cracks could appear in my face like they did when my artwork was exposed to heat, I would look like shattered glass.

I went back to pretending as if I were a statue.


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Flash Fiction by Amy Olivia Hartley
Picture: statue by karatara under CC0 1.0
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Lindsay’s Turd

Lindsay is a weirdo. Last time we played she told me she’s starting soon and showed me her pubes. I got my booblets out to make it even stevens.

I’m not usually at Dad’s on Fridays. Lindsay must’ve seen me arriving coz she’s round like a shot, eating bogies at the door. She grabs me before Dad can say I’m busy.

I want to go to Lindsay’s bedroom but she’s desperate to show me something in her garden.

“Pleeeeeease—you’ve got to see my terrrrd. It’s massive! Really fat and slimeh.”

I’ve tried “no thanks”.

“Erm…” she looks like Grandad’s spaniel begging for a Bonio, “…alright.”

I do like turds—turd jokes, joke turds, turds zooming off round the u-bend on their big adventure—apparently I’m “scatter-logical”.

Lindsay’s garden is dead scruffy considering what car they’ve got. There are rusty bikes everywhere and grass is spiking my legs. The glass wobbles as she yanks open the greenhouse door. When she closes it, little squares of light jiggle over the tomatoes.

On the floor at the back there’s a shoebox. Lindsay kneels down. I hold my breath thinking about Dad’s stink in the loo. She checks I’m looking so I do my grossed-out face.

Lindsay lifts the lid.

Her treasure is resting on some dead leaves—thick, greeny-brown… moving. I’m gobsmacked; wibbling like greenhouse glass.

A toad.

It looks like a mini sumo—nude without the nappy. Smudgy amber eyes and a frowny kind of fold for a mouth… throat pumping like a baby’s heart. I want to touch the skin, feel the warty bumps, but Lindsay stands guard with the lid.

“Lindsay showed me her terrrrd” —I’ll get the accent perfect. My Stepmum’s monobrow will jump into her fringe and Dad’s tongue will blurrrgghh from his beard. Over dinner I’ll explain and they’ll laugh their heads off.

I’ll wind up Mum too of course. She’ll call me revolting and say something sarky about Dad being “lazy-fair”… she won’t flip like that time she caught me with the carrot though.

Lindsay is a weirdo. Trust me—it takes one to know one.


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Flash Fiction by Lucy Goldring
Picture: GREENHOUSE by Ida Myrvold under CC BY 2.0
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