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Reflex Fiction Posts

In My Father’s House

There was nothing more I could do so I decided to interview the creaky floorboard in my father’s house. The one just outside the bathroom door, that announced his every trip to the loo, and his increasingly aided footsteps.

I sat at the top of the stairs, close to where my head had once stuck fast in the spindles. Behind me, the bedroom door was newly closed, the horrors behind it muffled.

I took a deep breath and tried to form my first question. The floorboard eyed me, warily. It said it didn’t know, it wasn’t a doctor, after all. To my next question, it snorted,

‘No, but you could remind him to dry his hands on a towel, and not just shake them as he leaves.’

‘Okey-doke,’ I said, and the floorboard looked pleased with our progress. I scribbled down its responses and wiggled aside for the paramedic to shoulder past.

Later, when it was time to sell Dad’s house and split the proceeds with my sister, I paused to say goodbye, and the floorboard groaned.

‘No one who likes carpets.’ I promised, ‘No matter what Dawn says.’ The floorboard agreed.

I looked back for the last time, glad we’d had that little chat.


This story was long-listed in the Spring 2019 Reflex flash fiction competition.


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Flash Fiction by Nic Hale
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Here You Go

No! He didn’t. He didn’t just drop that rubbish out of his window, in standstill traffic at a busy intersection in a 40-zone filled with people dining on the pavement? Surely? Has he no fear of social norms or does his brain just not work?

It wasn’t just me that saw it. Oh dear. I have to do something, it’s like I have Tourette’s when it comes to littering. I just can’t not do something. This is a very high-pressure situation though. The car is full of people, I will look very obvious walking directly towards it, the streets are also full of people, the lights are about to turn green.

I was describing what had just taken place to my friend when I realised I needed to take revenge. I got up and walked calmly towards the car, faces from the window staring expectantly. I made myself a very subtle ‘helpful, smiley face’ as I leaned down to pick up the rubbish. The lights were changing. That should get me one extra second. The vehicle was moving. I grabbed the car door and pulled it open. It quickly got pulled shut but not before I threw the trash back in. The guy in the front was laughing, the people in the street were watching, the woman on the table next to where I’d been seated was clapping. The door got opened again but the rubbish stayed in. Words poured out ‘Do that again and I’ll fucking kill you.’

Victory was mine and the only disappointing thing was that the fella in the backseat didn’t appreciate the beauty and perfection of that moment and thought there was a chance I could recreate it.


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Flash Fiction by K H Angus
Picture: litter by Suzy Hazelwood under CC0 1.0
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And All the While…

Goodbye bullet whine, shit-filled trousers, blood and guts.

Hello pint mug, bangers and mash, Ally Pally.

The war was over. Six years of hell.

We had won.

I was still alive.

I kept all her letters. They kept me going.

The first girl I spotted as I disembarked: white coat, white shoes, white hat.

An angel. My angel.

I stunk to high heaven; she wouldn’t care.

A rush of blood. I threw the kitbag on the ground. Thud, thud went the boots.

The wind took my beret. Pure joy took my heart.

She saw me coming.

I bent her backwards.

Her eyes flew open.

My lips met hers. They tasted of wine.

She pushed me away. Straightened her coat and fussed her hair. Tightened her face like a nun who had been violated. Wasn’t she pleased to see me? A survivor, an endangered species, the seed carrier of our future children? I opened my mouth to complain.

She grabbed a man, a big black camera hung around his neck.

‘This is Jimmy,’ she said.

‘Jimmy? Jimmy who?’

‘We’re engaged.’

‘Don’t mess about, Lily.’

‘I came to say goodbye.’

‘Eh?’

‘I’m off to America.’

Jimmy held out his hand.

‘No bad feelings, bud?’

He was crew cut, bent-nosed, stomach straining an olive drab shirt.

Chewing on a big fat Havana.

He waved Lily and me together.

‘Snap for old times’ sake, bud?’

He threw me a victor’s face.

She pulled me close. Curled her lips for the photograph. Fluttered her hand at Jimmy.

The sun splintered on a pea-sized gem.

I smelled expensive perfume, caught the greed in her eyes.

I couldn’t move, rooted to the ground.

‘C’mon, doll, things to do,’ said Jimmy.

She unstuck herself. Threaded his arm. Gave me a wink.

My angel.

I strode to the gap between ship and dock. A slit made for self-destruction. Did she think she could simply walk away, leave me, my heart destroyed?

The precipice beckoned.

Goodbye pint mug, bangers and mash, Ally Pally?

‘Hey, Lily,’ I shot at her.

She turned, her eyes wide on me on the precipice.

I formed my fingers, flicked her the V.


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Flash Fiction by Paul Chiswick
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Window

Looking out, commonplace, draws me to the inside of the outside. I contemplate the weather, the wildlife, the life of the wild. Drawn to the thought of cold breeze, I turn, turn, turn the lock and push, push, push the frame open. I breathe in. I breathe out. A thousand birds fill the room; a blustering wind bounces off the walls. Leaves swirl, tornado-like on my bedroom floor. Leaves the leaves on my bedroom floor, collecting, collecting in corners they don’t belong. My day becomes auburn.

Looking out, unusual, draws me to the outside of the inside. Cold room and pale skin. Thin, thin, thin. My knees are grey upon my chest. The window is open. My room is white. A blizzard rolls in between my sheets; I am buried. I pull, pull, pull the frame closed and turn, turn, turn the lock. The snow collects in corners it doesn’t belong. My day becomes white.

Looking out, feeling, feeling, draws me to within. I contemplate the wildlife, the birth, the birth, the birth of life. Growth and growing, them and me. Drawn to the thought of new, I pull, pull, pull the frame closed. My room is new. My shadow grows, life collecting, bouncing off the walls. The smell, the smell. I can smell a rose. Petals collect in the corners where I want them to belong. My day becomes bright.

Looking out, breathing, breathing, draws me to the window. Sweat beads run down. Thick, thick, thick. Ragdoll body sits lifeless. Don’t touch me. I stick to my sheets; I am buried. I turn, turn, turn the lock and push, push, push the frame open. Warm collects in corners it doesn’t belong. Water. My days become warm.


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Flash Fiction by Bethany Roche
Picture: windows by Snapwire under CC0 1.0
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No e in Pornography

Nobody is hungry, but Nina cooks surplus pasta anyway. Nina chops onion, and salad, pours vino. Stirs pans, pours vino. Sighs. Sonny looks out across distant hills. A hazy sky. Tomorrow it will rain. Probably. Tomorrow, Sonny thinks, I will go. Pack my bags, go abroad; Spain possibly, if I can find my passport. But cannot stay, cannot stomach malicious gossip, nasty small-talk. And now Nina knows. Now his guts squirm. His cock shrinks.

Food. Nina says.

Not hungry.

As you wish, says Nina and shrugs. As you fucking wish.

Sorry.

That word.

Sorry.

Sorry for two small things. Sorry I do not want pasta. Sorry I was caught looking.

Not so sorry, thinks Nina, for abnormal cravings. Not sorry to bring havoc to Nina’s world. In outwardly lax administrations, such things flourish with abandon. Sonny looks long at icons of dissipation; nothing is off limits to a thin bald man with roving digits. His cock tics; paroxysm.

But browsing history rats him out. Slipshod fool.

Only looking… No harm said Sonny.

But shit hits fan. Nina storms; ballistic. A typhoon of crazy fury.

Only looking?

Only a child.

Nymph in Sonny’s mind. And asking for it. A tantalizing nymph. So many, many nymphs if truth is told.

That poor child. What harm man inflicts with his cranky cock. Nina drinks. Sonny sulks. Nina cannot pardon him or acquit him of culpability. Will not pardon him. Will not acquit. Who would? You?

But this worm turns, from taciturn anguish at his own affliction, and sly incapacity for guilt, Sonny’s bastard mind distorts. Pivots fault.

Nina.

Cold.

Harpy.

Old.

And frigid.

Slamming doors, finding fault, carping on. Antagonistic up-tight bitch. His fist tics; a spasm.

Nothing is normal now.

Night falls.

Pasta grows cold in glass bowls.


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Flash Fiction by Jupiter Jones
Picture: chopping onions by Paula under CC0 1.0
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Stellar Remnants

Celeste avidly watched as the moon completely overtook the sun. The other wives exhaled prettily and fixed their mouths with coquettish smiles, cracking their lushly painted lips in the process.

Carter used to tell her she stood above them. He said she was mythic, like her name.

During the last eclipse, he whispered his claim between each soft, sticky kiss. His mouth had felt downright worshipful under the shadowed light of the moon aligning with the sun.

Sometimes, when she sat by his grave, she could pretend she was mythic. Even after her clothes had been ruined by earthy grass stains—by what was left of him—she could still look at the sky and pretend she had some kind of power.

While the ladies watched the eclipse, Celeste used the blade of her finger to apply their blood-red lipstick.

It was only fitting that she wore this badge, too—she hadn’t become anything better. Somewhere along the way, she’d lost a part of herself, some vital, rhythmic thing. She’d lost the excitement, the thrill, the darkness. What once made her someone to worship had been replaced by safety and security, by fake, placid smiles and the promise of something that never came.

Celeste looked at the sky with her fingers pressed to thinning lips. She looked, and she looked again. Even when it pained her, even when her vision blurred, she knew she couldn’t look away.

As soon as she did, all splendor would be gone.


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Flash Fiction by Alyssa Jordan
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Just Like Father

The front-page photo of the local paper shows a man, early thirties, rowing along the flooded high-street, past sunken cars, floating branches, displaced road signs. He has pale skin, a shock of blonde hair, deep-set dimples. She stares. It must be him: he looks just like Father.

*

Sixteen years old and Father still refused to knock before entering. Her baggy jumper lay crumpled on the floor, out of reach. His eyes, drawn to her stomach, narrowed with confusion. Shame. She cradled the bump. As if hands were enough.

*

Has he always lived so close? Or did she draw him here, like a bee to nectar?

She cuts out his picture, locks the door, races down the hill, wades through waist-high water. Someone around here might know him, might recognise him. She reaches for the photo, but it is sodden. Ink drips, swirls, dissolves, disappears.

*

She watched the social worker’s lifeless plait until it disappeared.

‘Make me a cuppa,’ Father said, releasing his grip on her arms.

She placed her palm against the cool metal kettle and waited until it boiled. And then silence fell, settling, knee-deep, like snow.

*

She strips off her clothes, carries a mug of tea upstairs.

‘I saw him. In the paper. I saw him.’

From bed, Father stares at her naked body. Spittle dribbles from the corner of his mouth, down his chin. She finds a clean tissue, wipes it away.

*

The doctor called yesterday with Father’s prognosis: a few weeks. She prayed for a miracle.

A flash of lightning and the heavens opened.

*

From the bedroom window she sees his hair, bright against the turbid water. A filthy jumper, trainers riddled with holes, an overflowing rucksack. He raises a hand, smiles. Just like Father.


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Flash Fiction by Danny Beusch
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