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Reflex Fiction Posts

Seven Years

When I broke Mum’s mirror, Georgi said, ‘That’s seven years bad luck, you know.’

I didn’t know.

Seven years is a lifetime when you’re little. It was a shadow looming over me. An unspoken curse. Every day, I’d look out of our window, mine and Georgi’s, and pretend I was a princess under a dark spell. As the days ticked by, however, it became a part of me. Soaking into my skin like one of Dad’s tattoos.

Today is the seventh anniversary. I’ve bought a cupcake and stuck a candle in it. Georgi is Georgina now. Too old for nicknames, apparently. She walks in, her shirt untucked and her tie fashionably short in a way I’ve never quite managed.

‘What’s that for?’

‘My curse is over.’

She rolls her eyes, picks up her bag, and leaves.

I think about the past seven years. What I’ve achieved. What I haven’t. Being under a curse has been quite relaxing, in a strange sort of way. It was a soft pillow to fall back on when I didn’t get the grades I wanted, or when James asked Donna out instead of me.

Everything that went wrong was the mirror’s fault. Everything that went right was me succeeding against the odds.

It’s not an anniversary, I realise suddenly. It’s an ending. A divorce.

I blow out the candle, take Georgi’s mirror out of her makeup bag, and crush it under my heel. Tucking into my cake with a smile, I wonder what the next seven years will have in store.


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Flash Fiction by Claire Jenkins
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Writer, Right Her, Right Here

A fleeting glimpse every day. She marches amongst harried commuters, heel of leather boots angrily clacking against the marble floor. He crouches on damp flattened cardboard, twisted hand scrawling lines upon grubby slips of shoplifted notepaper. Tired eyes almost always meet; a fraction of a second, both parties questioning the others expression before life’s imposed division forces each to glance away.

Later, painted nails caressing keys, and he infiltrates her mind once more. How it is possible to scrape by on handfuls of copper pennies, flogging handwritten poems to soft-hearted train station tourists. She considers his story, ponders what narrative he has endured, imagines the series of events that brought his existence to that point. Thinks again of the novel that lurks within, constantly threatening to erupt from her body, the detonation spraying brain and blood across the monitor that taunts her with its flickering glow.

Frozen fingers struggle; chewed biro barely marking the paper as he attempts to filter verse through the murky static of a buzzed-up mind. Everything is desire now; one low bout of constant longing. When and how he became such an empty vessel is an unanswerable question. Out of the confusion floats an image. Her face, frowning as it so often does. It frightens him that one who appears to have so much can still seem to be so unhappy. The slow destruction of absolute beauty through the casual indifference of callous humanity.

Slight rain trails across orange glowing lights. Friday night people race to get to the next chapter. She puts away her phone, fishes out a purse, approaching slowly for the very first time. He wipes slick wet hair from his brow; realises who’s standing in front of him. Outstretched limb offers a monarch’s portrait. He declines with a shrug, gazing at her features. A shared moment of quiet contemplation. He hunches over his notebook, begins a furious scribbling. Rips out the sheet, passes it without looking. Eyes scan the lines;

She writes books

He never reads them

She thinks he wants them

But he doesn’t NEED them

Smiling, she takes his hand, helps him stand and together they turn over the page.


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Flash Fiction by Steven Holding
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Resonances

You could hear the collisions. Tight felt hammers crashing into metal strings. But that’s not all that interested him. It was the repercussions of these events; the resonances that reached out to everything they encountered along their journey, causing them to reverberate sympathetically. Once, a girlfriend, listening to a twelve-inch vinyl being played through his elderly record player, had said to him, ‘You hear that? That’s terrible. You shouldn’t be able to hear that at all.’ But he didn’t agree. What she could hear was the sound of fingertips sliding along the strings on the fretboard of a guitar, the delicious friction involved in the changing of a chord. Sounds that spoke of the guitarist, not the instrument; a living being leaving fingerprints on the notes. Perhaps that’s why they couldn’t stay together. The things she found annoying were the very things he found to be humanising. For him, there was always too much edited out. Too many airbrushed photographs in other people’s perfect worlds, lived out in the glare of social media. Did people who were genuinely happy feel the need to parade their lives, in the hope that others would envy them? He had liked her imperfections, the freckles she hated, the visible pores of her skin. He looked back at their encounter with both sadness and wonder. Even now, the sound of her slamming the door on their last day still resonated through his life, its harshness closing a gap that no-one else had ever filled.


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Flash Fiction by Michael Salander
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Waiting

She is eight years old the first time she sees the forest.

A deep, otherworldly hum fills the air, makes the ground sing beneath her feet. There are no bird calls or creaking branches here, no familiarity to help her understand why her muscles tense and her stomach turns.

The trees spread out as far as the eye can see. They sparkle like crystals, like starlight. When she hesitantly steps closer, they almost seem to stoop forward.

The first tree wears a face with wide-set eyes and smiling lips. Her hands shake as she reaches toward the crystalized wood. She knows that face, she knows it, but she will not recognize it until many years later, when she sees the woman’s smiling face on the news.

This she learns: every year brings thousands of trees to the forest.

It isn’t long before gemstones glitter in their branches and harden their roots. The soil too grows rich with their ashes, though it’s made strong by something beyond blood and cartilage and bone.

The face of each tree always takes the longest. Their shape forms with the utmost care, wrought and immortalized in painstaking detail.

She wants to take note of each name, each story, but there are so many that sometimes she weeps and loses count.

When she can start again, she will visit the trees to whisper their names. The way the sounds leave her lips is seared into memory, repeated and retraced until there is only a sense of rhythm lost.

In these moments, she can see them all.

The ones overtaken while they jogged. The ones targeted for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The ones who disappeared. The ones who suffered.

The ones with faces that now gleam, frozen in starlight and shade.

She tries to collect as many names as she can. Deep down, she understands why she can’t let them go.

With each face she touches, her arms seem to grow heavier, weightier, until she can’t feel her hands anymore, can’t carry anything else, but the knowledge still burns in her gut.

The last tree she comes across is empty, faceless. Waiting.


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Flash Fiction by Alyssa Jordan
Picture: brown tree trunk by Mahima under CC0 1.0
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The Black Sea Shore

The black seashore had a peculiar allure. How cold was the ocean, at this time of year? Was it like a thousand needles prickling at once? Or would perhaps the icy shock cause her not to feel?

The tight knot in her stomach contracted. Unable to eat; unable to stand upright – simply unable. Her sunken cheeks pulled the heavy bags under her eyes towards her shoes, the mere thought of smiling was ludicrous, like waking up singing; absurd and impossible. Everything was cold, sharp and blue. A bad filter that made you look too clear, too real, like in flashbacks in bad TV shows.

Her phone felt heavy in her hand. Perhaps she should just throw it away? Become one of those insufferable people, who claimed to know what was real, what happiness is. Or should she hide entirely behind the screen? Live her life online, in a basement with three displays – become her username.

She knew that she was sinking. Slowly towards the dark, familiar hole. The wounds had just healed, or that’s how it felt. She couldn’t go to mom, who would know at once. Right now she could only sit here, on this filthy bench. Allow the cold to soothe the hurt a bit. The cogs in her head were slowly turning. Rusty and loudly, a thought was born. Like a dark inkspot on a white tablecloth, growing like cancer over the bright surface, the sharp tip of a pen, feeding the exposed surface with darkness. She wished that Mom would call. Then she could be angry at her, if only for a little while … Then perhaps she could look away or put the cap on the pen. Throw away the cloth and run from this place. But the ‘do not disturb’ on her phone simply leered up at her.

The black seashore had a peculiar allure. How cold was the ocean, at this time of year? Was it like a thousand needles prickling at once? Or would perhaps the icy shock cause her not to feel? Finally.


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Flash Fiction by Anna Skarphedinsdottir
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Terror Attack

The minute she was told she had cancer she realised she’d never felt happiness before. A narcotic sensation eased through her body, warmth climaxing at her peripheries and filling her outline with a heavy warmth. She now had a reason for being alive and a shameless way out. And it was breast – the least blameworthy, no direct lifestyle sentence handed down. She could start smoking again, because ‘what the hell’. She could drink and eat and throw caution to the wind. She might try all the things never managed in the boredom of wellbeing – go running, raise money, volunteer, be inspirational with no makeup and a good head-scarf, just the naked honesty of staring at the end in the right way. She might even lose a tit or both, get rid of the udders that bought so much painful attention. People would be sympathetic; approximate love through pity and awe and none of it was her fault, that was key. She’d got her wish and felt happiness for the first time. It would hurt, it could be gruesome, but it was just life condensed into a more vivid experience and with an achievable finish line. No more struggle to identify a good life and live it and fail, it was all there in the diagnosis.

She had a procedure, got the all clear, the cancer gone. That night she tried to drive her car into a wall but lost control and crashed through the front of a busy cafe. She broke a finger and nine people died.


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Flash Fiction by Nina Pandey
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Mexican Wave

Many would say my mere existence is only to give amusement or even pleasure to others. This view I would tend to uphold. Except that my keeper finds little pleasure in me, I’m sure. He seems exasperated at my constant need for attention, scowling, then muttering under his breath when he empties our ‘contribution’ bowl at the end of the day.

The passers-by sometimes express delight but more often criticize with comments such as ‘the horse was actually rearing’ or ‘the elephant is better’. Then, surprisingly he can be quite tender, spraying and smoothing my hair, or my body; my breasts even, although his hands are rough. I cannot speak about those others as I am not wanted when they are here. I never know which days I will be assembled.

My usual companion is the lion: I envy him. He lies a few yards from me, and his day is shorter. He is big and quite fearsome. As he leaves, he drinks the water, loosens his mane, and goes away long before I can.

Cleopatra drops cigarette ends nearby but she never speaks. Unlike me, she can move, but only does so when no-one is looking – walking a little distance to share a joke with the laughing people. Often the black men arrive with heavy loads – their voices attract attention – they all shine in the mid-day sun.

My word begins with ‘M’ – mutant, malformed, no … mermaid! I have a tail, but it’s only of use at the end of my day when the blue army arrives. They rise up in unison and force down onto the sand. They lift and release me to swim away – free, at least, for another twelve hours.


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Flash Fiction by Rolz Kendall
Picture: woman in water by Pixabay under CC0 1.0
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