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Author: Dee McInnes

The Chronicle of John

She’d smuggled eggs in the pocket of her school-coat across a soft border, while he chased German Panzers across the scorched plains of Catalina. Italian girls threw flowers from open windows that lined the liberated streets. They fell like confetti onto the hull of his Sherman tank.

An autumn breeze streams her veil and sunlight dapples their faces.

John stands Napoleonesque, right hand tucked into the jacket of a double-breasted suit. Calm and sanguine; a steady gaze below bushy eyebrows. His bride is diminutive, radiant. Feet neatly together in polished shoes of gunmetal grey. She holds a bouquet of red roses beneath the sweetheart neckline of a pale blue dress, handmade over the summer with grosgrain silk from Dublin. Altered more than once, as nerves trimmed vital statistics.

Their early months; a second-hand bed in a rented stone cottage, perched on the edge of the Lough. Near the ancient Keep where Gaelic lords made the first settlement. Over the wild winter, waves come up the sink, and sand flies hop under the door of their haven.

Within the year, she’ll give birth to a son also called John, which means God is gracious. They’ll flit to a larger place, The Grain House, courtesy of his employment as caretaker of the corn mill. Two dark-haired girls, the image of their mother, will follow in steps. Children that would be hard-working, honest and good.

The night of the mill fire, John will go to check, and four will wait; the orange glow spreading across their faces.

Flash Fiction by Dee McInnes
Picture: Tank treads by dave_7 under CC BY 2.0
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Station Central

The air conditioning huffs. Palms stick to the leather steering wheel; zero one fifty. I’ve passed the same junction on this grid-like network at least once before.

The city is alive. The Overground rumbles, blue sparks cascading onto the asphalt. I’m trying to find the terminal, make the connection. I crank the window. The smell that filters in reminds me of an amusement-park dodgem ride. I can feel the excitement, hear delighted screams.

A figure wearing a red cape cycles past, fabric brushing the wing mirror. Powerful limbs pump the pedals. They sail past the stalled traffic and weave expertly ahead.

There are thousands of others in their cells-on-wheels, engines humming; worker-bees swarming. Fuel tipped to the max.

The road clears. I surge ahead and recognise the exit to Station Central that curves to the left and back, banking high above the river. Dozens of bridges decorated with strings of light cross the dark water like rungs on an infinite ladder.

The glow on the approach to the terminal is dazzling. There’s a shrill blast from the departure whistle. I taste salt on my lip. Push the accelerator to the floor.

A red-caped marauder is careering towards me, silhouetted against the yellow glare; a sun-spot, growing larger second by second. They sit astride a snarling machine, whining through the gears.

I swerve, control the skid and race to catch myself, before the next loop. The air conditioning huffs . . .

Flash Fiction by Dee McInnes
Picture: IMGP1586 by Matt Buck under CC BY-SA 2.0
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