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Author: Ian J Burton

Nice Day

It is as if the sound of the sea is in the artist’s studio, as if everything is calm, as if there are no walls.

But then the clouds in the picture on the easel begin to darken and scud.

“I want to turn around”

“Don’t. Just enjoy the day. It’s perfect.”

“Is it? But I want to know what’s behind us.”

“Forget what’s behind. The ocean is ahead. Listen to the waves.”

“I’m going to turn around.”

“Calm down. You’re spoiling this picture. It was perfect but now look at it—tsunami on the horizon and hell’s kitchen in the sky.”

“Yes and we’re sitting here gormless.”

“If you sit still long enough the sun will come out.”

“You’re crazy. I’ll tell you what’s behind us . . . It’s . . .”

The artist’s brush chased by a sob of anguish and futility, zooms down onto the canvas, targeting the figures in the landscape. They are engulfed by a thick black wave.

Her mobile flashes, distracts, flashes, distracts.

She stops the alarm. The therapy session is over. The easel, the brush, the palette and the black tsunami picture have been locked away.

The woman not the artist gathers coat, phone, car keys, stress and the backpack of history.

One day it will be a truly nice day and there will be no looking back.


Flash Fiction by Ian J Burton
Picture: Expression by Ano Lobb under CC BY 2.0
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Grandma’s Christmas Cake

“Oh, I love the smell of this cupboard . . .”

James ignored his sister, Amanda ‘hash-tag-don’t-call-me-Mandy’, and continued to study his phone at the kitchen table. There was nothing from Naomi. This had an end of the world feel about it.

Mandy had her head in the cupboard. “. . . one sniff and you can tell Christmas is coming.” She was breathing extravagantly. “When the cake is ready, I will offer you a slice, of course . . .”

He groaned but Mandy droned on, “and you will refuse of course . . .” She plonked herself down. “. . . because you no longer believe in The Cake.”

It was an accusation. Patience reached a Naomi inspired limit. “Mandy, hate to have to destroy your childhood—but I’ll explain. Grandma died in the old house, long before we moved here. This is a new house. That cupboard was factory built probably earlier this year—way after Grandma died. Get it?”

She looked at him, said nothing. The awesome thing about Mandy—was that she could handle silence like a knife, own it and keep it sharp. “Nothing from Naomi then?”

His non-existent reply floundered in a fish-caught gasp for words.

She said, “Just so you don’t forget what is real and what is not, I will fix that for you, big brother, right now.” She tra-la-la’d and danced out of the kitchen.

James went to the cupboard, opened it and with eyes closed drew a deep breath. Frustration mellowed on the outgoing breath. A hint of orange peel and the mixed up want-more taste of grandma’s Christmas cake churned with the yearning for a hug from her.

In one breath childhood was a place he didn’t want to leave but next he wanted to run away into the rest of his life.

Then as if by Mandy-magic, his mobile rang. When he put the phone down he had a date with Naomi, tomorrow.

Somehow, everything was alright again.

He went back to the cupboard opened the door and was met by the faint smell of antiseptic, nothing more.


Flash Fiction by Ian J Burton
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