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Bumper Car Voices

Oonah listened to their sentences rising and falling. It was like a leisure park ride. Old friends’ voices. They spewed words at each other in great chains like coloured bunting and took in aural hotdogs, scarcely chewed, mouthfuls of life dripping with mustard, ketchup and fried onions. The worst thing in the world would be to bore your mates by how you sounded.

“Let my voice be a bumper ride, a water slide, a wall of death.”

Kay was greedy. She rushed through the vocal fairground using up the shared words, the TV catchphrases or references that went way back where they couldn’t remember. There was less of that, Oonah noticed.

It was hard to say when she knew she was delaying the inevitable. One year there was no candyfloss in their throats anymore. Nothing really scary they could excite each other with. There were no ghost trains in their larynges. Kay tried to be generous, to leave some tones of voice for others. But Oonah didn’t much like what was left. There wasn’t a lot to say with the expressions Kay overlooked.

Their laughs still went round but they no longer went up and down too like the blue and red horses on the merry-go-round. Didn’t Kay see? Up and down is at least as important as round and round. Giggles travelled tired circles, ending up back where they started.

The last year as Oonah arrived, the Super Loop got stuck at the top of its track. She heard the screaming. She could see Kay up there, dangling from the car. Firemen rushed in carrying ladders as she walked away.

On the way home, she finally faced up to it. It had to be done. The online form was fairly easy to fill in. The hearing aid didn’t take long to arrive.

“Should have done it twenty years earlier,” she thought the last time she went out with mates.

Flash Fiction by Jeremy Hinchliff
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Published in Autumn 2017


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