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Spartan Birds

Michael was shy and incessantly boring.

“Jesus, you’re boring, Michael,” I told him.

Nothing inhabited him and his empty, basset hound eyes were no different to those on my 7.04 a.m. to Elephant and Castle.

“Why is it that you are so boring, Michael?”

What made Michael so boring was that he was utterly predictable and was unable to do anything on his own. There was something rather parasitic about him.

“I’m not,” he said.

He was a liar. If left to his own devices he would rot in squalid silence.

“But you never say anything. And when you do it’s never interesting.”

Michael was lexically challenged and whenever a new word was used around him he would repeat it for days on end.

“Yes, it is,” he said.

Like all boring people he never asked any questions, either.

“Why do you never ask anyone anything?”

He was looking out of the window, hiding his face as he so often did when told something he didn’t wish to hear.

“Michael? I’m talking to you.”

“Sorry, what?”

I repeated the question.

“I do, though.”

Another lie.

“But you don’t. You don’t ask me or anyone else.”

He continued to gaze out of the window; although, it was clear that he was listening intently. And so he should, for every word I spoke was truthful and I wanted him to bleed.

“What are you looking at?” I asked.

He chewed his bottom lip uncomfortably and said, “Just the birds.”

I once read somewhere that it is common for garden birds to eject their weak or sickly chicks from the nest in order to concentrate their care on their other young. I liked the idea of these seemingly harmless yet resolute, Spartan birds.

“Have other people called you boring before, Michael?” I asked knowing that they had.


“Well, maybe you should change then.”

He wouldn’t look at me but I knew that my son was thinking about what I had said.

Flash Fiction by Thomas Simpson

Published in Summer 2017


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