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The Man With His Head in His Hands

I watch him from my perch. The man with his head in his hands, elbows digging into the top of his legs. People fleetingly look his way as they rush past.

He can’t see me from up here. He might only be resting. Sat there on the wood bench, taking a moment to centre himself, if it wasn’t for the tell-tale shake of his shoulders. A familiar shudder induced by feelings I’ve experienced far too long and far too frequently myself.

When tear ducts are unable to contain the torrent of pent up emotion the whole body weeps to release the pain. Like phantom arms shaking you in an attempt to reset your emotional bearings. It doesn’t always work.

The old tree behind him is gnarled and bent over in mock consolation, its own leaves brown and curled up upon itself, as if it wants to provide comfort, but is unable to get past its own demons.

A girl glances at the man as she passes, but like all the others she keeps going. Her stride falters and she turns, removing her headphones.

She walks over and I see her lips form three words.

Are you ok? I shudder.

The man doesn’t lift his head from his hands.

Emotion flashes across the girl’s face. Rejection. Anger.

She places the headphones back on her head and turns away, she takes a single step before sliding the headphones back down her neck and sitting down next to him.

I can’t see what she’s saying, but I imagine her voice to be soothing, encouraging—kind.

She tentatively places her hand on his shoulder. Perhaps this was the start to his happy ending.

Her fingers move, long and slender, like a pianist. The man responds like a marionette, her fingers pulling at invisible strings, slowly forcing his head from his hands. A beautiful dance, only I was privy to.

They both look up, like a sixth sense, as I step from the ledge. I can see the look on their faces. Disbelief.

They think I’m falling, but I’m finally flying.

Flash Fiction by Wiebo Grobler

Published in Autumn 2017


  1. Wow. Very intense. Liked it a lot.

    I’m thinking your second paragraph has a couple minor issues – should it actually read

    “He can’t see me up here. He might only be resting. Sitting there on the wood bench…”?

    • Thank you, Scott.

      Yeah I’m not sure. I try to keep in present tense as much as possible.
      Sat is one of those words that looks right when wrong and wrong when right.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story though.

      • What is the easiest place for me to go to check out your other work?

  2. Hi Scott – apologies for the late reply.

    You can view most of my published work here:

    I do however have some other great stories that’s currently in for competitions and prizes that unfortunately can’t on the site due to publishers request.


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