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The Return

You were happy on the bus this evening, the sun warming you through the glass. Looking up from the crochet-clad lamppost, you saw a beer can sculpture in the window of a student flat. The bus trundled through the city, past scaffolding and ‘95% sold’ signs. You stretched out your legs and leaned back.

On the other side of town, a tall man had just arrived at the station. He was carrying a large canvas holdall and was scanning the building for an exit. Spotting a sign in the corner he headed towards it.

You jumped off the bus at Holston Street and turned into the shabby high street towards the butchers. Deep bass beats and the pungent smell of skunk seeped out from a basement grating.

“Hullo, Tara,” the butcher boomed. “How are you?”

“I’m good thanks. I’m doing really good.”

“Is it something for Alfie you’re after?”

You smiled and he went to the back of the shop, returning with a bulging paper bag, folded as if it contained an expensive gift.

“Enjoy,” he laughed, as he handed it to you.

Outside, the sun was about to set and the sky was turning an unearthly shade of blue. You walked past the rows of Victorian terraces until you reached home. The dog barked a loud welcome behind the front door, as you rummaged for your keys.

Suddenly you heard a soft voice say, “Tara”. You turned around, and he was there. He looked just the same, although his hair was a little longer. Behind the door the dog was barking and thumping against the wood.

The tall man put his bag down and it gaped open. “Tara, I’m sorry,” he said. “I had nowhere else to go.”

You gazed down at the holdall and saw inside the clear plastic bag with white lettering. It was as if you were watching a film; yourself, the man and the luminous blue sky.

“Don’t, don’t,” you said to yourself.

You turned around and unlocked the door. The dog shot out, past you. Without a word you went inside, and held the door open.

Flash Fiction by Jane Lampard
Picture: DANGER by John St John under CC BY 2.0

Published in Spring 2017


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