What is it that pulls you off the beaten path? The path you’ve mapped so that each day follows the next in well-ordered progression. Where love is constant, unquestionable and as unassuming as the cup of tea you bring me before work, when my eyes are half open and the bed still warm on your side.
What she means is that she will not work for me. I watch him at his desk. He is fast, efficient, he doesn’t ask her opinion but expects to receive it. He does his part, passes papers to her, she does her bit, brings them back, smooth as the Berlin Metro. He rewards her with quick little smiles. She beams; she shimmies past my desk on her click-clicking heels.
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There I was, dancing naked on the front lawn of suburbia, my heart pumping to the pulse of the sprinkler, spray-wet skin and diamonds beading my hair.
“Dance with me.” I screamed at you; at your bedroom window, no longer our bedroom window.
I saw you cowering behind the curtain. I felt your blood run cold. I saw you turn uncertainly to the woman, no girl, behind you. She is deranged, you would say, and pull a sheet around your nakedness, exposed by my nakedness, outside, not in. Mad bitch, mad, mad. I felt your fear as you saw your world come crashing down. I threw up my arms and laughed.
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“Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais?” I asked hopefully.
It was pretty much the only thing I could say in French. I stood in the police station and shifted from foot to foot. I was nervous, and my feet were hot.
“Mai-oui, but of course, how can I help you?” He looked me up and down, then looked back to his book where he recorded the time.
“Your name? You are staying where, and for how long? May I see your passport? Now, why are you here?”
“I have lost my wife.”
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A slightly different version of this flash fiction is published as “Flash of Gold” in Oor Ain Voice, by Write Enuff, 2016. (out of print).
I stop for lunch and eat my institutional sandwich at my desk. I look out through grimy leaded panes and see a flash of gold; startling on a grey day. It is a girl in a yellow flamenco dress, doing a twirl outside the college gates. It is January and -4 outside. Her heavy snow boots and sheepskin jacket do not detract from the graceful execution of her dance. But she is dancing to keep warm. She hands out leaflets and from here I can’t see what they are. To save horses in Spain perhaps. She prances after some disappearing students who take her leaflets and laugh. One of them returns, he takes the bundle from her and places them down. He blows on her hands, and rubs them in his. They laugh. Their breath hangs in the cold air. They raise their hands to the cloud. This is our cloud they might be saying, we made it together. They hand out the rest of the leaflets. Her yellow dress swirls. He struts a clumsy dance one hand on his hip, she stamps her feet and circles him. A gold mist envelopes them, is this love blooming on a grey street on a grey day? I check my screen. A Facebook friend posts that it is snowing in Barcelona. Who would have believed it? My lunch is up. I leave them to canter home.
Scotch pie. Pie ‘n’ chips.
Salt and vinegar, just the job.
Wrapped in the news, it cost two bob.
Doon Kirk Loan an roon’ the bend, clutched tae my heart like ma best friend,
Ah fund a bench, and there ah stopped
Spread the feast across ma knees.
Wished ah’d remembered tae ask fer peas.
But now ma frozen fingers pick, first the crust and then a chip
Burnin’ haunds an scalded tongue, salt n’ grease upon my lip.
On frosty nights there’s nothin’ better, pie and chips and bein’ tegether.
A chip fer you and twa fer me.
Hot and steamin’ now the meat, pastry-crusted what a treat.
Lick yer fingers, gies a kiss
Ah love ye doll but widnae miss
Ma Friday nights wi’ pie ‘n’ chips.