Nothing Matters

(flash fiction – 500 words)

Nothing Matters

I’ll try to explain but I doubt you’ll get it. The thing is there’s no point to anything. That’s what people don’t understand, that nothing matters. Nothing makes any difference. That’s why I want to do this, that’s why I have to do this, to show you, to make you understand.

Today is not special. It’s not my birthday or anything like that. People will try to explain, but they won’t get it, that’s the point, it doesn’t make any difference, there is nothing to get. We’re all worms grubbing through the earth, eating what comes our way and leaving our shit behind.

It’s sunny. My back is hot while I wait. I like that I’m alone, that nobody knows I am here, but then nobody cares, nobody really cares for anyone else. They pretend, they make noises like they care, but they don’t and I don’t. I don’t need their sympathy, their concerns, boring repetitive words. They go home and forget everything. But they won’t forget me now.

This is the most peaceful I have felt for years, maybe ever. There is nobody up here to tell me what to do, to look at me like I’m not one of them, like I’m not normal, a freak, an outsider, a waste of space, somebody they don’t want to acknowledge or talk to. Today I am truly alone

I have a counsellor. She talks to me. It’s her job. Then she goes home and forgets. She always has to read her notes when I’m there. I’m just a file, a collection of words on a piece of paper. If I tore up the paper and threw it in the bin I’d still be there, but she wouldn’t know who I was. She doesn’t hear what I say, only what she wants to hear, only what fits into the box she’s put me in.

There’s noise below me now. Not individual voices, but lots of voices. Random noise, it comes in waves, in ripples, up to where I am. It washes over me. The time is right. My time. I don’t hate anyone. I don’t know anyone well enough to hate them. I don’t want to know anyone that well, there’s no point.

Today is the day. I don’t why today. It just felt right when I got up. I knew. I dressed, checked myself in the mirror in the hall. My mum said goodbye.

The sun is really hot now, burning through my coat. The metal is cool against my finger. There’s no sweat on my palms, no excitement and no fear in me. I thought I might feel something, but I don’t.

I feel it smooth against my finger, a perfect fit as I pull carefully against it, testing the pressure, the resistance. The noise is louder than I expect, a clean noise, cracking my ear, mixing with the shouts below. If anyone had listened they would understand.

Flash fiction 300 – Late Mail

Late Mail

My phone pinged with a message. I expected it to be a friend, checking in after David’s funeral.

‘Hello Lauren. You think you’ve got away with it, don’t you?’

It was David, but it couldn’t be, we’d just cremated him. Someone had hacked his account.

‘Who is this?’

‘Did you really think you could murder me and not be caught?’

Nobody knew what had really happened other than me and David, and he was dead.

‘David’s death was an accident. Stop this cruel joke now or I’ll report you to the police.’

They police had questioned me, maybe suspected me, but I claimed never to have taken the tiller before, that I was confused, that I was trying to stop the boat. Putting it into reverse was judged by the coroner as an accident. 

‘I saw you looking at me, you knew what you were doing.’

‘You’re not David. Please stop this.’

‘Would the police have believed you if they knew you spent every childhood holiday on a canal boat?’

My stomach lurched. My childhood and my father’s abuse was a closed book. I spoke to nobody about it, other than David, I had trusted him, until he made a joke of it that day, one he paid for with his life.

‘Whoever you are you’re crazy.’

‘Not crazy, but I am angry. And you’ve made one mistake.’

‘You can’t be David, you’re dead.’

‘You still have those photographs.’

I should have burned them. Photographs of me as a teenager, at the tiller, threading my father’s narrow boat into a lock.

I’ve emailed Detective Connery. He knows where the photographs are.

There was a knock on the front door. I looked through the window and Detective Connery was outside, with three other officers.

“Open the door please, Mrs Baker.”

Flash fiction 500 – First Love

First Love

Mary started painting again when she retired to a small village on the coast. She joined a local art group who met in an old chapel. She never saw herself as talented, despite three years at Art College in her youth, but she enjoyed the way the brush moved on the paper, leaving a trail of colour in its wake. Her husband had died the year before and she was now free to express herself in ways that would have previously been viewed as frivolous.

They never had children. In latter years Marcus thought more of his garden than her, treating the lawn with studied care, cherishing his chrysanthemums with the same tenderness of touch she had once enjoyed.

“That’s very good Mary?”

The voice of the instructor made her start. Mary hadn’t been thinking about what she was painting, but on the paper in front of her was the face of a young man, one she recognised even though the nose was a peculiar shade of blue.

“It looks like Peter.”

Mary didn’t know who Peter was. The face before her had been stored in her memory for fifty years. It was David, a boy she had dated and fallen in love with when she was sixteen years old. He moved away with his parents when his father was offered a promotion. For a few months they had exchanged letters, but the interval between each communication grew longer. He never replied to her last letter in which she had enclosed a pressed flower, a silly gesture.

Curiosity drew others to her painting. Mary wanted to cover it with her hands, but let them rest on the table.

“It does look like Peter,” said a woman she thought was called Anne. “You must have met him?”

“It’s just a face,” Mary said.

All agreed that it was an astonishing likeness and someone said that she must show it to David.

“David?” She repeated. Her throat contracted.

“He owns the Three Ducks, Peter is his son. He works there at weekends. You must have seen him.”

Mary hadn’t been in the village inn. She had no objection to alcohol and enjoyed a glass of wine, but Marcus had not been one for socialising.

“Oh I couldn’t show it to him. I don’t even know him.”

“Join me,” Anne said, I often pop in after class.

Mary wasn’t sure, but accepted the invitation.

She wondered where David’s life had taken him. Would they even have stayed together had he not moved away?

“But don’t mention Peter’s mother, she left when he was ten.”

“I wasn’t going to interrogate him.”

When they entered the Three Ducks, the barman had his back to them. Grey hair suggested it wasn’t Peter. He turned and indeed it wasn’t the boy she had drawn, but the man he had become. Behind his shoulder, propped on a shelf, was a small frame holding a dried flower. Many years had passed, but it had somehow retained its colour.