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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blink

Flash Fiction
Length - 500 words

Finished third place in the Northampton Literature Competition Flash Fiction 2014.

You come home to find the front door unlocked when it shouldn't be and memories of your son's troubled past weigh heavy. What has he done this time?

__________

Blink

Oh no, you think, halfway through wiggling your key needlessly in the lock. The last time he snuck home like this you found him sitting on the stairs with his things thrown angrily and carelessly about the hallway. An expulsion, a trip to court, and a change of school later, things were just getting back on track. A streak of red comes away on your palm from the door handle and you shudder as you blink away the memory. He’s been trying hard to control his temper.

You step inside and his bag is by the door, his coat hung up neatly on the rail. That’s a relief. But strangely, yours is missing. Your son emerges into the hallway.

‘Why are you home so early?’ But he just walks straight past you. You go to stop him but then you catch sight of his eyes. They’re red and raw, like he’s been crying.

‘What’s going on? Why aren’t you at school?’

He pauses, and his lips look like they’re about to say something. But then they fail, the movement you spotted was actually a quiver. He’s not even looking at you, you realise. He’s looking through you. Something terrible must have happened.

Ignoring him for a moment, you push through and enter the room he’s just left. You solve the mystery of your missing coat pretty quickly, but the next question is who he’s hidden underneath it.

‘What have you done?!’ You demand, screaming this time. Again, he just walks past you back in the direction of the corpse, whispering something quietly to himself that you can’t make out. The guilt, you realise, he must be in shock.

Slapping him doesn’t help. He takes the blow like a pro and wears your crimson five-piece like a badge. Blink and it’s gone. Memories have never been so corruptible. Fuming, and a little confused, it’s about time you play detective and see to the unveiling.

Looking down, the deathless face is like a mirror and you sink to your knees in horror. The shroud both has and hasn’t moved.

‘Why?’ you whimper. It’s funny, that coat is so thick with blood by now it’s like it’s wearing you.

A knotted ball forms in your stomach, you gave everything, thick and -

When did it get so dark? You beat your eyelids a couple of times to recalibrate and notice he’s holding a letter. It starts to glow. You’re fighting the intensifying light, shielding yourself with a raised, dripping hand until -

Now you remember.

‘I’m so sorry.’ You beg, but it’s no more than a lost whisper between worlds. He explodes into a fury and rips your goodbye to shreds. Words of sorrow burst as fire and when they fall, the darkness is absolute.

You and all the others, so quick to assume the worst in him. Yes, there’s been murder here, but that blood was on your hands. In taking your own life, you’ve taken what’s left of his as well.
 
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