At first glance, flash-fiction may look like a ridiculously condensed version of its short-story counterpart. Some may scoff and disregard its size as a by-product of the story that couldn’t. But to the keen eye of the creative writer, it’s an art form of its own, a wonderful hybrid between verse, prose and dialogue. It is a challenge. And debut writer to Words, Pauses, Noises, Christopher Moore rises to the occasion in his piece, ‘Half Light’ with immediate story-line that delights the minute it has the reader captured for.
When I was four, my grandmother died. Well, not my actual grandmother. My adopted grandmother. I wasn’t upset. Not really. Not until she reached out of her coffin with her cold-as-marble hands and stared me down with bloodshot eyes, asking me to look after her begonias.
* * *
Biology was always my favourite subject. Emily Burrows was my strongest competition until she took a tumble down the stairs. I didn’t know how those marbles got there and that’s exactly what I told Mr. Branson. I learned the “what goes around comes around” lesson pretty soon after that on Dissection Day. I took the scalpel in my hand, pressed my thumb to the pig’s heart and passed out promptly after it beat. Twice.
* * *
Arthur was my world at The Half-Light Institute. He claimed to be better than me at English but we both knew that to be a lie. We got on just fine. I learned a lot about myself from my time with him. And a lot about him. I learned that I’m – and I quote – “an attention-seeking diva that thinks the world should revolve around her.” I asked him what was wrong with that and he just up and left.
I learned more about Arthur than I probably ever wanted to know. On Saturdays, when he told me he was spending time with his family, he was really playing football with his friends. Sunday evenings when he claimed to be doing his homework, he was rolling joints behind our local cinema. And when he left class on his mysterious toilet trips, he was motorboating Felicity Somers in the janitor’s closet. I didn’t get mad though. I waited and watched. I clutched the bottle of superglue behind my back, smiling as he slipped his feet into his shoes.
* * *
On Graduation Day, my mentor Mr. McAdams was delighted. I was the only student that had set records and managed to break them year after year. I was the only girl to be suspended three times in the one week and remain at the Institute. Nobody came close to my hide-and-seek game that lasted for two days (We had a History test. I hated History) And despite it all, I still made it. Mr. McAdams’ smile vanished though when I accidentally raised the bodies of his dead ancestors. I mean, really, who buries their parents next to a school?
* * *
I rock back and forth in my wicker chair.
Counting the minutes.
Counting the days.
Relishing the memories.
I stare at the windowsill, at the blackened begonia and wonder how I managed to set fire to the plant. I catch my reflection: red-rimmed eyes, papery skin and grey hair. I am reminded why I am sitting in this chair.
And just like that, we’re finished! A snap-shot of a kid unsuccessfully coming to terms with an unfortunate ability. The black humour suits the flash-fiction structure, balancing out the impenetrable gloom of the haunting experiences.
Next, we’ll be posting a debut piece from one of our editors, Caitriona Marron so faithful followers, tune back in next Sunday!