My bike disappears into the dark, plummeting with the postman and the dog chasing him. There’s a black hole where the street should be. My new paper route is complicated. I let go at the right time.
Sophie’s house is opposite me. I know her from school. She drinks apple juice from decayed lava lamps.
“Mum says we need to recycle,” she told me once, her teeth tanned with sugar.
“You have it easy though, you can throw it all out of your window and it won’t be seen again.”
Her street owes me a new bike. She’s off-loading training bras out of her bedroom.
“OI!” I yelp.
“What?! I’m too old for them now.” She double takes. “Oh hi! How are you?”
“My bike’s gone.”
“So, today will take you a while.”
“Can I have it back?”
“Ask the government!” She slingshots a frilly, baby-blue breast nest into the void.
“But, I need it today.”
“We’ve wanted new tarmac for years… says Mum. It’s got worse.”
“How do you even get to school?”
She giggles. “I climb along all these buildings. Free running, woo! I want Mr Sanders to add it to the P.E curriculum.”
I look into the swirling street. The bras are drifting down, atoms replaced by nothing. Fibres erase to naked. The postman’s scream didn’t have a chance to materialize. My bike is vanishing with all of our shared years of BMX ramps and WD40, the scuffs and mud slides. I still have scars from the blackberry bush we head butted.
“They won’t disappear…” I mutter to myself.
“Why are you delivering on a Saturday?” Sophie’s voice leaps at me.
“I thought I’d have more time… Take the new route slower, get to know it…”
“Ah. Well, you’ll need a better plan for this street!” She laughs and disappears from the window for a moment. She then springs up and launches a rope made from her remaining training bras. The end lands by my feet at the edge of the curb, before the colour becomes a downward drain. “Do you wanna come up and hang?”
I look at my bag full of papers, at the Mayor’s stupid smiling face on the front page, all pumpkin-grin and fake tanned. I grab the bra-rope. “Why not? It’s recycling right?”
Sophie tugs on the rope and begins pulling me into her room. “I’ll teach you free running. And I bet you can’t wait to see the black hole in my room!”
My BMX friends carve summer into a WD40 smell. The spray can fix anything. I start using deodorant. I don’t have a BMX, I just use the smallest bike in our garage.
We hang at a park every evening. One time, a girl on a swing asks why I keep one of my eyes closed. I tell her it’s because of her face, when really, it’s because the sun is falling at the wrong angle. She doesn’t talk to me again, until she remembers I’m the boy who threw up through my trumpet in assembly in Year 4.
We get rusty from talking about kissing too much, stop at Steve’s for a can. We sit on the driveway, imagining ourselves in years to come, clad in motorbike leather. Steve’s younger brother calls me a faggot for having lights on my bike as he zips past us. The other’s laugh. I shrug. My eyesight’s not great at night.
On my way home, I find him curled in his inner tube, bike spokes where his voice box should be. I don’t have WD40 on me. I tell the ambulance driver this as the blue lights filter in. Paramedic says the spray wouldn’t fix anything and once he’s happy I didn’t see anything, he tells me to go. I place my bike lights in the boy’s hands so he can get home too.
‘Please speak clearly.’
‘Hello. How can we be of assistance?’
‘I need to pay for parking.’
‘Please repeat your registration number into the phone.’
‘We need words, sir.’
‘But I gave you the letters?’
‘Letters make words.’
‘So… you need words?’
‘Words containing letters, yes.’
‘We don’t understand your accent, sir.’
‘I don’t have an accent.’
‘Your accent is the problem, sir.’
‘How is saying more going to help then?’
‘IT IS A WORD. HY07LHT!’
‘Wrong spelling, sir. Please repeat.
*various stifled screams and hitting sounds*
‘FINE. Hiroshima… Yankee… Zero… Seven… Lambourghini… Hitler.’
‘Thank you, sir. Your registration plate is H…Y…Z…S…L…H…T, correct?’
‘Wrong. It’s HY07LHT.’
‘I said Zero for 0 and Seven for 7.’
‘Zero and Seven are words, sir.’
‘I KNOW! You asked for words.’
‘But you just gave us numbers, sir.’
*muffled screams as phone is placed in pocket*
‘Sir? Sir? Can we assist at all, sir?
‘Hi. Forget it. I missed my train. I want to register a complaint.’
‘Absolutely, sir. In order to be directed to the Complaints Department, please repeat the word ‘complaint’ into your phone.’
‘Apologies, sir. We can’t understand your accent. Please try again.’
The first major step I took in my career as a writer (other than choosing Creative Writing as a degree) was starting up a flash fiction blog with some of my fellow writers at university. We became The Flashnificents, a collective who tackled a new prompt every week to write stories under that theme. We have been doing this for two and a half years! Every story can be found here: http://theflashnificents.tumblr.com/
Our initial inspiration came from one of the fathers of flash fiction writing, Calum Kerr, who was a lecturer on my course and a leading writer in the growing genre. He has coordinated every National Flash Fiction Day after he developed the idea three years ago. Now, as Director of NFFD, he is responsible for publishing two anthologies of flash fiction that celebrate the talents of all writers engaged with this form.
Today will be full of flashes, flash fiction floods and global events filled with flashing writers! If you would like to find out more, visit the website here: http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/index.html
I will be posting a couple of flashes throughout the day too!