Meeting An Ambulance For The First Time

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.

Automated Telephone Responses Don’t Have Managers To Punch

‘Hello?’
‘Please speak clearly.’
*coughs*
‘Hello?’
‘Hello. How can we be of assistance?’
‘I need to pay for parking.’
‘Please repeat your registration number into the phone.’
*coughs*
‘HY07LHT.’
‘We need words, sir.’
‘What?’
‘Words.’
‘But I gave you the letters?’
‘Letters make words.’
‘So… you need words?’
‘Words containing letters, yes.’
‘Why?’
‘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?’
‘Words. Please.’
‘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?’
‘NO!’
‘Pardon?’
‘Wrong. It’s HY07LHT.’
‘Your accent-‘
‘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.’
‘WHAT?! WAIT-‘
*muffled screams as phone is placed in pocket*
‘Sir? Sir? Can we assist at all, sir?
*hitting sounds*
‘Hello, 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.’
‘Complaint.’
‘Apologies, sir. We can’t understand your accent. Please try again.’

Happy National Flash Fiction Day!

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!

Air Tax In The Hydrogen Undergroung

Imagine everyone in this carriage is single,
the advert gleams as we rocket through
scratched paper arteries, old posters
selling CCTV smiles, powered by oysters.

We try the hydrogen Overground
learn to breath each other’s exhales
during months that we are closer
to people we don’t know, than the ones we do.

We pay for limbo, hope the quick outside
is still there when we step back into it.
The street churches become lungs,
break dancers undo their feet to choir music.

People will say things like South-West girls are hotter
than North-East girls
. No-one looks like where they grow up.

I shout trebuchet?! at a taxi driver, he shrugs
and throws me out anyway. I expect
cockney shouting and football chants
knocked over in the road.

Grease hardens in chalk outlines of dead men.
They will walk in the parts of buildings
made by the sun sinking lower.
Women will listen for heavy breathing.

I cannot find grass that wasn’t put there
by a government official demanding Air Tax.
We will worry about the gangs
but beg to turn the lights out, to stay green.

Day 5: Gobstoppers Are Not A Make Of Shoe

The coat hanger by the front door is upside down.
A pile of jackets sleeps under it.
I’m certain that soon, enough cold people
will come over to fill them.

I wear my shoes on my head.
You tell me not to walk to you like that.
I put a Converse in your mouth,
wait for you to chew.

These laces aren’t firecrackers,
I can’t talk surprised anymore.
I have rubber band Christmas jokes
and plastic-cast PING frogs.

That’s all.

You weren’t selling Mormon merchandise
or window cleaning blades or subscriptions
to magazines that sell things that make
your house smell like outside on the days
when you can’t fill the space of a coat.
You didn’t want my vote or recipe
for a time machine or my in-sole size
or a fingerprint to confuse a Zebra’s
body paint with.

It was nice to meet someone
who followed the conversation wherever it went.

Semtex Is The Perfect Perfume For A Lover

You were jealous of the butterfly flock stuck in her eyes.
You determined that she’s a doll.
I told you that makes her easy to break.
Some people want that.

When I mistook love for a butterfly flock,
she was standing in a library spotlight,
batting the kaleidoscope wings
curled on her eyelids. I asked if she liked jazz
and stumbled in all the right places.
She found a drawing of mine that wasn’t finished
and when I coloured it in for her,
she said she would put it on her wall.

I killed hours and laid them at her feet.
She never wanted to spend more time.
Some people catch a lot of dust in their eyes,
or they just like blinking too much.

When my girlfriend called, I ignored it and texted
‘busy, call later, love you,’ most days.
She drew me a blueprint of a family,
a house, with a dog, that could run and we had kids
with names and I would golf at weekends
with her friends, who had names,
who spoke like reunions and I never made jokes,
because my tongue is a baseball bat, most days.
We didn’t have common interests in sport.

I gave her a stick of dynamite for our anniversary.
When I left, the decorators had finished
putting up blue wallpaper,
after two years of promising to turn up to do it.