Flash Fiction Friday – Beyond the Hour

Flash Fiction Friday! After agonising endlessly over Neverland, I figured I should just shut up and distract myself for now. At least until I find a way to power through it without feeling the need to tear off my face.

Man, it feels good to charge through to the end again! Always nice when you can see the end of a story in sight.

I didn’t really have a story in mind for this one. I just saw this prompt in my file

 

and the first few lines came to me. I didn’t let myself stop until I got to the end – which is probably the whole point of a flash fiction writing exercise – and only figured out what the story is about when I got to the end.

This one is about a guy who is reeling in the immediate hour after the death of his childhood sweetheart. It doesn’t really stick to the prompt very closely, though. You’ll see.

* * *

 

Beyond the Hour

A lot can happen in an hour. And a lot can’t.

You can lose someone in an hour – your entire being will slow to the rhythm of her pulse against yours; you will be aware of every sigh and whisper and twitch of her hand, your heart leaping as you fear that is the final sign of life you would detect from her.

You can gain a friend in an hour – or at least, an ally. There is intimacy in loss. The common enemy, Death, will drive you and all the broken-hearted people towards each other, like a bottomless middle through which no sound can escape. A fleeting look, a hesitant pat on the shoulder, a hand grasped in yours, carries more weight than words strung out like listless kites.

You can disappear in an hour – the world is full of nooks and crannies and abandoned places no one thinks to look anymore. It is not difficult. And it’s comforting to know there are pockets to fold yourself into if you wanted – needed – to.

You can condense your memories into an hour – a plodding drive to your usual haunts with her will uncover everything you never realised you remembered. The corner of the pier where you used to watch ships blink their secret codes to each other in the night. The cramped old bookstore at the end of the street where you would spend hours browsing – occasionally brushing against each other in the aisles – before emerging with armfuls of books. The brunch place where you both placed the same orders every time without tiring of them. The coffee shop still keeps the picture of her you drew when you were sixteen. You probably want it back now.

In an hour you can learn more about her than you ever had – the brother she looked up to, the mother who called once a year from halfway across the world, the father she missed dearly but made no mention of. You will ask her brother if you could have a photo of her, when what you really want is to hear the sound of her voice again. The silence, a ghostly shadow that clings to your shirttail, makes a maddening companion.

Close your eyes and you can see her again for an hour – your dreams are a garden in which wild things, beautiful things, things of her, about her, her, are in bloom.

In an hour, you can die and live again. Your eyes will adjust to the colours that she left in her wake. Her name will carve a familiar groove in your skin, your chest, your heart, and you will remember the special way light rippled around her.

An hour later you will live, live and live again. And so will she.

There is always one more hour.

 

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