Saturday, 25 May 2013

There Are More Tears Shed … by Lynne Voyce

Last Quarter's Flash 500 Winner

Imagine the scene…

... a woman in her forties, smartly dressed in navy skirt suit and court shoes, lies, belly down on the grass, head and shoulders over the cliff edge. One hand grips a gnarled, emerging tree root. Splay legged, she gains purchase in the mud with the heels of her shoes. The friction of the turf has ripped her tights. Her face is a mask of pain and concentration. Her other arm reaches down, the strain on the sleeve belying the strain on the flesh and bone underneath.

We travel down to the hand, on it is a tired, gold band. It has been on the third finger of her left hand for twenty six years. The skin of her hand is painfully pale but for the redness of the points where the other hand, gripping so tightly has contact with the skin. The other hand is smaller: a child’s hands.

Today, as the woman sat at the bank taking bags of ten pences from fat market traders, she had longed for adventure. In the toilet cubicle at lunch time she had sat and prayed for excitement, eyes closed, face to heaven, palm to palm. “Please God send me something to break the boredom.” She’d wanted a stolen kiss by the water cooler from Eric in personal finance or for her numbers to come up on the bingo.

Below the small hand is a sun tinged arm, then a shoulder, then a terrified face. A knot of fear and exhaustion. The girl cannot speak, she can barely breath or swallow. She wants to cry out for her mother, even though she is nine and three quarters. She wants to wail to the lady above: “Please don’t let go. I am so scared. How will this be OK? Why doesn’t the help come quicker?”

The girl had been pushed, the woman had seen it happen. A silly fight between siblings taking the short, dangerous way home. The girl had tumbled over the lip of the cliff, finding her feet resting on a soil outcrop. Though in a moment the shelf had crumbled beneath her, crashing to the beach, to be washed away by high tide.

Somehow, already, there was a hand holding hers. A passer by: the woman.

But it is too hard to hold on any longer. In a film there would be a last scrap of strength, a redoubling of effort just as the police arrive. But it is not a film. The drizzle starts; tiny beads of wet slip between their palms. Slowly, slowly the small hands slides down the bigger one, until the grip cannot be sustained. The bond is broken.

The girl falls. The thud, the rattle of shingle can be heard for a mile. There she lies a pink frocked swastika, a blot of deepest red spreading beneath her.

I no longer use my hands to pray for excitement because one of those hands was mine and I let go.

Flash 500 runs three competitions. We have an open-themed category for fiction up to 500 words. There is also a humour verse section, asking for any form of funny poetry, from a limerick to a poem of 32 lines.

Both of the above are quarterly competitions with closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December.

The Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Competition is a new annual competition, opening for entries on 1st May and closing on 31st October.

For information on all three competitions, visit the Flash 500 website: 

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