Today is National Flash-Fiction Day. No not slash fiction, that weird subgenre where people write about various characters from Harry Potter forming unlikely sexual relationships, flash fiction is basically very short stories.
I didn’t know anything about Flash Fiction, and had no particular expectations when I submitted a very short story to Cardiff’s Buzz Magazine last month. The brief was to write a short story in 320 words. Which I did. It appeared in the April edition of the magazine and it appears below for your (very brief) reading pleasure.
‘The Thumb’ by Andrew Regan
In the moments before she died, Christine Leverton allowed herself to relax for the first time since she didn’t know when.
It was clear that there was no time to remove herself from the tracks before the 8.25 came hurtling through both the station and her fragile impermanent body. So she decided to enjoy the moment.
Her eyes sought those of Mandy Spall. Her longstanding commuting buddy, coworker, and deliverer of mild but relentless antagonism. Mandy looked back in horror.
At the last second, Christine unleashed a gleaming smile, and gave her colleague a bold thumbs-up – before the train ended her abruptly with a damp crunch.
Some days later, Mandy sat at the cafeteria table surrounded by the ravenous eyes and ears of Christine’s former colleagues, eager for the gruesome details.
“It was horrible,” Mandy said, milking emotion from some previously untapped source. “I turned around and she’d vanished. Then seconds later she was on the tracks and… bump!”
She thumped the slightly greasy formica tabletop. The colleagues nodded sagely, some with mouths agape.
But what was troubling Mandy most of all was the thumb. The defiant, cheerful thumb which only she had seen, and which she had mentioned to no one.
“Terrible business,” opined Sheila Hargreaves, elder of the tribe. “Of course, her and Martin had been having problems…”
To the colleagues’ credit, this drew some frowns. Was Sheila really suggesting Christine would throw herself under a train because of some domestic? They disbanded with an air of disapproval.
That evening Mandy was chopping carrots and gazing absently through the kitchen window, across her stunted garden which backed onto the railway line.
She felt oneness with the act of food preparation, until she was startled by the sonic boom of the 18.25. Her hand jumped, and she felt a sharp pain as the knife opened a deep, perfectly straight cut in her thumb, from which blood freely flowed.