‘Awakening’ in Brilliant Flash Fiction

This very short piece (a touch under 300 words) started life as an assignment in Kathy Fish’s superb Fast Flash workshop, in December 2018.

It’s online to read at https://brilliantflashfiction.com/2019/03/31/issue-21-march-2019/

If you don’t care to scroll down through the other stories, it’s pasted in below.

Huge thanks to my fellow-participants in the Fast Flash course, whose comments and suggestions helped the story reach its current form.

By Patience Mackarness

Morning arrives without sun, a raw moist dawn spreading over Commercial Road. It’s a cement-grey pedestrian precinct, thrown up in the hasty overconfident Sixties. Its multi-storey car park once bagged an award for Britain’s Ugliest Building.

In a recess smelling of piss—the long-unused delivery entrance of a long-defunct department store—there’s a heap of cardboard and damp sleeping bag. Some empty cans of extra-strength lager. A disposable coffee cup containing two copper coins. The cup’s lid, inverted and filled with cigarette butts. A half-eaten cheese sandwich, still in its ‘Working Lunch Meal Deal’ wrapper. And not quite hidden in a sodden fold of the sleeping bag, a platinum ring with three small, square-cut sapphires.

In a while, when it’s lighter and the Saturday morning stallholders start moving in, the sleeper will stir. He’ll open first one red gummy eye, then the other. The ring’s brilliance, its uncanny blue fire, will be the first thing he sees, and he will lie still for a while, gazing at it.

He won’t wonder how it got there—not till later, when his head clears—nor speculate that this could be someone’s idea of a spiteful joke, perhaps the hot-dog vendor who has it in for him, who last week poured a cup of cold coffee over him and laughed. He won’t tell himself that a vagrant walking into a pawnbroker’s is more likely to leave with a police escort than a pocketful of cash. He won’t, quite yet, realize that he has seen the ring before. And only much later will he imagine someone standing there in the dark, recognizing his blotched features, even under the grimy beanie hat, even in sleep. Taking the ring off and putting it down, which she can bear to do, rather than meeting his eyes, which she can’t.


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A writer, beachcomber and part-time campervan nomad, based in Brittany

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