One of the assignments in Kathy Fish’s flash-writing class was to create the opening to a story. The challenge was to put in lots of sensory detail, with a teaser to hook the reader in. When Kathy read my contribution, she thought it could stand alone as a ‘micro’ (defined as a story under 300 words, sometimes much less. ‘After the Funeral’ is 92 words.) Although I usually prefer not to leave the reader with too many unanswered questions, in this case I couldn’t resist.
‘After the Funeral’ made the shortlist for Flash Frontier (New Zealand) National Flash Fiction Day, and was the first to be published, on 1st June 2019.
AFTER THE FUNERAL
The room’s white walls suggest a nun’s cell, but Marie has different plans.
She’s only been here a day, but already the Glasgow years feel distant, with the colour and texture of cold mud. From the wrought-iron balcony she can see cobblestones and a lamp post, buttery Provençal light and blue-grey shadows. There’s a pavement café too, a grungier version of Van Gogh’s, nearly deserted in the hot afternoon.
She twists her mother’s red silk scarf around the balcony rail. If there were a crucifix, she would turn its face to the wall.