Emerald Bolts Caroline England A Magazine for Flash Fiction

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Bad Echoes

You laugh, your chin held high, your opaque eyes defiant. "You're a married man; you're outrageous," you say. You say it clearly, but you're drunk, dizzy with applause. You think you're in a soundproof cell, strong and free with your bridle mum and half your life. So you place your hand on his knee and laugh again. "You are outrageous," you say.
     You toss and turn in your hollow bed, bleached lips smacked with need. You close your eyes then stray, footfall heavy in honest white. Your hair is too black, your hands too big, but your hips move to an absent tune as you sleep.
     A storm outside wakes you from sotted rest. The music and the mania are replaced with silence and the howling wind. It tears through the trees, telling you, reminding you of his words. His careless and insidious words. And there's crying, a distant pathetic bleat. You listen, ears finely tuned for the rend of a branch.
But there are no trees, no branches, no firm roots. Just litter strewn streets, neon lights and your pale wet face.

The Living

"But why?"
     She regards me, short fair hair, petite. Her features creased in polite confusion, pale eyes glued to mine, tiny hands held together outside her crisp uniform.
     She gives me a moment and I stare in disbelief, but her eyes don't flicker; she holds my gape with those eyes, so calm, serene, so right.
     The monitors wink above the bed, but the lines and bleeps mean nothing to me. They've elucidated in their flat chary tones, but it's too surreal; my father, vibrant one moment, dying the next. I gaze at the man on the bed, welted with wires. I know its dad, but I don't recognise him. Without the billow of his character, his body seems hollow; yet there he is, huge feet protruding from the narrow boat bed.
     "Because he's my father; because I love him."
     The words spurt from my mouth, louder than intended. But her cool gaze makes them sound scant.
     "And because he loves life, because he's a fighter."
     She shakes her head, almost imperceptibly.
     "You don't even know him," I yell.
     The near-death curtains are drawn, the chart still clasped in my fist. DO NOT RECUCCITATE it says. I touch my father's face; skin pale and waxy, cheeks sunk. The lines of life that etched his face have vanished. I take a comb from my handbag, rake the fringe from his forehead. "Hey, you have no wrinkles," I whisper.
     "It's the consultant's decision. He has the final word." She blinks just a little too soon. "Now if you don't mind..."
     She nods towards the ward, a forbearing look on her fine features. I have the living to attend to, I hear her say, but no words are spoken.
     I lean towards my father. His whiskers have grown overnight. "Don't you dare bloody die," I hiss.


- Caroline England (England)

Caroline England is a novelist and short story writer.
Born in Yorkshire, she studied Law at Manchester University and later worked as a solicitor. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses, and her first novel, A Slight Diversion (both as ACHUKAbooks e-books), Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of magazines such as Transmission, Parameter, Pipeline, Chimera, Lamport Court, Peace and Freedom Press, nr1, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Recusant, Succour, Pen Pusher, Positive Words, Twisted Tongue, 14 Magazine, Radgepacket, White Chimney, Visionary Tongue, Rain Dog, Crannog, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Carillon, The Text, Bad Language, Platinum Page, Litro, Swansea Review, Elohi Gadugi, Burning Houses, Streetcake, Sarasvati and The Ugly Tree.

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 Copyright © Emerald Bolts Magazine, 2012
The front page image is copyright © by Anthony Kitterick, 2012