To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.
This is my prompt: a woman rushes across the road from the pub, throws something in the bin, and then runs back inside.
Heather rushed into the pub, red-faced and breathless. Bill was in his usual spot in the far corner.
‘Sorry I’m late. Traffic was awful.’
‘I like the anticipation of waiting,’ he said, giving her a kiss, ‘Drink?’
‘Orange juice please.’
As she sat down she slipped her hand in her pocket to check her phone. Her fingers touched an envelope. Where did that come from? And then she realised, Pete must have put it there before she left. She glanced up. Bill was paying for the drinks. She just had time to pull it out, see Pete’s curly scrawl and stuff it back in again before her fiancé returned to the table.
‘How was your day?’
‘Oh, you know...Just a lazy afternoon hanging out.’ She held the glass firmly fighting the urge to touch the envelope in her pocket. ‘How was yours?’ Bill launched into a long description about a problem with a supplier, leaving her mind free to wander. To this afternoon in, Pete’s bedroom, her fingers tracing, not the edge of an envelope, but the length of his spine. The smell of musk, the warmth of his body, the beat of their hearts...She wanted to read his letter. She needed to read his letter. She must read his letter. Now.
‘Are you alright?’ Bill stopped midflow. ‘You look a bit distracted.’
‘I feel a little sick,’ she said, ‘Must get some fresh air. No don’t get up, I'll be OK...’ she walked out and stood in front of the pub. She took the envelope out and burst out laughing. Inside was a picture of Pete, naked on the bed, inscribed with the words 'To keep you going till next time.’ She couldn’t wait and yet...Bill was waiting in the pub.
Oh God, Bill was waiting in the pub, she couldn’t keep this. It would be playing with fire. Across the road, she spotted a bin. Diving between the cars she hurried across, crumpled the photo and threw it in. Much as she’d appreciated the joke, he mustn’t do that again. It was too dangerous.
She hurried back to her seat, where Bill, faithful loyal Bill, was waiting.
‘Are you OK?’
‘Better, thanks. I was just a bit hot that was all.’ She kissed him, trying to dismiss thoughts of Pete, his photo and the afternoon. She couldn’t, she shouldn’t go on like this. She was marrying Bill, and that was that. She threw herself into the conversation with gusto.
In the middle of an anecdote involving her boss, an angry client and a stroppy administrator, her phone buzzed against her thigh. Instinctively, she knew it was Pete.
‘Aren’t you going to get that?’
‘Naah.’ She would call him later. Tell him it was over. And this time she would mean it. She really would.
To find out more about National Flash Fiction Day please visit their website http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/
The National Flash Fiction Day anthology 'A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed' is now on sale.
On Saturday 25th June I will be Writer in Residence at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore, 34, Walton Street, Oxford. Come down between 12-4, buy a book and order a piece of flash fiction while you're at it. All welcome.
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