This is the flash I got a 'highly commended' for in the Poised Pen Another Place competition.
First, the picture prompt ...
Photo by AJ Walker
He watches himself at the water’s edge. The sky’s heavy, the grey blanket sea breathing at his feet. Standing upright feels like too much effort. It would be easy to sink beneath the damp sand or be swept out to sea on the tide.
Tim observes himself from a distance these days. It’s easier. Safer. It wasn’t worth going anywhere or talking to anyone. He always messed up. He lives mainly in his head. Free. Protected from embarrassment.
Mum says he made friends easily as a child. There’s a photo of him in her album. Early eighties. Three year old Tim on the promenade hand in hand with two teenaged girls. Sisters who stayed for a week.
‘They fell for my little Timmy. You called them ‘my ladies’. You cried when they went home.’
Of course Tim didn’t remember. He stares hard at the photo, willing himself there again. The girls are laughing. Big hair, leggings, fluorescent lime green and orange tops, fingerless gloves. Tim’s in shorts and stripy t-shirt, swinging between them with an expression of pure delight. Carefree and happy.
Within a decade he’d found himself unable to look at or talk to the guests. Mum would push him into the dining room with a teapot, a loaded toast rack and a prompt. He would mumble, making a fool of him
He watches a ship pass, experiencing a surge of anger towards the folk on board, folk who always said and did the right thing, who talked, laughed, lived, made love, did everything casually without thought.
There’s another vessel close by. A dingy with two women in. One of them gives a cheery wave. Tim sees himself turn.
No! What if they aren’t waving at him?
But there’s no one else on the beach.
They’re giggling and calling out words he can’t catch. He stares at them. They’re alike, mid-forties maybe.
They are waving at him.
Could they really be back after all these years? How did they recognise him?
He watches himself run into the water to greet them and, without giving it a moment’s thought, follows.
Me reading 'My Ladies' at the Poised Pen event on Friday 4th December. I also read 'Hot and Sweet', 'Tiswas' and 'To Do List' in the open mic. Thanks to judge Nik Perring for choosing my flash, to AJ Walker for the photos and to the Poised Pen Writers Group for the competition and the reading opportunity ...
Photo by AJ Walker