Friday, 25 July 2014

Flash Fiction Friday By Alex Fairhill

 The Passing

By Alex Fairhill

“Tall double soy latte and an avocado and tomato toastie. Enjoy.” A flick of the server’s long, platinum blonde purple-tipped ponytail exposed a logo for the local TAFE.
“Excuse me, is that gluten-free bread?”
“I’m sorry, sweetie. Did you order gluten-free?” Eyebrow raised. You, the customer, are clearly wrong.
“Yes, I did.” Of course she did. She was allergic to wheat.
“I’ll fix that for you in a jiff.” Chipped acrylic nails whipped the plate off the table and the tight, shiny black skirt swayed back to the kitchen.
The woman watched a middle-aged man thump rhythmically past below the window, iPod strapped to one arm, dog to the other. His fluorescent pink running top darkened what could be seen of his tanned face underneath his Ray-Bans and baseball cap. He overtook a young girl – teenager? Early 20s? She found it hard to tell now – whose running action was paced so as not to dislodge her earbuds, perfect plait or mascara. Both runners wanting to be seen for different reasons.

When she was young she lived at the beach. She swam, surfed, ran, and didn’t appreciate the wind on her face or meditative effort needed to pick her way through the seaweed and jellyfish washed up on shore. She, like all kids her age, joined the surf club, was a nipper, and took on her allocated rosters when she was old enough, watching other swimmers play King Canute with the waves. It was her home away from home. It was a home better than home, where the waves were the only things that thundered. She felt part of something, valued, noticed. She never saved anyone, bandaged a foot or poured vinegar on a jellyfish sting. Every one of her shifts – twice a week, six months a year, for five years – was entirely uneventful. She would sit at the same window she was at now, willing something to happen to break the monotony of the ocean’s summer drumming, then feel guilty about wishing someone ill just to stave off boredom, and drink another Coke to keep up the appearance of alertness. That was what she was doing when John asked her out.

The same window, yes, but there was no cafe upstairs then, only plastic chairs, a megaphone and the sill of the sliding window where she’d prop her bare, sandpapered feet on hot days. The rehabilitated dunes had inched towards the beach over time, and a new surf tower on the high tide line held sentry over the swimmers now. The only constant was the lifesavers’ red and yellow caps. Even the rips had changed position once the breakwater was lengthened.

She sat, watching the waves and scanning the faces in the cafe for familiarity, but found none, nor did anyone recognise her. It was the same at the funeral. She’d arrived late – not to make an entrance but to hide it – and slipped discretely in and out the side door, avoiding the inevitable question of how she knew John.

 Welcome Alex! Thank you for participating in Flash Fiction Friday. I am transported to summer through this writing. Especially as I spend as many hot days as possible at the beach. Now who is this mysterious John? What is the history? A youthful love turned sordid affair later in life? 

Tell us three things about yourself Alex.
  1. I write because ... it’s the only way I can keep my imagination from taking over my real life.
  2. If I was a character in a book I would be ... according to an online quiz, Hermoine from Harry Potter.
  3. My super human power would be ... I already have one. But I can’t reveal it for national security reasons.

To connect with Alex and learn more ...

Twitter: @alexfairhill

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