Friday, November 09, 2012

Flash fiction Friday # 2

Less quick-as-a-flash this time, but purposely kept to 300 words.  An anecdote, mostly heard perhaps third or fourth hand, so must be considered fiction.


'It's astonishing how many people' she said 'don't know how to hem a pair of trousers.  But I don't mind, it means they pay me to do them.'

The man who often came to have his trousers hemmed certainly wasn't skilled like that.  He wasn't very skilled socially either, somewhere on the autistic spectrum, seldom speaking to her or to anyone.  She was easy and accepting round him, not trying too hard to draw him out. She got on well enough too with the young man with Downs syndrome, to whom she gave a regular lift into the town where she had her small business and he attended a day centre.  The few words they exchanged followed established patterns:

She: 'Which CD shall we play?'
He: 'This one.'

He: 'It's nearly the weekend!'
She: 'Yep.  Doing anything nice?'
He: 'Maybe.'

The man who came to have his trousers hemmed would stand silent in her downstairs sewing room as she moved quickly round his feet, pinning and tacking.  He looked away and wouldn't meet her eyes, answered her in monosyllables, paid his couple of dollars on collection and hurried off.

In the week following her sudden and unexpected death, her family - husband and just-grown children - decided to bring her body home for a time before the funeral, trying to give themselves something of the time with her they hadn't had, however little.  They laid her in the sewing room, it was her space, and on the ground floor was easier, looking out onto the garden.

The following day, people came and went, and outside the window of the sewing room, the man who had come to have his trousers hemmed stood, his face pressed to the glass, looking at her and talking non-stop.


marja-leena said...

Wonderful story!

christopher said...

Dropping Dead On Wednesday

You just died, you did.
I don't believe it, cannot.
Not yet anyway.
I press up against
the life of you hemming frays
in my thoughts, my hot
spaces left cooling
in your sudden vacancy,
the sucking black hole
renewed, reformed. Bright
emptiness shatters my eyes
in the very air.

Roderick Robinson said...

Oh, isn't it a bastard trying to avoid complicated verb tenses while still maintaining the correct temporal flow. It may have been the 300-word limitation but it was so important not to say anything about why people need trousers hemmed: that it should be the unexplained theme establishing the story's pre-life and after-life (even though paradoxically the trouser-hemmer died). And congratulations on the tiny, anti-intuitive ending that I am finding so hard to come up with. People only look at dead bodies in silence, right? So let's take him out of the cliché and have him talk. About what? It doesn't damn well matter. A life indeed.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Lucy. Heartrending and beautiful. Thank you.

- alison

Unknown said...

"They laid her in the sewing room", is a story in a phrase. Meanwhile this piece of flash fiction pivots on it. I agree with Robbie there is dramatic tension in the unexplained. Hope you do more.