So lucky

Another piece of flash fiction inspired by reality, to try ease the knots of my mind – it’s been a hellish week …

Heart pounding, blood rushing in my ears, stomach churning, chill setting in. “What?” I frantically whisper. “Say that again?” I’m somewhat naïve, always expecting good news. It’s strange, seeing as I’m a worrier by nature, but I always feel I’ve been punched in the gut with something unpleasant. His phone call changed everything. “I’m fine, I’m OK, but the car …” That’s all that really sank in.

My head was spinning with nonsense thoughts as we sat in the hospital waiting room. He was OK, he had told me so himself on the phone just two hours ago before the endless wait and drive over to collect him, with a few jagged missed turns along the way. The eyes of others waiting to see their injured loved ones wavered on me for a second before moving on to the next poor spouse.

“You can see him now – one at a time,” the nurse interrupted my thoughts and my legs from jigging up and down on the floor as though being jerked around by a hidden puppet master. I shot up, almost knocking my dad out of his seat, and ran after her down the complicated hallway. She entered a code and led me into the secure ward – “Second ‘room’ on the left”, she said before spinning on her heels back to the frantic and unfortunate behind me. I forced myself to calm down. Deep breaths, eyes shut, clenched fists – and I was in. Light blue curtain pushed aside and harsh lighting made him look smaller, bigger, younger, older, paler, more fragile than before. He opened an eye at the noise and smiled slightly. Relief. He really was OK. We got off very easily, considering.

After an endless, admin-filled wait while my mind filled with waves of white noise crashing over each other and he was mine again. We’ll be fine. We are fine.

Car crash, tow truck, ambulance, wheelchair, x-rays, hospital stretcher, father-in-law’s car, hot bath, restless bed. Depression, regret, acceptance. Pain, confusion, insurance, police, back to the real world.

He’s going to be just fine. We were so lucky.

Brother bird day

I conjured up a piece of flash fiction for you …

Kicking up twigs and panting slightly through the bramble bushes, Sophie suddenly stopped when she saw a flash of yellow flicker past, to her right. Must be Johnny in his sunshine shirt. Now she was in a quandary: Just a little bit late! Should she stop or move on? Hide or try to help? Would he actually follow the instructions correctly? Ugh.

Choosing the easier option she sat bum-first on the dusty path, narrowly avoiding Bingo’s squeaky toy. In a rage she tossed it to Far End of the garden … and raised her hand to her mouth as she realised a little too late that it would land with a rubbery, wheezy thump and surely distract Johnny from his task. Luckily, he seemed completely focused on his path and continued toward the red post box. Good. He stuck his hand in and pulled out the clue. She watched his brow furrow from her watch point now, behind Lollipop Tree.  She heard a soft ‘ha’ from his direction (the garden really was quite large and all the foliage dampened the noise). But would he head in the right direction now? He scrunched up the twist of paper and tucked it in his pocket then turned on his heel, first aiming left, then right, then finally, looking straight up above his head. Yes! There, dangling from Triangular Tree slightly to his right, was a shiny blue balloon. Would he know to pop it though, to reach the secret inside? Sophie tried to stop fretting that her surprise would be ruined as she saw him move toward Triangular Tree, He climbed it stealthily and was soon sitting on the branch in question, untying the ribbon from the branch and retying it loosely around his wrist before hopping onto the grass below.

Sophie couldn’t take the suspense anymore. She’d already slipped off her slops and the grass was cool and tickly beneath her feet. Approaching from his blind spot to the side, she leaped and landed on the balloon. POP! Johnny jumped with fright. “Hey! That’s mine,” he told her off. “I know, silly. Look.” She peeled the flaps of balloon apart to reveal the mini origami cranes she had carefully stuffed into the balloon’s neck as a surprise for him. The look on his face made the painstaking process worth it. “Happy birthday, brother bird,” she whispered past the lump in her throat. He surprised her with a tight hug and replied gruffly, “Thank you. I think all the others forgot.” With a sad smile, she took his hand and led him back to the grey stone orphanage. “Mum will be smiling down on you for sure today. Come on! Last one to the dining hall is a rotten egg!” Off they ran …