I’m pleased to say that after a three-week absence (sick note to follow) I am back with a very short flash fiction, this time from the steep streets of San Francisco. Nob Hill and Russian Hill are my two favourite neighborhoods of the city, and there is something about the smell of freshly dried laundry wafting from the many corner Laundromats which make me feel very content. Not that this story will leave you feeling like that.
The tone in this one is quite different from my usual stories; it might be a reflection of having been horribly ill with gastric flu. Don’t feel too bad for me: I’m now the thinnest I’ve been for over sixteen years.
When it began, David was surprised to find that he had time to think about the physical properties and capabilities of the timber with which the Laundromat was constructed. He was also intrigued to see how the earthquake altered, ever so slightly, the regular oscillation of the soap suds in the bank of machines.
Outside, on the hill, he was dimly aware of a commotion caused, most likely, by a cable car turning over, spilling and squashing its cargo of surprised tourists.
As the century-old dust was finally freed from the rafters, floating down onto baskets of neatly folded laundry, David glanced at the young woman seated in the corner, by the driers. The look in her youthful eyes wasn’t fear, (they knew this would happen, didn’t they?), but rather annoyance; or was it regret? Now she’d never know the joys of fully blossomed love, or reconcile herself to her mother’s shortcomings.
For a split second, David considered making a run through the tumbling beams and roof tiles; a self-preserving dash to a city laid waste. But fate asked him to linger. He pictured Mrs Harris in the apartment above his; her bony fingers would be clutching the edge of her table as she surveyed the destruction. David hoped she had time to savour the vindication of her life-long prophecy.
Through the din he shouted.
‘I’ve loved this city.’
The rubble in the corner didn’t reply.
© flyingscribbler 2011