‘Between the Lines’ A new flash fiction.

Continuing the theme of stories inspired by my recent holiday to Spain, I have come up with this piece of flash fiction. True, the link to Spain isn’t immediately obvious, but it really was inspired by something I saw whilst there; and there’s a photo at the end to prove it.

Between the Lines

When Maria had said she wished Carlos could stay longer what she actually meant was ‘for goodness sake just leave your wife and move in with me.’ Carlos, who entirely lacked the ability to read between the lines, (a shortcoming which had once lost him a considerable sum in an unfortunately-timed share purchase), simply shortened his journey by cutting across the construction site opposite her apartment.

Maria wasn’t ungrateful for the extra ten minutes this afforded their love-making, reasoning that with twice-weekly visits, the hours would soon add up. Nor did she begrudge the extra ten minutes spent sweeping away the dust afterwards. Carlos was, after all, an easy man to love: presenting her with the first of many sunflowers, he had, somewhat clumsily, announced, “your smile stays with me as surely as this flower follows the sun,” after which he never appeared without one. It was, he said, their “thing”, like some couples have a song.

His visits ceased at about the same time the stalling economy left the cranes rusting above the building site. Maria followed the news of his sudden disappearance at a distance appropriate for an unknown usurper, grief at her loss causing her to sweep invisible dust from her floor and to keep a vase filled with fresh water for a sunflower which would never need it.

The cash-strapped police were understandably grateful to call of the search with his wife’s revelation that Carlos had been planning to leave her for another woman.

‘I was so sure I could read him,’ explained Maria to a long-suffering confidante, ‘I knew I was sharing his love but it never once felt that diluted.’

She couldn’t imagine who had stolen his heart from her; or her flowers.

Months passed and the silent cranes continued to loom impotently over the rubble. Well-worn tracks now criss-crossed the site affording time-saving dashes to local residents running late for work. Maria, grateful for the ten minute leeway in her morning routine, joined her neighbours in their daily trespass. The sunflower, when she saw it one day in June, seemed impossible; it was like a desert mirage, sprung optimistically to life amongst the dust and girders. She understood its meaning at once, as Carlos perhaps would not have done; the forensic investigations which followed her call merely confirming what the flower so bravely declared.

Mourning her loss for a second time felt unkind, gratuitous even. Maria coped by nurturing the seeds scavenged from the site of Carlos’ first resting place. In time she hoped the flowers would follow the sun as surely as the shadows cast by the cranes progressed across her balcony each evening.

© Justin N Davies

Image:author’s own.

If my photo inspires you too, please feel free to write your own story. If you do, please let me know in the comments section. Leave a link there if you wish. This is an equal opportunities blog.

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10 comments on “‘Between the Lines’ A new flash fiction.

  1. Chuck Allen says:

    Great story, Justin. I liked the contrast of his inability to catch little clues and her ability to notice little things. Very fun to read.

  2. I love the symbolism of the cranes, of progress and then progress halted. I find cranes very evocative because they shape our skyline & view of the horizon

  3. John Wiswell says:

    Okay, coming off the claim that this was inspired by your actual voyage, that it leads with a request for infidelity is too funny!

  4. What a great story, just perfect fit for the photo.

  5. Icy Sedgwick says:

    I love how you made a story out of something that initially looks quite bizarre, and at least Maria could rest easy that he hadn’t left her for another woman.

  6. Very nice imagery here. Going to second the approval of the cranes’ shadows.

  7. eyrea says:

    I did *not* see that coming. Great twist — like something out of a Hitchcock film. I loved how it moved from sort of lumpen-reality to the outright transcendental.

    I love the photo too. I may take you up on your invitation.

  8. Steve Green says:

    Maria is certainly going to cling to those memories. At least now she won’t have to time-share her lover.

  9. I love your use of the photo from the trip. It always makes you wonder how something like that got there.

  10. adampb says:

    Great symmetry in the characters and the world around them.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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