Monday, 12 September 2011

Flash Fiction - a prose poem

It started the morning Steve’s white shirts came out pink in the wash. Of course Bobby’s new sweatshirt wasn’t colourfast, it said so on the label. But that was the day Colleen phoned to say she had found Mum lying in a pool of blood and could I come as she had an eight o’clock lecture? That’s my darling sister for you: I’m only a housewife with a poetry habit, I can’t have much to do. And of course I went, piling Stephanie and Bobby into the car and the washing into the machine, leaving it running.
Fortunately the blood turned out to be a bit of spin, just a minor head wound where Mum had fallen against her poppy-red kitchen cupboards. But when the ambulance came she had broken her hip and they stretchered her out. I drove behind, my eyes fixed on the carmine cross, stark against white metal. “Will Grandma be long in the hospital? Will we visit every day?” Stephanie swung her Canadian-flag shoes against the back seat, a Daz-white maple leaf on each foot. On the way, the traffic lights blinked amber, red.
There are fifteen sets of lights between home and the hospital. I haven’t passed through on green once in the past six weeks. It’s like having a packet of sweets and never pulling out your favourite colour. The longest wait is Cross Street, a full three minutes. I pick my fingers while I wait, blood flowing into my nails, a crimson lake. Sometimes I plunge through on amber and beat the bastards. But that hasn’t happened for several days: they see me coming with their fixed owl’s eyes.
At night while everyone is asleep I lay out lines of poetry like bricks, cementing each word. I write about traffic lights, about waiting for my life to turn green.

Susanna Reece

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