Historical Fiction Fantasy

This story contains sensitive content

CW: in comment section

He’d always hated the judder. Always hated it. It felt like being in a tin can, like he was a sardine packed in oil and jelly. He knew he’d see nothing but clouds if he looked out the window. You’re cloud watching from the wrong side, Georgie would’ve said. Hey, that one looks like a dog, Dad. Dad? Do you see it? It looks like a dog, see! Woof, woof, woof. But he didn’t look out the window, couldn’t, was too busy with eyes on the blinking panel. Somewhere behind him, he heard a click.

and it was terribly funny in that entirely infuriating way that the flowers were the wrong colour. They were pink, and she was sure she’d told Hisako that she wanted the yellow flowers, yellow like butter, yellow like egg, yellow, Hisako, yellow, how hard is it to get yellow flowers? Did she think the pink would look good? Did she think Seiko wanted to see pink? He hated pink, pink was garish and she knew he hated it and how was she supposed to concentrate on the day when she was surrounded by pink? Pink like salmon, pink like blisters, pink, Hisako, why did you pick pink when I said yellow? You’ve ruined the day, Hisako, my day, Seiko’s last day and all he’ll remember about it is fucking pink when he should be thinking about yellow and me and home and not pink and

he caught his reflection in the shop window and wondered when he’d started to look so old. Old and thin and gaunt and not the thirty-odd years that he was. There was nothing to do but straighten the khaki hat on his head and be glad there was no captain around to scold him for it being crooked  in the first place. He patted his pocket. The tin was still there, rattling with soon-to-be devoured fruit drops in every colour of the rainbow, and he could see it already, that smile on her face when he handed them over. She’d count them out and name the colours she’d learnt when he was away, and he’d look at her and wonder when she’d gotten so tall, when she’d gained so many words, when she’d started to look so much like

he could see it, a squirrel, there was a squirrel, fat and bushy and scampering down the bark and he needed to get it, needed to get it, getitgetitgetitgetit, but he tugged and the leather bit his neck and nonononononono he needed the squirrel, needed the squirrel, needed fur between his teeth as he tore down to bone, needed the red on his tongue, the sweet red, the red that tasted like the bottom of the water bowl, the good red, the sticky red red red red red red red, get the fur, get the red, get it, get it, get it, get

his hands would smell of metal all day now, just because someone had the audacity to go on a drunken rage at eight o’clock in the morning. He could feel the man’s spine as he pressed him against the wall, sharp enough to cut through the man’s shirt and into his own uniform and Christ, he didn’t have the energy for this. He still had sleep in his eyes, porridge on his tongue, the weight of last night’s late shift pressing on his neck. He could just let the kid go, that would be easier, but this wasn’t about energy, this was about duty and authority and all the other words Father had said when he’d pushed the application over the table to him all those years before. He should’ve been a carpenter. Linseed oil under his nails, splinters digging joyfully into his skin. Time for porridge in the morning, time for Kiyo in the evening, time, he wanted time. Just time, was that so much to

puffy white, he could see it from the rolly chair, like the clouds Mama let him eat, the sweet ones that stuck to his face so that he could lick down and taste it for the rest of the day. And that one looked like a dog, wan wan wan, and that one looked like Papa and that one looked like

it was a buzz that made her cough, the first breath of grey from the cigarette Yuki handed over to her. She pinched it between her fingers and Yuki laughed and so she laughed back and then she was coughing and Yuki was laughing even more and she wanted to kiss her through the smoke, through the grey, through the taste of tobacco on their teeth. But Yuki had stopped laughing and was telling her how to get the smell out of dress before she got home, before Ma could smell it and give her a walloping and turn her rants into something about grades and homework and why she didn’t have a gentlemen friend, even though she knew that if she did, Ma would give her the same walloping, the same rant, the same endless vitriol that choked her like smoky grey and Yuki’s eyes and left her wondering whether it was even worth it to be alive at  

they were kicking that ball again, the little bastards, along the road and right to the patch of stone by his feet. They wanted him to kick it back but he caught it under his cane and gave them a look to rival the Devil. He leant back in his chair, creased hand still on the cane. Their teary eyes made him smile, toothy and satisfied. Children these days just didn’t know what

she was picking trimmed-off stalks from her skirt and itching the pollen from her nose when he walked in. Two dozen pink roses, he’d said. Her heart dropped silently. She tucked her hair behind her ears and hoped to tuck the disappointment away with it. Like a stray handkerchief, a worn one covered in holes from its constant use, just the same as her fondness for the man before her. Every day he’d walk past. Look in the window and admire the buds, then look to her on the other side. She’d smile, hoping he’d admire her just as he did the colourful blooms. He always walked away. Today, he walked in. We’ve just sold the last of those, I’m afraid, Sir, she finally said. Who were they for?  He smiled back. A gentle thing that left not a line on his face. A rare thing, she realised. Well, he looked bashful, every inch of him blushed, if you could tell me what your favourite flower is, then I was hoping they would be for you. She felt her hair fall over her eyes. And then he reached forward and tucked it back, back but not away. Oh, she softened her grin. My favourite flowers are

it was Papa’s day today. Big hand on the four. Small hand just past the eight. She sat by the window and waited. He’d appear at the end of the street soon. He’d be wearing his Fighting Hat. She huffed a cloud onto the glass and drew a picture into the patch it made. Papa in his Fighting Hat, her in her Big Girl Dress, the one Obaachan laid out for her last night, with the big bow and the flowers. And Papa would take her to get sweets and they’d eat them at the park and maybe he’d tell her about Mama and maybe he’d let her come with him to

and what was he to do but fall to the ground. The air whistling around him, the little boy that he was, falling, falling, falling, until he wondered if he would ever reach the ground. But that was the point, wasn’t it? Fall, fall, fall, right to the ground. But he was still high up, high, high, high, and the world looked so tiny below him, stacks of boxes that weren’t boxes, filled with ants that weren’t ants, so far below. Far, far, far. Fall, fall, fall

My God, what have we done?

February 19, 2023 23:46

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Amanda Lieser
18:18 Mar 03, 2023

Hey Elizabeth, This one was in ridding creative. I thought you did a great job addressing the prompt while maintaining the importance of your theme. I really enjoyed the way this story bounced around and reminded us how we can bear witness to, maybe even be victims of, incredibly historic moments without even realizing it. Nice work!


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Janey El Napier
23:49 Feb 19, 2023

Howdy readers! So, ‘form’ isn’t really in my remit. I think to do a fragmented story such as this one and to do it well requires a certain kind of skill that I’m rather sure I don’t possess. But it was fun and a little different for me and, also, I haven’t written a short story in such a small amount of time for a long, long while. The message that this one explores is important to me and something that shall forever need discussing, even if its not a blatantly obvious message from the first read. Nothing is more bleak than the human need t...


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Janey El Napier
23:47 Feb 19, 2023

CW: explicit language, some passing mentions of blood/gore, overarching themes of death and war, (SPOILER: the story’s setting is Hiroshima which is one of the most horrifying things to ever happen in human history. Whilst this story happens entirely in the last moment before the occurrence, the theme is not a happy one, which I suppose is why I did it. Anti-war messages are as important now as they were back then.) If you think anything here might upset you, please don’t put yourself through reading the story. Your mental wellbeing is more ...


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