Barbara Renel

Flash Fiction: ‘at the still point, there the dance is’ by Barbara Renel

Reading Time: 2 minutes

TSS Flash Fiction Competition (Autumn, 2016): 3rd Place

geraniumsEvening. The grandmother waters geraniums: sunset orange, red glow. Flower heads bob as she showers them. Water trickles from the bottom of each saturated pot: big pots, small pots, decorated pots. She moves along the path. The pendulum swings, tick tock.

Geraniums: blood red, scarlet.

As a child, she stood astride the meridian at Greenwich where a circular blade sliced her in two, east west, right left. Like a magician sawing a lady in half; top bottom. North south.

‘Bipolar,’ he said. ‘Medication,’ he said.

‘Fuck you,’ she said.

And she did.

Geraniums in window boxes: bright orange, red passion.

The watering can is empty. The tap squeaks as she turns it on. The harsh sound of water hitting plastic disturbs the silence. As the can fills, the sound softens. The tap squeaks as she turns it off. Water spills. The pendulum swings, tick tock.

Her mother had stayed at home ironing sending her to Sunday school where Miss Simpson, with her doilies and china tea set, hissed and spat good and evil.

GeraniumsGeraniums in baskets: fire red, burnt orange.

She buried her godfather alive under stones in a dank, dark, boggy corner. Her godfather, fat doughy fingers, sniffing round her like a dog. Inside outside. Tick tock.

Geraniums: cherry red, berry.

She shakes the last drops of water from the can. Despite late birds on the feeder there is stillness. She brushes petals to release the fragrance.

‘At the still point of the turning world,’ he wrote.

She’s been there, stepped off that precipice on the edge of time and landed. With a sigh.

She leaves the empty watering can by the tap.

The earth spins around the sun, day follows night. The pendulum swings, tick tock.

That’s all she knows.

Her hips sway gently, two heartbeats to the left, two to the right, arms in counterpoint.

Like a hula dancer.


Barbara Renel: Winner of a number of flash fiction competitions, her work has appeared in print and online publications including FlashFlood journal, Structo and A3 Review. She enjoys working on multi-disciplinary projects; Fire Station Ghosts is a site specific sound work for The Old Fire Station Arts Centre in Carlisle. She enjoys performance and has read at the Arachne Press Story Sessions, the Literary Kitchen FlashFest and is a regular contributor at her local Speakeasy. She originally trained as a dancer, has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and five children. She can be found on Twitter @barbara_renel.

*From The Four Quartets by T. S. Elliot

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