Flash Fiction: Breathe, by Kathy Hoyle

3rd Place in the Cambridge Flash Fiction Prize 2021

Breathe

Take a brief moment in time, eyes meet eyes, souls catch fire.

Take his number.

Breathe … now take a chance.

Take a walk by a river, fingertips touching, hearts pit-pattering. Take a moment, in the garden of a friend’s house – voices murmuring, glasses tinkling- to steal a crooked kiss with a teeth-clash laugh. Take a beautiful melody, dance to it, slowly, under a starbright sky.

Take your time, says the sister who knows you better than anyone.

Take a call from that ex, tell him – with a smug smile – that you’ve moved on.

luggageTake a weekend away, wonder what to take, take everything just in case.

Take a test. Take in two blue lines in a white plastic window – try to picture his face when you tell him.

Take a leap of faith, change your mind, change it back again. Take your daughters, one still taking milk from your breast, halfway across the country just to be with him.

Take a deep breath… deeper, deeper than that, try not to sigh before you tell him it’s his turn to take out the trash. Take a moment to remind yourself that things will take time to settle down, it’s a learning curve, you’re a family now.

Watch him leave the house to take a minute – neck flushed, breath heavy, look away when his fist pounds the fence. Take note, this is how he deals.

Take those brief moments in time, moving forwards, feels like backwards, spinning, turning, tempers fraying, daughters growing.

Take advantage of each other.

Take time out – again.

Take six months’ worth of counselling to try and smooth things over and admit, through bleak and angry tears, that it’s taking all you’ve got just to stay. Take the pills.

Take your heart, crushed under the weight of broken promises, carry it to the shore and wash it in the salt-water to heal.

Take in the view while you weigh things up.

Take your time, says the sister who knows you better than anyone.

Take a bag, pack it with new promises, the ones only you can make to yourself. Take the pills, throw them in the piled-up trash can. Take your daughters, bundle them sleepy-eyed into the car, and tell them this will be the coolest adventure they’ve ever had.

Take a breath, deeper, deeper than that…

Now, take a chance.

***

Kathy Hoyle lives in Warwickshire with her partner and two daughters.  She holds a BA (hons) and an MA in Creative Writing and Literature. She was the winner of the 2021 Retreat West Themed Flash Fiction Prize, and the Crossing the Tees Short Story Prize and her story Torn Out Wishes took third prize in the 2020 HISSAC Flash Fiction Competition. She was also a semi-finalist in the LISP Flash Fiction Award and her micro piece My Devil received a Special Commendation in the 2021 Blinkpot Awards. Other Short Stories and Flash Fiction have been both long and shortlisted in several writing competitions including The Bath Flash Fiction Award,  The Exeter Short Story Award, The Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize, Spread the Word Life Writing Prize, Ellipsizine Flash Collection Prize, The Strands International Flash Fiction Prize, TSS Flash Fiction Competition, Retreat West Novelette-in-Flash Competition, Flash 500 and the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Prize. Her work has also been published in a variety of literary magazines including Reflex Fiction, Spelk, Cabinet of Heed, Ellipsiszine, Silver Apples, Lunate, Another North, Sunspot Literary Journal, Crow and Cross Keys and Virtualzine. She is currently working on her first flash collection, powered by tea and jammy dodgers.


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