2nd place in the winter 2019 TSS Flash 400 Competition

Why are you running?

My dad was fifty-seven when he died of a heart attack.

 

Why is the church at the top of the hill?

The church is at the top of the hill, at the highest point in the village, for political reasons.

 

Who is that stood outside the church?

It is the vicar, hands on hips, like God isn’t dead, only pissed off.

Her legs are covered in black nylon, probably stockings, possibly not.

Vicars can be female. Sexist to think: female vicar, not: vicar. Female vicars are not about sex, but are all about sex. Everything is about sex because

I am a man. There is sex in hair,

in painted fingernails,

in ankle socks.

Women can’t be priests.

 

Who are those people?

Boys and girls in uniform, old men and women in uniform, a man in a long red cloak, all with heads bowed.

Children wearing neck ties and badges sewn along their arms. A boy blowing a trumpet. The Last Post. A woman placing a wreath of poppies at the foot of the memorial.

The wreath is made of plastic.

A man in a long black coat reads

a Wilfred Owen poem. Words in this order are powerful.

Sweat runs down my back and chest and I want to tell someone my great grandad was at Dunkirk.

 

Why are those people sad?

They are sad because

many people died. Yesterday I put money in the shaker but didn’t take a poppy — they’re made of plastic.

Now, you can buy white poppies. This is political.

 

Do other animals mourn the dead?

Elephants cry and mourn their dead.

Chimpanzees, gorillas.

Dolphins, whales.

 

Why do people pray?

I couldn’t say.

But the vicar is still there, outside the church, stood on top of the world, closer to God than me, wearing black stockings.

 

What matters to you?

All that matters is the truth.

 

And what is the truth? Tell it plainly.

That the world moves too fast and every decade we must learn we’re going to die all over again.

***

Adam Lock won the STORGY Flash Fiction Competition 2018, was placed third in the Cambridge Short Story Prize 2017, and has been shortlisted twice for the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2018. He’s had stories appear in publications such as MoonPark Review, Former Cactus, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Reflex, Retreat West, Fiction Pool, Ellipsis Zine, Syntax & Salt, Occulum, and many others. You can find links to his stories on his website: adamlock.net. He’s also active on Twitter at: @dazedcharacter. 


You can also read Adam Lock’s 1st place flash fiction, Cubism, here.


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