Flatland (1) Tony Added£1.29
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(A short story of 2683 words)

Flatland (1) Tony


by Suzanne Bowen

The first of two companion stories about people returning, in disappointment, to live in their south-coast hometown. Both have something to conceal.

He’d been standing like that for twenty minutes, on the beach, leaning against the sea wall, staring out to the island three miles across the blue-grey water. He liked the picture he had of himself in his mind’s eye. A classic photo, one of those black and white arty French jobs from the ‘fifties, standing there on the beach, in profile, solitary against the skyline, muffled against the cold, squinting, smoking a roll-up. The day was bright enough for the island’s main town to be just visible – trees, a spire, some impression of houses, perhaps. Years had passed since he last crossed the water to visit relatives in their over-furnished houses. The relatives were long gone. Gone to Heaven via Devon, he thought – or was it something his mother would have said? Probably.

Aware of a prominent stone pressing between his shoulder-blades, he shifted his position, allowing himself to slide down the wall toward the large shingle, gingerly checking for used condoms and dog-shit before sitting. But his luck was in – it was clean. The shingle was still as hard on the backside – the only sand being closer to the shore – but he managed to create a tolerable indentation. The January sun was already high at 10:45 a.m. in an almost cloudless sky. He hated the winter and found the existence of regions of blank, white, frozen waste proof that there was no God. The days were getting longer, though, at least there was light at the end of the tunnel, at least it wasn’t November…

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