Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the thirty-sixth piece of flash fiction in this series. This week’s is a 500-worder entitled ‘I Dream of Violence’ by horror, crime, thriller author, interviewee and spotlightee AJ Kirby.
I Dream of Violence
Eight years old and only just grown out of Transformers tee shirts, but still rather enamoured with waist-coats in the style of Han Solo in Star Wars, my mum and dad sat me down at the breakfast bar one day in front their big Ban the Bomb poster. Said they had something important to tell me. Something to do with why I’d kept getting ill recently. Something to do with why they hadn’t let me play out a while.
They told me I was going to hospital.
It wasn’t so much the operation that worried me (after all, I’d played Operation many times and was fairly confident I could handle all that stuff) but the being away from home thing. What if I wet the bed?
Dad must have spotted my worry and, feeling guilty, he offered me a bribe. A present. Mum shot him a fierce look but said nothing.
I thought he’d forgotten, but he said the same thing when I was in the hospital bed under those sheets pulled so tight I couldn’t kick my legs.
‘Choose anything you want,’ he said, reaching over the bed and touching my arm. I noticed the twitch as his hand brushed past the drip which was embedded in me.
‘I want a cap-gun,’ I said, knowing that my predicament put me in an excellent bargaining position.
A look of unspoken disappointment passed between my parents then. My mum’s eyes chastised my father for his neglect to install a proper clause in his promise which would disallow weaponry of any description.
‘In the morning,’ they said, back home. ‘All good things come to those who wait.’
But in the morning, woozy in my just-changed bedsheets, there was still no sign of my cap gun. And when they came to pick me up, the thing dad was holding behind his back wasn’t a gun at all, but my sister. She was hiding from me because I smelled hospital-weird, she said.
Perhaps they hoped that in time I would forget, but for a young boy brought up in a house with no instruments of violence, guns had become my holy grail. I don’t think they properly understood my determination to be Han Solo blasting Greedo, my love of the bomb they wanted banned.
Over breakfast, it was all looming silence over the wholemeal toast and uneasy passing of the low fat butter between my parents. In the end, it was left to my mum to explain. ‘A little boy blinded himself with one of those cap-guns. It was on the news. I’m sorry, David, but we can’t let you have your present. You can choose anything else though.’
And in that moment, full of childish wisdom, I was certain that mum had been the one that had blinded the boy. She was, I knew, full of more cold, hard will to win than even the toughest military men. She had intervened, done whatever it took to keep her boy from having a gun.
That was great, thank you AJ.
AJ Kirby is the award-winning author of five novels (Paint this town Red, 2012; Perfect World, 2011; Bully, 2009; The Magpie Trap, 2008; When Elephants Walk through the Gorbals, 2007), two novellas (The Black Book, 2011; and Call of the Sea, 2010), one novelette (Bed Peace, 2011) and over forty published short stories.
He is also a sportswriter for the Professional Footballers’ Association and a reviewer for The Short Review and The New York Journal of Books.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with urban fantasy author and artist Shonna White – the three hundred and eighty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.