off track

Competition Eight Highly Commended: Off-Track by

You are in a parked car, in a country lane, in a ballgown.

Electric blue taffeta floats across the gearstick.
The silence is charged. You gaze out through mascaraed tears across frost-covered flat fields. Follow the track of a tiny bird flitting through winter-bare hedges, hunting for berries.

In the driving seat, he is staring ahead, through the windscreen, into the distance.

“Shall we get the map out? It can’t be far?” You are trying, failing, to keep the warble from your voice. Knowing how quickly this could collapse into the familiar rhythm of recriminations.

He rakes his hand through his hair, and he is turning, looking at you, and you feel a flash of admiration at his bow tie smartness hidden beneath his jacket, remember setting off on this journey hoping that today would be different, that you could leave the fissured relationship behind and find your way back together in a new venue surrounded by new people, celebrating a new year, with some threads of hope that have been missing for so long.

And now you are lost.




Denise Bayes writes flash fiction and short stories. She has had successes in Retreat West competitions, NZ Micro Madness, Flash 500 and recently reached the Oxford Flash Longlist. Denise is originally from Sunderland but currently lives and works in Barcelona, a city of constant inspiration.



Photo by Jack Blueberry on Unsplash



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