Oi!My America

O! My America by

Long before we emigrated, I wandered by accident into an encampment near our slums. The haphazard plastic chairs, the flies and mosquitoes and the chained yapping dogs were much like those of my own neighbourhood, yet to me the place had a sense of flickering unfamiliarity. I didn’t understand the alien angry words sharpening the air, though the staccato delivery was the same as my father’s, and the dark heavy smell of meat disturbed me: at that time I had only ever eaten rice and beans. A child my own size crawled out from under a van. As she got to her feet the pink of her much-too-big flip-flops caught my eye and I wanted them. I was planning how best to snatch them from her when she smiled at me. I stuck out my tongue and glared. She bent over, took off the flip-flops and fled, clutching them to her chest,  disappearing behind piles of junk. I realised I was alone. Lost, helpless and severed from my world, I sank to my knees and I wailed. Eventually someone grabbed my arm and led me back to the slums.

 

Other images and sounds have grafted themselves to memories of that day: a fragment of dirty yellow tent; the yelp of an unseen beast; a clown’s wig flapping in the mud. I don’t know if I actually experienced those things, but I did come to understand that I’d strayed into the hinterland of that spectacular event the better-off kids told us was the circus.

 

Now my kids are the better-off kids and they beg me to take them to the circus. I can’t face it so Wayne takes them, even though it’s not his weekend. I’ll reciprocate with a baseball game. Alone in my perfect house, without the children’s flickering near-familiarity to confuse me, I know exactly who I am or, rather, who I am not. My knees sink into the plush gold carpet and I wail.  But this time nobody will grab my arm and lead me home.

 

The children return, glowing with circus excitement, and Wayne tells me how awesome it was. In a shiny kitchen too big to hold us close I make hot chocolate for everyone, putting marshmallows on theirs, and they jabber on, interrupting each other, arguing over details, re-enacting the performances for me. I smile at them and set my face to look interested. But behind my half-shuttered eyes I’m thinking of that circus encampment long ago:  raucous, dirty, hostile, alive;  putting on the glitz once in a while to dupe us with a blinding illusory performance, like the idea of a new country, or a family.

 

 


 

 

S. A. Greene lives and writes in Derbyshire. She has words in Janus Lit., Sledgehammer Lit., Flash Flood ’21, Reflex Fiction, Funny Pearls., Ellipsis Zine, Retreat West (micro comp. People’s Vote) and was longlisted in the 2021 Mslexia Flash competition.

Twitter – @SAGreene1

Here are links to some other work by S. A. Greene :-

FlashFlood: ‘Derek’s New Head’  (flashfloodjournal.blogspot.com)
What the Hell Was Your Mother Thinking When – Flash Fiction  – Reflex Fiction
S. A. greene Archives – Janus Literary
Conversations with Beasts (sledgehammerlit.com)
Been a While Since Bad Things Only Happened To Other People (sledgehammerlit.com)
No Dark Surprises In My New Transparent House Ellipsis Zine
An Origins Story  – funny pearls

 

 

 

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“The Shoe and The Flip Flop” by Striking Photography by Bo Insogna is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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