Flash fiction

These are some flash fiction stories that were written as assignments or exercises and never made it to the competitions.


The library I work in is small. No old folios, green lamps or cosy tables. People are different too. Auld fellas taking out westerns and old ladies renting Mills & Boon stories where human organs have names like ‘jade sword’, ‘cherry cave’, and fireworks happen the minute a man drops his pants. Maude and I used to laugh at them in college. Now, looking at these perfectly permed, respectable women I can’t help but feel sadness for their lost pleasure. That might be me one day.
My days crawl. Things pick up only when school kids come to do homework. They are noisy, but I don’t mind. My secret joy is to put notes into the books people take or scribble messages on the pages. A title or an author, a song or a poem that relates to the story, or just my own thoughts. I like to imagine people finding them, wondering who left them. They are like silent conversations with strangers. I know it’s bad to write in books but it’s even worse to ignore them.
I’ve never had any reply to my notes until this old guy started coming in. He is grey and haggard, with a face of a cancer patient and hands of a musician. They shake when he takes books; his breathing heavy as he leans to sign the forms. The first book he asks for is Eugene Onegin and I’m surprised to find we even have it. I leave a suggestion inside for ‘Master and Margarita’. That one returns with ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’, as if he is laughing at me. I give him ‘Gogol – Nose’. It returns with ‘No, Salinger’.
He barely looks at me during his visits but the notes get longer. If he reserves books, I underline passages I like or put question marks next to ones I don’t understand. He writes a plus if he agrees or a page number next to my question mark; never a direct reply. We play this game for a month: ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ to ‘The Collector’, ‘Lolita’ to ‘The English Patient’, ‘Dr. Faustus’ to ‘The Little Prince’.
Until one day he comes to ask for ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’.
We don’t have it.  I’ve never read it either. Then he speaks to me directly for the first time.
“Have a coffee with me…”
 It’s not what I expected or wanted. What to say? I panic. My face must speak for me, because he quickly apologizes and leaves. I want to call in sick the next day. Maude laughs: “What is pity for you is a promise to him. You two are on different sides of the grave.”
He hasn’t come back. I read the book he asked for. I marked a quote, one that taught me something. I hope he is not sick or in the hospital. I might even have coffee with him when he’s back. If he is back.
I hope he knows it’s not pity I feel.


You know that joke? I have a body of an eighteen year old. I keep it in the fridge. In my fridge you could find anything but the kitchen sink. I push the door wide open and go through the shelves. Where is it?
Almost no food here. Leftovers of yesterday’s take away, half a sandwich, one egg, mouldy cheese, nail varnish, make up. Wrong shelf.
Where did I stick it?
While I am at it, open the drawer and pull out a special crooked knife. That’s to cut the ropes. Just in case.
A fresh towel. Bottled water. Plastic bags. Tape.
Handcuffs… Maybe not this time.
You’d ask me why I do this? Let’s just say, to better understand women.
 “Should I tie her up with diamond shapes?” my assistant yells from another room.
“Yeah… Just don’t touch the equipment!” I yell back.
He is clumsy and it cost me last time we worked together.
I don’t like using my house for this little hobby. Too much cleaning up to do after…
Better finish before my wife gets home.
 “Hurry up!” he yells again. “Our lady here is getting cold!”
For f**k’s sake… Can’t trust that guy to do anything…

I plunge my both hands into the open mouth of the refrigerator and rummage around. There it is!

Two rolls of Kodak and one Ilford. Next time I shoot an alternative model, I’m booking a studio.

Procrastination nation

Live and die under the motto of ‘Procrastinators unite…tomorrow’. Tomorrow that never comes. Tomorrow of multi-tasking, to-do list making, then Internet on, and Facebook checking… Cat videos, baby videos, share that with friends, oh god she looks dreadful in that photo, like, like, argue on chat with someone you never met, where is the dislike button, unfriend, report, block.

Good old days of childhood. Summer holidays, all on the balcony, windows wide open, no TV, smell of paint and a tape playing. Days lasting forever. What to do? I have no time to be bored, Mom would say. Do something useful with yourself. I do. Reading, drawing, walking, dancing, watching the birds, talking to the cat. Multi-tasking.

Social networking, social onanism. Shouting into an empty space, sharing things no one wants to know, distracting ourselves to death. What was it again? Never before had so many so much to say about so little to so few. Or was it about blogging? I had sushi for lunch, I got flu, my cat is nuts, I got drunk here is a photo, I want to like people but they are so fucking stupid, what a quote from Gandhi, performed tonight at the show and was amazing, and on, and on, and on… Why are you telling me this?
I want my life back. I want silence back. Like in a bookstore. I want to introvert back into place where things are thought of in secret, where beauty is created, meaning is pondered on, ideas are realised, time is used and boredom not shared.

I want me back to myself.


– Hey dude, what’s the story?
– Once upon a time.

The boy who lost an eye

It was awful, truly terrible. The eye was so round and big, there was no way you could lose it. But the boy was careless. He always lost things – his phone, his umbrella, even shoes. Now an eye. The eye was precious to him. It was new. It was the best thing he had ever since he lost another one a year before. That one was black and didn’t move at all. It didn’t flash red, yellow and green if you squeezed it hard. It didn’t bounce off the floor either. Now the boy has to wait till next Halloween to get one.

The sleepwalker

Katty is a sleepwalker. I only found out when she was a year old. There were no signs before; she always slept quietly at the foot of my bed in her blanket. One night I woke up in sweat from a strange noise in the kitchen. Nothing so small should be capable of making so much noise. There was spilt milk on the floor and the garden door was open. Katty was outside sitting on the bench. I went over and sat next to her. The garden was still and beautiful, drenched in moonlight. Katty’s green eyes were shining as she stared at something I couldn’t see. ‘Come here’, I called out to her and stretched my hand. She
climbed onto my lap, curled up and drifted into sleep. She purred gently as I stroked her ears.

The Devil appeared in Dublin yesterday

 His name was Paddy or Jack, I can’t remember, me head was killin’ me from hangover. He was wearin’ a suit and a pink shirt. Feckin’ fag! He must have been a banker or a builder, one of them bastards who ruined us. I was just sittin’ on the bench rolling one, minding me own business, talking to me mate about a GAA match when this fairy strolled up. Has the poshest souther accent, bloody eejit, and asks how to get to the National Gallery. How the fuck does I know? I’m not some artsy-fartsy pansy hipster. I wouldn’t give a shite if he was one of them immigrants, Polish or Chinese of where the fuck they come from taking away our jobs and screwing our women. But this guy was a feckin’ Dubliner. I was just telling’ me mate about me uncle’s funeral, the whole bleedin’ family of sixty-five first cousins coming over from Kerry and the middle of nowhere to eat all the tea and ham sandwiches, when this woofter asks where the shaggin’ museum was. ‘Feck off!’ I says. ‘Piss off to your side of the Liffey.’ Fecking tie-wearing devils strolling about when the proper people of Ireland are survivin’ recession and can’t afford a bleedin’ pint on a Friday morning!

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