The Writers Bureau Short Story Competition 2019
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2016 Autumn Flash Fiction Competition

2nd Prize

Kym Mason

 

Final Destination

I sit and watch my Aunt. She is like a ball of wool slowly unravelling: not the fluffy cosy type, but thin neat 4-ply with a singular thread of shimmer, hinting at glamour and fun. At first the unravel was orderly. A slow pull in a neat line: an easy path to follow and understand. Now the unravelling is gathering momentum. Messy spills leave tangled knots and somewhere inside the muddled mess, the mental maze, Aunt Dotty struggles to break free.

The illness is cruel and spiteful. Sometimes our eyes lock, and confusion melts like ice under a hot sun. For moments we share recognition and the same reality. Then, like a spaceman, she floats away on her journey towards oblivion.

Burt, Aunt Dot’s long-dead husband, has been resurrected.

“Of course we shall spend the summer in Cannes on the yacht,” she informs me. “Avez-vous visite le Cote d’Azure?” Often she lapses into French.

Always elegant, a tad domineering and authoritative, she has lost none of those characteristics. When she speaks, it’s as if her words have been placed in a cocktail shaker, iced, blended to nonsense then poured out. Poured out and over me.

Destination is oblivion, but there are stops along the way. Sunny and bright is fun. We sometimes breakfast on cocktails and cake; she dressed in garden party splendour. Once she wore a cerise polka-dot bikini and although there was a frost on the ground, I was instructed to apply sun cream liberally. Lost and confused is sad. She sits in corners rocking, frightened. Most distressing are the dark moods. Black thoughts and fears, past angers and hurts all spill out with the outrageous accusations of theft and kidnap. Screamed threats of harm and murder are promised in steely, cold tones. Her venom is chilling.

She appears at the top of the stairs after her nap. She is immaculately dressed, her hair only slightly dishevelled. I smile up to her. She stares back at me. I hold my breath wondering which manifestation her mood will take.

“Where is my bag?” she shouts. This is a daily occurrence.

“Let me help you find it,” I coax, climbing the stairs.

“No you thief!” she screams, and not for the first time, lashes out and claws my face. Not the first time, but it will be the last.

I gently push her and she topples and tumbles down the stairs. From the sound of her fall, I think she broke more than one bone. At last she is quiet and still.

Into the silence I announce: “You have reached your final destination.”

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