Flash Fiction: Two Stories
We never spoke in particulars, my mother and I, not once.
She would ask what I had done in school, I would say schoolwork. I would ask what was for dinner, she would say food. She would ask where I was going, I would say out. I would ask why she was crying, she would say because she can.
So, when she called to tell me that she was sick, I never asked what was wrong, I never asked how sick. I realised soon after that those questions would never have mattered, I should have been asking how long she had left.
I sit at her grave on Sundays, now, and I ask her all manner of things. I ask how the weather is, wherever she is. I ask if the other graves get many visitors. I ask if she forgives me. She answers in a new way; with a drop of rain, with a gust of wind, with silence.
I watch from my kitchen window as a cat fails in stalking a squirrel. Like with all good drama, my feelings are conflicted; I am happy for the squirrel, but sad for the cat. I open a tin of salmon that I was never going to eat and go outside to feed the cat, but it bolts from me as the squirrel did from it. I eat the salmon straight from the tin and put some peanuts on the garden table. I know, as all do, that squirrels like nuts but I am unsure whether they like peanuts; I hope they do – they are honey roasted. I don't wait around to find out, though, because it is Sunday and things must be done.
It is not quite midnight when I decide I should sleep but I first want to find out the squirrel's opinion on honey roasteds. I shine the light from my phone through the kitchen window but it does not carry far enough, so I go outside. It is cold because it is January and I can feel all of this in my ankles and in my bare feet. I shine the light on the garden table and find no nuts, but a squirrel corpse. Squirrels look strange when up close, they are, at the same time, exactly how you imagine a squirrel to look and nothing at all like that – so scrawny and twisted, and long. I get a bin liner to wrap what is left of the squirrel in and leave it on the table until tomorrow when I can bury it, to give it the dignity it deserves. My tears meander the path to sleep.
The next morning, I find the bin bag squirrel on the floor, still in its bag, but a bag now torn. I transfer the squirrel to an old Glenfiddich tin with some honey roasted peanuts and invite its kin to join us as I bury it beside the anemones, but none show.
It is Monday and I stand in the kitchen, washing cutlery as the kettle boils, staring out of the window in to the garden; there is the faintest ghost of snow in the air and there is the cat, sitting at the far end of the garden, leering from behind the hydrangeas.
About the Author: Sean Cunningham, twenty-three, is from Liverpool, and has recently completed a BA in English Literature. His writing consists of very short poetry and prose, and has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Breadcrumbs Mag, formercactus, Bending Genres, and elsewhere.