Happy Birthday

I wasn’t ready.
How could I be?
Yet you came into my life
and changed it irrecoverably.

I held you first.
Are you for me?
This warm, fragile parcel
totally dependent on me.

When your eyes could focus,
What could you see?
I saw the one person
that changed all life’s goals for me.

You learned to speak.
What did you say to me?
Hearing you say “I love you dad”
Filled the very heart of me.

You went off to school.
What could you be?
The whole world is your oyster,
you’ll be a better man than me.

Another year older.
How can that be?
But you’re still my baby boy,
and you mean the world to me.

Flash Fiction : Picture This

You’re stuck in a traffic jam on a motorway.
You’d been driving back, alone, from your family’s Christmas reunion. It’s a day before New Years Eve. It’s late in the afternoon, so the sun is just setting, and around you cars have their headlights already lit.
As you look to your left and right, you see people in their own metal bubble of warmth and familiar scent.

Your minds eye lifts up and above you, and you see yourself trapped in an unending stream of metal, like a tin of anchovies stuck on a broken down conveyor belt. As far as your minds eye can see there is nothing but boxes of humanity, from every possible walk of life all brought together in this shared experience of inactivity and frustration.

Looking out through the windscreen of your car, all you can see stretching away is red tail lights, and the mismatch of letters and numbers that make up the multitude of registration plates. You idly try and make words out of the number plates you can see, wondering what your scrabble score would be for “LA55 BAT”.

You feel alone, sat with only the softly playing radio for company, but you’re not lonely. The fact that the traffic has ground to such a final halt has given you a little bit of time to relax, away from the stress of battling the inconsiderate, dangerous, incompetent, and sometimes just naive other drivers.

With your eyes closed, and your head resting back against the headrest, you can feel the engine of your car gently throbbing beneath and around you, and are very conscious of your own heartbeat and slow, relaxed breathing.
You become extremely aware of yourself physically – the feel of your trousers against the skin of your hands, the weight of your jacket enclosing your arms and shoulders.

The flash, when it comes, is like a million paparazzi camera bulbs all going off at once. You instinctively squeeze your eyes shut until the blinding light fades from outside your eyelids. As you carefully open your eyes and gaze out of the windscreen, on the horizon you see a mushroom cloud. It’s like the mushroom clouds you’ve seen from the 1940’s black & white films, epic in it’s size, dark oranges and yellows funneling up into a thick, black fist of smoke and dust. You become aware of a deep, throbbing vibration coming up through the floor of the car, and as you sit you are shaken in place, like the last match in an empty match box.

As your vision begins to blur with the vibration of your skull, you see cars up ahead being flung up and away violently, as though they were toy cars being kicked across the playroom of an angry toddler. The last sensation you feel is that of immense heat, as the windscreen in front of you gives way, showering you in broken diamonds of safety glass. Your last thoughts are of how this shouldn’t be happening to you, the protagonist, the hero of your own narrative.
As your broken body is melted into the interior of your now madly hurtling car, your last shred of consciousness disappears like a dream upon waking.

Friday Flash Fiction : Generosity

The train station was as busy as ever on this cool November morning. Commuters rushing to make their habitual seat on their train to work, others arriving into town ready to attack the day anew and survive another day at the grindstone of employment.
Mixed in with these station regulars were the people travelling for other reasons – some good, some bad. The woman on her way to meet her lover, the guilt etched in her face as she thought of her husband driving home from the station with a smile on his face, not knowing the truth of his situation.
The young man and woman off to the airport for their first holiday together as a couple, he only thinking of the sex he can’t wait to have, her thinking of only of how close they will be after spending a whole two weeks together.
The older man, dignified and almost military in his bearing, travelling to the funeral of a friend, finally taken by the weak heart that had plagued him for years.

Into this cauldron of humanity walks a smiling man, with a large tray suspended round his neck in the manner of ice-cream sellers in the cinema. Contained in the tray, displayed in rows like jewelry on velvet cushions, were an assortment of pastries. Pain au chocolat, croissants, danish pastries, cinnamon swirls, all glistening with sweetness.
As this man walked toward the center of the concourse, the intoxicating smell dancing among the people around him, eyes began to follow his progress as interest was piqued. He stopped, and in a voice tinged with mirth loudly announced,
“Ladies and gentleman. Greetings to you all on this fine morning. As a token of kindness and to help you on your journey today, I have here some fine pastries. Please, avail yourself of them, free of charge of course! I only ask that later today when you think back to this moment, you maybe think about how a small gesture of generosity and kindness can bring a smile to even the gloomiest of mornings”.

Several people began to congregate around him, looking into his tray to select a pastry for themselves. Once the first person took one (an account manager for a plumbing supplies firm, on his way to meet a potential new client), other people took it as a signal to pickup their own selection. They were pastries that are dreamed of. Warm to the touch, plump, the filled ones heavy with sweet chocolate or syrup, the croissants light and buttery. As each person bit into their own pastry they could not help but smile, and offer small noises of satisfaction and enjoyment.

After twenty minutes or so, the tray was empty. Those people lucky enough to get a pastry were left feeling a tiny bit happier than they had been before this smiling man had arrived.

The man himself stood with a satisfied grin. He had come to the station this morning in the hope of brightening peoples day. As these people set off on their commute, or their walk from the station to their offices, they would begin to feel more than happy, more than satisfied after eating these gorgeous treats. You see, within each pastry he had put a small dose of LSD. With no taste other than the rich, dark chocolate or the sweet sugary cinnamon, it had been consumed completely unawares and now, for the rest of the day, some of these people would experience a rather more interesting time than they first thought they would when they got up this morning. “Yes” he though to himself, “it’s good to give”.