Shortlisted flash story (and WINNER) Isolation theme: Dust

Dust falls, captured by a heavy glass vase, distorting and covering its intricate flower petal design. It covers the windowsills, the floors, the ornaments, the nooks and crannies, a thin layer of dead skin attaches to static electronic surfaces, until it is removed only to return the day after. Time marches on but yet we stand still, sit still, lay still, scared stiff to move outside where pollen is whipped up and blown around in small cyclones. News bombardment 24/7, 7/11, 9 to five, the odds are 2-1, 5-1, 10-1, we’re flattening that curve, squashing the sombrero from that holiday you never took or had to cancel. Who’s zooming who? Sensitive information through the wires, down the cables, into ears of asymptomatic people. Nobody knows. A food parcel lacking ingredients arrives on the cleansed floor, of the cleansed tower block, several flights up. The deliverer, long gone, didn’t wait for the bell to finish its chime; he’s gone back to deliveries. A small-gloved finger pokes out from the door, through a gap barely large enough for a hand to fit through, and hooks the paper shopping bag handles. The pray is dragged in over the threshold and sprayed down. But something is missing, was missing, sold out, out of stock, only while stocks last, says the fine print of the receipt, they can only apologise. Scarf wrapped around the head, gloves to hide those dry, cracked clawfingers, and a baseball cap endorsed by Odidos; an imitation bandit ventures into tumbleweed Dodge with their heart in their mouth. Curfew ignored, follow the others through the maze of yellow one-way arrows fashioned from in-store tape. Mind the gap, keep your distance, observe the M6 chevrons, between one another in the cleansed store. Pollen and dust is not whipped up but someone sneezed two metres away. Tighten the scarf and breath held, yellow arrows observed and followed arbitrarily, ignoring special offers, avoiding the others, no milk today, no yeast today, no toilet paper today, no flour, no soap, while stocks last, while panic lasts, remember? Plastic shield guards the cashier, past the flimsy automatic gate, and out of the sliding doors, back into empty society where an exchange of glances with rare strangers are accusatory, a raised eyebrow and a scarf check. Return to the new settled dust that awaits tomorrow.

Simon Linter

About Simon Linter

Simon Linter lives in Stockholm, Sweden, but comes from Northampton, England. He has a MA in creative writing and has had three poems (Laundry, Typewriter and Hibakusha) shortlisted and published by Aesthetica. He has written several books and has had a short story and two interviews (Maggie Gee, Mark Haddon) published in Two Thirds North. He is most comfortable writing about personal and political events.

Simon Linter lives in Stockholm, Sweden, but comes from Northampton, England. He has a MA in creative writing and has had three poems (Laundry, Typewriter and Hibakusha) shortlisted and published by Aesthetica. He has written several books and has had a short story and two interviews (Maggie Gee, Mark Haddon) published in Two Thirds North. He is most comfortable writing about personal and political events.

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