Shortlisted flash story Isolation theme: Cut Common

Shortlisted flash story Isolation theme: Cut Common
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In the stillness of life stopping, sunlight shifts on her music, thoughts flying every inch of everywhere. She thinks she is comfortable with impermanence, but in this quiet little eye-of-the-storm, alone, she faces that she is in love with two people and has the discomfort of indecision. She imagines supermarket security guards, clear plastic visors, nervous feet straddling a stripy line, and two sides at once makes sense.

Because of covid, she gets to stay home and play Bach; two simultaneous musical lines, one for each love, complementary, different, either side of her, unaware of each other. In the applause along silent streets the claps seem tiny, faded, like blousy moths flapping against windows, too busy, like the rest of the world, to notice what’s really happening. And they are not for her, those claps. They celebrate real-life and death-workers, not split, or doubled, heartbeats.

Love exists in the time of the virus, the one that makes the separating world take stock, and means she will never see a door-handle the same way again. Will she choose the delicious stolen time of a siesta or the early-morning splat, face-down, unfacing, belonging. She wakes early, now she doesn’t have to and hears courting birds as they layer-up their chatter.

Which love does she want in lockdown – the middling, steady dissonance? The long-desired unison? Which would she leave the house for? Which thing? Novelty? Skin on skin. She’d be out like a shot and want all/both/either of those arms around her. Lockdown feeds want as imagination soars outward, carried by lines of Bach, dipping, rising, never settling. Come to me. One of you. Both of you. Is there a cure for wanting more than you can have? Life: too short to waste on mediocrity, half-loves.

She centres on the exquisiteness of flowers – magnolia, camellia, tulips, apple-blossom – as they track the weeks of coronavirus in blooms and demises until the clematis bursts forth, each as big as her outstretched hand, ready to play. Her loves stay true, undiminished in either direction, suspended since lockdown began – one trapped at a father’s sickbed down south, the other writing poetry out west.

How did we get here, to the doorstep refrain of these weeks? ‘On your/our/her doorstep’; flour, eggs, biscuits, Beethoven. I will help you, provide for you, be on the doorstep a minute or two, but I can’t decide the future for you.

Rachel Weld

About Rachel Weld

Rachel Weld is a professional musician living and working in Manchester UK, although she is Australian by birth. She mainly writes fiction and has a First Class Honours degree in literature and creative writing. Her short CNF pieces about being a musician in lockdown have recently appeared on a BBC website and are featured in an upcoming episode of 'Words and Music' on Radio 3. She has been shortlisted for the 2020 Litro Flash Fiction Prize. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Rachel Weld is a professional musician living and working in Manchester UK, although she is Australian by birth. She mainly writes fiction and has a First Class Honours degree in literature and creative writing. Her short CNF pieces about being a musician in lockdown have recently appeared on a BBC website and are featured in an upcoming episode of 'Words and Music' on Radio 3. She has been shortlisted for the 2020 Litro Flash Fiction Prize. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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