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I bought good trainers – expensive trainers. I made trainers my full-time project. I researched trainers on-line for days. I Googled trainers, I compared trainers, I price-checked trainers. I read about arch supports, sweat holes, road trainers, gym trainers, fashion trainers.
I grabbed a Pot-Noodle, went back to the computer and tapped in “On-line Sports Shops”.

I narrowed down the possibilities and looked at the calendar: I’d kept myself busy for four days.
I clicked “Checkout”, I paid extra for next day delivery and then I went to the pub and lost all my cash in the fruit machines and buying everyone else drinks.

Then the next day I ran. I ran and I ran and I ran.
Melly from the pub, stood outside having a fag and laughing at me. ‘Run, Forest. Run!’ she shouted, cackling with smoker’s laughter until she coughed.

I ran out of town.
‘You haven’t dealt with me,’ said a voice.
I ran faster. I ran high and I ran low. I ran fast down the hills so the wind roared in my ears, but the voice carried on the wind and still found its way into my ear. ‘You haven’t dealt with me.’

I ran home. I was red, I was sweaty, I was hurting. I didn’t care. I put the TV on in the kitchen and the iPod on in the sitting room. I watched sad bastards while I ate crisps and made a cheese and pickle sandwich and I listened to angry bastards while I went back online and researched headphones.

I went out and I got drunk.

I woke up in the sitting room, put on my trainers and I ran.
I ran into town and I bought headphones.
“Ever fallen in love with someone, ever fallen in love,” shouted the music into my ears as I ran and tried to cross the road.
‘You haven’t dealt with me,’ shouted the woman in the white Renault. I blinked in the sun. It wasn’t white, it was yellow and driven by a man.

I ran home past the pub, past Melly having a fag. She turned her back on me and Carys from the kitchen shouted “Bastard!”
I ran home. I was red, I was sweaty, I was hurting. I didn’t care. I put the TV on in the kitchen and the iPod on in the sitting room. I watched sad bastards while I ate crisps and made a cheese and pickle sandwich and I listened to angry bastards while I tried to remember what I did last night.
‘You haven’t dealt with me,’ said a voice from the TV.
I looked up at the photo of a mother and baby on top of the TV. The mother stared out at me, crying. ‘You haven’t…’
I grabbed the photo and squeezed the frame so hard it cracked in my hand.
‘No. It’s too much. Stop it.’

I went to the pub and people were uncomfortable around me. I sat in a corner and got drunk.
I woke up on my doorstep at 4am.
A hand touched my shoulder in the half-light and encouraged me gently to my feet. ‘Go to bed. Sleep. Rest. Take your time.’ I looked around and no one was there.

I lay on my bed and saw a face in the dark. ‘No. Go away.’
Pain in my throat. Pain in my eyes. Breath building in my chest. A noise escaped from my mouth as I tried to fight. ‘Ah. Oh. Ow,’ I cried. It hurt inside and out. I didn’t want it to hurt. I just wanted to stay drunk forever.

The sun was high in the sky when I woke and looked at the clock. It was lunchtime. I was starving. I walked slowly to the kitchen, turned on the TV and listened to the news for the first time in weeks. I froze and stared at the screen when I heard the date. I’d been in bed for two days.
Outside. Some roses the landlord had planted were budding. Soft pink. I took the kitchen scissors, went outside and cut the pretty little things down. I dropped them in the kitchen sink and then I took a long, long shower in silence but for the constant, steady sound of water.
I found clean clothes in the tumble dryer. I picked up the roses, cutting my hands on the thorns. I hurt. I cared. ‘Dammit,’ I sighed as tears came too easily to my eyes.
I walked to the pub with the roses in a plastic shopping bag. I walked in, left one on the bar and walked out. Someone saw me, someone followed me. I don’t know who it was.

I went to the cemetery. I found the grave. I stood and read the epitaph.
‘Hullo, Mum.’ I said.
I stood still.
I remembered her good points and I remembered how she thumped me when I puked in the back of her white Renault. I gave her the roses. I screwed up the plastic bag and put it in my jeans and I sat on a bench. I felt my face get wetter and saltier as I thought about loneliness.

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. alisonwells #

    Oh really fab, Rachel. You see sometimes I read Friday flash and I’m a little bit nervous that it’s just not going to cut it. It’s so wonderful to read a story that you have faith in from start to finish, a complete story that brings you along, that you enjoy for the phrasing, for the incremental and clever unfurling, for the feeling, for the recognition it engenders in you. Top notch in such such a few words! Everything that flash should be!


  2. Chuck Allen #

    I love this story. It connects with the reader in so many ways and unfolds with perfect timing. Thanks for sharing it through Friday Flash!


  3. Ruth #

    Now THAT is a powerful piece of writing!


  4. Very, very good.


  5. I loved this – so many questions to answer, so many gutsy images, really good work, Rach.


  6. Powerful, poignant, well-paced, and stylistically brilliant.


  7. Fantastic! Not really much else i can say about it.


  8. What a lot of lovely, enthusiastic comments. Thanks all! 🙂


  9. Well done. We run, run, run, trying to escape the things we haven’t dealt with. But we just can’t run fast enough, can we?


    • Thanks.
      I smiled just now when I thought about the slight language difference – e.g. use of the words ‘fag’ and ‘trainer’ in the U.S.


  10. Weird. I would’ve sworn I commented on this when I read it last night. This is a really good showing of the futility of trying to outrun your past in a most literal fashion. Mommy issues are the worst. 😦

    Well done 🙂


  11. Blackbirdsong #

    At first I wondered about this person’s running obsession and then BAM…oh yeah, this is what we do, we try to find something to focus on, to run away to in order not to face the tough stuff. Wonderfully written and conceived.


  12. Deanna Schrayer #

    Oh Rachel, this is stunning! I actually got choked up, (very rare). You need to write more like this for sure.


  13. This is amazing and powerful for several reasons: first, your initial focus on the trainers suggested so many possibilities at the beginning and I was hooked. Second, the running and energy flowed through the whole passage. And third, the ending, so sad but so real. Well done!


  14. Yes, i agree with everyone, this is a wonderful fridayflash. It has such great pacing and rhythm. The way it builds and grows. I actually found myself reading it out loud and very fast, like a steam train gathering speed, and then the breaks went on at the end. Fantastic stuff.


  15. I love all your comments. It’s so very helpful to know what works! Thank you.

    And Justin (AKA flying scribbler) it’s great to see a photo of you 🙂


  16. This gripped me from beginning to end. An absolutely fantastic piece of writing, Rachel. Well done you!



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  1. Our FridayFlash “Fav 5:” January 7 « Franky Benítez

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