Flash Fiction. Removal, by Dylan Pritchard. Image: the silhouette of a sofa on which a woman sits and a man lies with his head in her lap. The man's silhouette is white as though he has been removed from the image.

Removal

Reading time:

The room seems to have more shadows with it bare. Empty shelves. There had been vases and books and objects, articles of life. Modern art in oak frames; how cultured they were, their easy touch of class.

He runs his hand on the wood: feeling fragments, smelling dust. Remembers a wonky selfie shot on their first holiday in Greece. Their tastes outgrew the plastic frame, but they’d kept it anyway to honour the love peaking in those smiles.

The door creaks; light changes in the space.

‘Is it all out – the stuff?’ Chris says.

Nile opens an in-built cupboard and buries his head in it

‘Feels weird,’ Chris says, making himself big. ‘All our nights here, as a four. But it’s not just you; it’s happening to everyone.’

‘You and Sara never argue. Ever?’ 

‘Maybe I’ve been telling myself that.’ 

Nile thinks of the hours spent on the missing navy sofa, eating, making love. Where would it go next? Hopefully the tip.

Chris knows he must get this man out of this house and into the van, then, the pub. Make him laugh. That’s his only option, his only solution.

‘To be fair. Getting rid at a good time,’ Chris says, slapping Nile’s shoulder. ‘Kate would’ve had you re-paint the whole thing within a month. Looks bloody awful.’

Nile smiles weakly. Her name.

Chris sees the potential. Doesn’t everyone think it impossible before it’s all over? Hasn’t this happened a hundred thousand times across the world that day?

Nile is staring, faded paint showing where the outline of the sofa had been. Chris clasps him at the shoulders, forces Nile to soften, then pulls him in, their chests moving in time for a second.

Beeping sounds, wheels score the road, a removal van drives past. Another man stands and sticks out his hand, begins organising bags, shifting the parts of his life stacked at his side. Birds chirp, a child shrieks. The first brown leaf falls from a tree.

Dylan Federico Pritchard

Dylan Federico Pritchard is a fiction writer who grew up in Rome but now lives in South East London.

 

He is currently working on a novella and a collection of short stories. His work has been long listed for the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize 23/24.

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