They call her The Eighth, The Pure, The Hope, The Youngest. Anything, but her name.
Papa says people can recognise him even under the shade of his black bowler hat. He points a bony finger up to the rim, then readjusts the long box under his arm.
When I was six, I had a sister. She liked to call herself Red because she despised pink. She said pink tasted like cat piss. I didn’t know how cat piss tasted, so I believed her.
The smell of other people's history. Not her history.
The bloated ball stops at the bottom. We clamper out. Bruised.
1 sip Hot blend of black and a spot of white. A stroke to the tongue, a hump to the throat, a pause to time. Perfect. A crack zigzags ceiling-to-floor. An insulting cut to the book-page-white wall.
I can go the highest on this swing, the one behind the silver birch, out of sight.
You would love this, I know. The buzz of the lorries vibrates the thin window above the sofa bed. Noise to me, lullaby to you.
It’s never dark anymore. The sky moans in rust. The air scratches. And I’m still awake in bed when Mom opens the door of my room, ‘We’re leaving.’
"There’s a dark-light-dark-light-dark-light flashing to your left...." Originally published on Reflex Fiction, where it's just missed the longlist in the Spring 2021 Reflex flash fiction competition.