[I’m very proud of this one, which came sixth in a recent microfiction competition hosted by Grindstone Literary Services. We were asked to write about a Snapshot in 250 words.]
I step on scarlet toes (“Sorry, love!”) and breathe in sugared scent. The girls are like butterflies, flitting under frangipani blooms.
“Madame?” He’s got a walkie-talkie. “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for my friend,” I shout, above the bass. Then I see him across the street. A tuk-tuk swerves, and misses me.
“All alone?” I ask. The beer is sharp, cutting through the evening heat.
“I’m in love,” Pete tells me, through a haze of smoke and flowers. “Not with you.”
“Just as well,” I say. “With who?”
He nods across the road. “With Nita.”
I look over – the girls are glowing neon – and back to him.
“Nita from the Good Time Garden??”
“I’m obsessed!” he says.
A boy clatters in the gutter with empty cans of paint.
“Does she know?” I ask him. Pete isn’t young.
He shakes his head. “But I’m going to give her this.”
He smooths a photograph with tar-stained fingers. She’s laughing, he’s drinking something lime.
“I’ve written to her,” he says, draining his glass. “On the back. Dutch courage!”
Then he grins, gets up, and weaves his way across.
The fan above is broken. Something scuttles by my feet.
After a while, I spot him coming back, and then I see her, I think, on the balcony, a sliver of red. She leans out and drops something. It flutters into flowers.
“I think she was surprised,” says Pete, sitting down. “We’ll see. Fancy another?”
I wonder. I wonder what to say.
© Joanna Rubery 2017
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