#206 Halcyon Day

by Jennifer Harvey

She makes a dive and for once it isn’t perfect.

Resurfacing through ripples of water, she splutters and looks around as if to ask, “How’d that happen?”

I shrug as she eases herself up onto the riverbank and she sticks her tongue out before composing herself, arms outstretched, head lowered.

She dives again. No splash.

We spend the day this way. I lie in the grass, drowsy in the heat, listening as she breaks the surface of the water, over and over.

Tomorrow she’ll leave. But she knows not to say she’s been swimming in the river.

We understand now how these things work. The things that are better left unsaid.

Perhaps if I had understood this earlier, things would be different. Who knows?

For now I’ll take this calm. We both will.

Yesterday’s question still hangs in the air.

“Can I stay a few more days?”

And I reply without thinking.

“Of course!”

And we’d both paused. Remembering things don’t work this way anymore.

“We can always ask her?” she says.

The reply had buzzed back immediately. Jittering angrily across the table.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, do you?”

I have yet to reply.

No point in spoiling our fun just yet.

She takes a run up and whoops before hitting the water. Dive bomb.


Shirley Golden said...

The implicit relationships between the characters here works well. I think I might have finished at, "I have yet to reply."

Jen Harvey said...

Thanks Shirley. Now that I read it through again, I agree withyou. Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate it.

Rachael Dunlop said...

Very nicely done. The relationship is all there in the subtext. I can picture the scene very clearly and I particularly like the image of the phone angrily juddering across the table as it vibrates. The intrusion of reality into the idyll.

Jen Harvey said...

Hi Rachael.

Thanks so much for the nice comments. I find flash fiction really difficult to write. The compression of so much into such a short tale. Very taxing. It's been a good exercise this. Glad I spotted this competition on your Twitter feed. Thanks again!

Teresa Stenson said...

Really interesting interplay, things said, not said... It works very well.

It felt like the story came to a natural end at 'For now I'll take this calm. We both will', though the flashback to the day before adds another level.

Though you find it taxing, from this I think you do the flash fiction thing with ease.

Jen Harvey said...

Thanks Teresa. It is hard to know where to stop with these pieces when you are used to having a free hand to write without a word limit. Makes this a good exercise for me as I can be rather verbose ;-)

Practice is what it comes down to I suppose.

Thanks for the encouraging words.

Flutterby said...

I'm not sure I agree about truncating the ending. Because to me it's like the first part is setting up the story for a girl who is trying to be perfect in her dive and, obviously, she has a mother who is controlling.

But then the last part where she does the "dive bomb" it's like she is cutting loose and enjoying just the swim and being a kid. (Although I might have said "cannonball" instead of "dive bomb" because everyone knows what an obnoxious splash that makes!)

Anyway, to me it's a nice contrast as an act of defiance after the mother basically says she can't stay longer.