This flash fiction was longlisted for TSS summer flash fiction 2018 award. Longlist and shortlist here.
Elsa and the heron
He sighed, one of the lens caps was missing. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been here. He banged his fist on the grass as if trying to shake out the memory. His legs were stiff from sitting. He raised the binoculars. Two mallards cruised by, their necks purple in the sun. By the time they’d passed, they were green again. The heron stood, stately – it was always there. He poured tea from the flask. The red plastic cup reminded him of Elsa. He smiled and wondered where his house key was. He checked his trouser pockets. His trousers were stained. He lifted the binoculars again, just in time to see the heron catching a fish. The fish struggled and twisted silver as it was gulped down. Turnstones arrived, as if on cue. They landed, blending into the beach and rocks. He loved this line of coast. A woman had given him watercolours last time and he’d obediently painted white yachts and blue water. He’d made the gulls red. The heron plunged again. He wondered where his house key was and sipped the warm, plastic tea. The woman who’d given him the crayons said you could have a picnic on your own, there didn’t have to be other people, it was still a picnic. She’d asked why the gulls were red and chided him gently about the stains on his sweater. The woman knew Elsa and even looked like her. She’d been at her funeral. He thought of Elsa now and looked at the heron. He wondered if the heron would find his house key, which was not lost, after all, but glinting under the water. The heron was standing stately, still again.