, , , , , , , ,

by David Borrowdale

On a Saturday afternoon dark enough for fireworks, me and Gaz were tucked in the armpit of The Castle, glasses of fizzing amber at our fingertips.

Gaz’d heard a rumour: a new barmaid, ample below the neck but not much above. Ferdy, king of The Castle, was so happy with his flower and the cheer she brought, he didn’t care she was slow on what side of eighteen a lad fell.

The tattle was true; our drinks were poured with only a glance at our peachy cheeks and tip-toe height.

But then a woman like my mother wearing my sister’s clothes stopped at our table, raspberry-tipped fingers tick-tocking on the chair back. “Not seen you little princes before,” she said.

“We usually go to The Eagle,” Gaz said, all casual. She gave a mascara wink, spun on eyetooth-heels, and returned to her coven by the fag machine.

Rumbled but dogged, Gaz bought more drinks. Ferdy clocked him from his top-heavy stool, but he was too busy grunting and slamming dominoes with a pair of old boys slugging dark beer from hand-grenade glasses.

Then a game of how’s the wife, how’s the job. We bellyached about imagined spouses spending our hard-earned, foremen who’d forgotten their roots, the cowardly unions, and Thatcher. It was an easy charade; that costume had been tailored through generations.

Addled our heads were by night’s end. When the lights dipped and volume ramped, we were first on the floor moving to songs we’d heard our parents sing. We were thrilled to be there, in that man and woman place, but dismayed there were no boys and girls there to see us.

David Borrowdale trained in genetics before he realised he preferred manipulating words to DNA. Now he is part of the editorial team of a major scientific publisher. When not grappling with the minutiae of biology textbooks, he writes flash fiction and short stories, and runs Reflex Fiction (http://www.reflexfiction.com), a quarterly international flash fiction competition. His writing has been published in Litro Online, Five Hundred Words of Magic: A Flash Anthology, and the charity anthology Flashdogs Vol II: Solstice.