We’re Hearing Reports of an Incident in Amsterdam

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by Sharon Telfer

There’s a weight to the petal, a rippled ice-cream thickness. Leaning as close as he dare, the wire scoring his ankles, he can follow the pressure guiding the brush, the swipe of the knife, that streak of bristle. It feels easy: turn his finger, track its worn, whorled pad along those inviting furrows. His hand strays instead over his beard. It’s an illusion, he knows. Millions of dollars nest in those dabs and touches.

His eyes flick the label: … blossom symbolising new life. He steps back, for perspective. He can see the orchard now, the sinuous dance of branches, those delicate spatters of flowers. A dreamy couple, soft curve swelling the woman’s belly, murmur their way along the wall then pause heads together, obscuring his view. He closes his eyes and breathes, a lost honey scent, the remembered hum of bees, forgotten laughter. When he looks again, the couple have gone. A bell is ringing.

“Ladies and gentleman, the museum will be closing in ten minutes. Please start making your way to the exit.”

The attendant yawns and scratches his nose. A tour party in neon clatters across the next gallery.

Now is the time. A pulse beats in his temple.

Now.

He sways, as if about to fall, then he is pounding full force to the wall — and, yes, there are shouts and klaxons and flashing lights and an agony suspends him like a starburst in linseed and pigment and canvas threads but then the frame unfolds and he is through and the trees open their arms to receive him, scatter his head with confetti as he steps like a bride into the joyous peal of birdsong and the boundless spring.


Sharon Telfer lives near York, UK. Her stories have won the Bath Flash Fiction Award, the Reflex Fiction Prize, been shortlisted for the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize and nominated for Best Small Fictions. In 2018, she was awarded the New Writing North/Word Factory UK Apprenticeship for emerging short story writers. She is an editor at FlashBack Fiction, which showcases historical flash fiction. She tweets @sharontelfer.

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