abroad, British, festival, flash fiction, holiday, island, Jonathan Cardew, people, short stories
by Jonathan Cardew
It was festival night. The British people didn’t really know the meaning of festival; they had on their usual drab football t-shirts and button-down Ralph Laurens. Their understanding of festival was in the number of watered-down lagers they could drink, and the number of locals they could insult. In the town square, they pissed in fountains and up against millennia-old walls, but still they drank and demanded service.
The next morning, they requested their disgusting fried breakfast again. They sat or slumped in plastic chairs all around the town square, carefully cutting into their greasy bangers.
The locals hovered by.
One British man wanted his bacon burnt. Another couldn’t understand why the locals didn’t have normal white bread.
The locals offered no excuses.
You don’t speak very good English, said one of the British women. Do you even understand what we’re saying to you?
She was squinting.
The heat was obviously affecting her.
Post-festival, the temperatures soared into triple digits, and they drank and baked in the midday sun. Football games were played on TV sets wheeled out of bars. The British people melted into chairs. They could barely lift their beers to their mouths. One of the British suffered badly from heatstroke and lurched across the town square to throw up into the fountain. He held his hair back to avoid getting any in it. The puke floated and spread in the clear water, leaving an oily film on top.
A local cleaned this up.
On the eve of their departure, musicians were brought in and a stage was erected in the town square. Money was to be made. Craftsmen from all over the island descended with their wares: their headdresses and fertility potions, their knock-off watches and DVDs. The British people drank and parted with their cash like it was hot, and they danced to the music badly and pissed up against the walls in a more jovial manner. You could see a bit of emotion in them. A few tears. A downcast look. By midnight, most had filtered back to their hotel rooms.
In the morning, the British people had gone. Their hotel rooms were devastated — stained carpets, broken lamps. Apart from a few iPhone chargers and condom packets, no trace of the British people remained.
The locals sat outside their bars and cafes, looking at the harbor. It was a dreamy kind of morning. Windless. Not a British person in sight. Not another burnt pink belly spilling from jeans. Not another Steve or Sheila to grapple from the fountain water.
Just the sea gently undulating.
Jonathan Cardew’s writing appears or is forthcoming in Passages North, Superstition Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, JMWW, and others. He was a finalist in Best Small Fictions 2016 and the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2017. He is the fiction editor for Connotation Press.