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Sunrise on Birdcage Walk,
and Other Flash Fiction Stories.
Stuart Page
Distributed by Smashwords





Copyright 2018 Stuart Page





Thank you for downloading this ebook. Sunrise on Birdage Walk remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be re-distributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoy this ebook, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favourite authorised retailer. Thank you for your support.





Some of the following material contains themes of sex, violence, and death.





Sunrise on Birdcage Walk



Table of Contents



Gaze

Sure-footed

Beneath the Plant Pots

Forward Momentum

When You Finish

Just Like Magic

Board Game Night

Neko, Neko

Survivalist

Don't Wanna Be a Waiter

Drag

Tour De Yorkshire

Keeping in Rhythm

Hiroki

The Caller

Just Friends

Flesh Eaters

Impasse

You Only Hold Me When You're Cold

Ten Hours and Counting

Love

Sunrise on Birdcage Court

Oh, God

At Night

Change

About the Author





Gaze

“What do I look like, today?”

“Hmm…”

“Am I a dragon again? Tell me I’m a dragon again.”

“No. You’re a rabbit.”

“What?” Rabbit says. “That's lame.”

“How about me?”

Rabbit hums, thoughtfully, looking its friend over. “You look like a Greek goddess.”

Greek goddess gasps. “Wow!”

“Yeah, I’m jealous,” Rabbit says. They float about, shifting over time. One of them suddenly groans. “Oh. Now you’re just a swordfish.”

“And you’re a snail,” Swordfish says.

Snail sighs. Far below, two humans lie on their backs, laughing and enjoying cloud gazing together.





Sure-footed

A rainy day. I steel myself and go for a run, passing goats in a nearby allotment and following a dirt trail that takes me towards quiet woodland. Twenty minutes in, I trip over a rock and fall down. My cheeks burn. I pull myself up hurriedly and set off again. Suddenly, the surrounding quiet is pierced by the stiff sound of wood hitting plastic. I glimpse two boys playing field hockey up ahead, atop ground that is stricken uneven by roots and bumps. There’s always someone better than you. I run on, giving the boys a wide berth.





Beneath the Plant Pots

After lifting a fourth plant pot and finding nothing, I call my sister for help. “Can’t find your house keys.”

“They’re under the plant pot,” she says.

“Which one?”

Pause. “There’s only one. It’s big and red.”

I glance around. There are no red plant pots here. “I, uh, think I’m in the wrong garden.”

“You’re dead right,” someone growls. I turn and see an icy eyed, elderly woman. She guns at me with a mop and I go down, hard, head smacking the floor. She laughs victoriously. I wonder if she’ll bury me here beneath the plant pots.





Forward Momentum

Cathy is washing her dishes in hot, lemon scented water, idly staring ahead at the tiled kitchen wall, when she is suddenly overcome by the urge to be active. She drops a half-washed dish back into the sink and marches into her living room, eyes moving to and fro, taking in the space all around her. Then, stopping before a stretch of open carpet, she dives into a forward roll. It carries her much further than she expects. “Ahh!” Cathy yells as she crashes into a radiator. She deflates, stretching out on her back against the floor.

“Stupid, stupid…”





When You Finish

I think about my friend while I masturbate. I imagine that he’s sitting over me, naked, with the tip of his warm penis pressed against my lips. “Go for it,” he says. Slowly, I take him in my mouth. “Yeah.” He begins to hump at me and I begin to tug frantically at myself, and before very long, I'm ready to spill over. Panicked, I replace the image of my friend with that of a faceless, naked woman, moments before I unload. Wanking over guys isn’t gay, just as long as you don’t think of them when you finish.





Just Like Magic

Britain exits the EU and the grass grows greener. Businesses are staffed by trustworthy neighbours and the nation’s borders rise up like walls of impassable steel. Our children are safe and suddenly, if anything, their classrooms are a little emptier than we’d like. We can understand what our doctors are saying, now, but we still can’t understand their handwriting. We take back British migrants who’ve retired to Spain, absorbing their Britishness into our own, but not their tans. Our economy becomes number one because we stop comparing. We take back our wasted money, revive the Empire, colonize the EU.





Board Game Night

Board game night. Five sit around a table with a stack of games on. First up: Cooperation in the desert. “We won, no thanks to you.”

“You what?”

Next comes Team Tower. “You’re gonna topple it, you’re gonna-“

It falls. “You distracted me!”

After this, Moving in Circles Forever: Extended Edition. “Money, money, money,” the winner is singing. Someone flips the board and little pieces fly everywhere. The house dog eats a tiny metal car, gets a stomach ache.

“Never again,” one person says.

“See you again next week,” the others say.





Neko, Neko

Takahiro show up late to class. He has a hurried conversation in Japanese with his friend, Yuki, before joining us in the vocabulary building game that we’re playing.

I raise a purple flashcard. “What’s this?”

“Afghanistan,” everyone says.

“Nice. Roll the dice.” They move counters around a crappy board game that I made earlier.

Meanwhile, I notice, Yuki is stroking Takahiro from head to bottom. He’s whispering, “Neko,” cat in Japanese, as he goes. “Neko, neko.”

Takahiro purrs.

It's been over a year since anybody's touched me like that. I jealously scold them and they stop.





Survivalist

Adam squeezes an orange torch with his hands. It whirrs, like a tiny, quiet chainsaw. “What’s this for, Daddy?” he asks.

It’s for when the power goes out, Daddy says.

“And it doesn’t need batteries?”

It doesn’t.

“Why did you buy a toolkit? You’re not a builder.”

I might build something.

“Like a treehouse?”

Probably not.

“You’ve got lots of tinned food. I don’t want that stuff. Are you going to eat it?”

Some of it.

“Can I hammer too? I’m a really good builder.”

Sorry, no.

“I can’t see outside anymore, Daddy. Why are we blocking the windows?”





Don't Wanna Be A Waiter

2 am. Can’t sleep. “Walk it off,” my partner says tiredly, rolling over. I get up. I could play a video-game but that’d be a waste of time. I could write but I don’t have the energy. I could call someone, but who would be awake?

“Huh?” As I pass my living room window I see someone, a man, pacing in the car park two storeys below. He looks up at me. It’s my old boss. He has come to hire me again, I’m sure of it. I open the window. “Go away!” I shout.

“Come back!” he replies.





Drag

I bought a new pen. It looks like all of my other pens, thick and black, but it’s different because the ink apparently comes faster and won’t drag. I find a notepad, one with yellow, lined pages and put pen to paper. I could write about the sky again, or the taste of cold coffee, perhaps, or a current crush, but what haven’t I already said about those things? The pen may not drag, but I do.

I want to buy a new version of myself, open the packaging - ‘he’s faster, doesn’t drag!’ - and get to work.





Tour De Yorkshire

Jenny ties yellow flags to a railing. “Well?”

“A little to the left,” her sister, Maggie, says.

“You’re right.” Jenny unties, adjusts. Maggie wants everything to look perfect for the cyclists who are coming during the Tour De Yorkshire, but Jenny thinks she's missing the point. The countryside is already so beautiful, so vibrant. Would athletes honestly care to see cheap flags, when there is the natural prettiness of the garden beneath, or the hills beside?

“A little to the right.”

“Yes.” Regardless, if it’s important to Maggie, Jenny supposes, then it’s important to her, too. She unties, adjusts.





Keeping in Rhythm

One more lap. I can do this. There’s music in my ears, a beat that keeps me in rhythm. One, two, three, four. Submerge, stroke, glide, surface; submerge, stroke, glide, surface. I feel the slosh of water all around me, the bob of other swimmers at my sides. My lungs want more, my arms want less, and my legs will do anything without my concern because they’re eternally loyal, bad hip notwithstanding. One, two, three, four. Almost there. I can hear the music getting faster. I hit the wall. Success. I turn. One more lap. I can do this.





Hiroki

Hiroki is showering. He feels and looks great today after his workout. “I’d date me,” he thinks, happily. He turns off the shower and, avoiding the eyes of the naked men around him, goes for his towel. He stops dead, however, when he sees the towel rack. He's forgotten to bring his own. “Uh oh.” He swallows. Praying that nobody’s watching him, Hiroki grabs the nearest towel and hastily dries himself. He returns it. It falls to the floor.

“Is that mine?”

“I don’t speak English!” Hiroki shouts, fleeing. Next week, he tries out a new gym.



The Caller

Steph awakens to a knocking. It’s 2:30am, according to her watch. “Who…?” She reluctantly leaves the warmth of her bed, deciding that it must be an emergency, and approaches the front door with an outstretched hand. Upon touching the handle, however, she stops dead. Recent headlines sprawl out across her mind. “The Caller kills again,” “Door to door death,” “Don’t answer to The Caller!” Steph's eyes grow suddenly wide and alert. Could it be? “Hello?” she whispers. No answer. She takes ahold of her wrist, steadies the trembling there. “Hello...?” She can't pull herself away.

She turns the handle.





Just Friends

I flirt with you all night while we watch movies as just friends, and when we eat together, just as friends, I can’t help but notice how your tongue licks the end of each pizza slice before you stick it in your mouth. Later, when we go to bed as just friends, I know that you’re aroused. I feel it when I idly wave my hand near your crotch and, accidently, just as friends, catch the tip of your lengthy erection. You shudder. Despite this, I don’t reveal my own dangerous arousal. We’re friends, you and I. Just friends.





Flesh Eaters

Two men are huddled together in a dim restaurant. One is balding. The other is wearing a red bandana. “They’re gonna be inside any moment now,” the balding man says, whimpering.

“Calm down,” Mr Bandana says.

“What’s going on?” the restaurant manager asks, suddenly appearing beside them.

“There’s a h-h-horde outside.”

“A horde?” The manager sneaks towards the restaurant door and peers through the glass panes. She screams. There really is a horde – of hungry customers - milling about out there, waiting to get at the food within.

“Braaaised beef,” they groan in unison upon seeing her. “Braaaised beef!”





Impasse

Thump.

Thump.

“Lillia. Quit it.”

Thump.

“Lillia.” I turn towards her. She lowers her racket and catches her tennis ball when it returns from the living room wall. “You're too noisy. I'm getting a headache.”

She huffs. “Well, you won't take me to the tennis cour-”

“That doesn't mean-”

“And you won't lemme practice outsi-”

“We live in a bad neighbourhoo-”

“So we're at an impasse,” Lillia finishes, one hand on her hip. Where did she learn the word impasse?

Ugh. I get up. I need some painkillers. “Fine. Fine. Courts. Let's go.”





You Only Hold Me When You're Cold

He is getting ready for bed when he prepares the hot water bottle and tucks it in with him, between his freezing sheet and icy quilt. Maybe tonight, the hot water bottle thinks, he will love me. And though he embraces it and thanks it for defrosting his bedding, it is on the floor by morning, excommunicated, banished, forgotten. “Why doesn’t he love me,” it cries, “what did I do wrong?” It grows warm again the following evening, only to be cast out by sunrise once more, lost in the cold, its hot affection valuable only in the dark.





Ten Hours and Counting

“What’s the time?” I ask, squinting at the T.V ahead of me. My eyes are starting to hurt.

“Ten past eight,” my boyfriend says.

“Huh.”

He yawns, stretching his legs out across the couch and over my lap. “We’ve been playing this game for ten hours.”

“No kidding.” I shoot someone in the face in the game. “That’s quite an accomplishment, really, considering how neither of us likes it.”

“I know. I can’t believe we skipped getting haircuts for this,” he says as he activates a new quest. “We should definitely quit.”

“Yeah,” I agree, reloading my gun. “Definitely.”





Love

I am on intimate terms with you, shower, but I do not love you.

I see you on the train on weekdays, old lady with the ugly purple hat, but I do not love you.

I drink you every day, coffee, but white or black I don’t love you.

I am rather taken by your suggested hallucinations, books, but I don’t love you.

I talk to you a lot, phone, but I just don’t love you.

I can’t tell you that I love you, sometimes, Dad. Do I not?

I love you, but also I do not love you.





Sunrise on Birdcage Walk

Grass moves beneath me. Humans make loud noises from the other side of the wall. It rains, my wool dampens. My child talks amongst other children. Our leader comes in her big white machine. My legs hurt too much to go to her. A bird rests on me. The sky darkens. I sleep.

My child wakes me from the other side of the wall. I follow their voice through a gap beside the gate and up the road. Lights approach us. My child is silenced. I return home. The sun rises over a red body on the road outside.





Oh, God

“No. How about you?” Cathy asks from behind her glass of wine. “Do you believe in God?”

“Used to,” I say. “I went to a Catholic girls' school, so it was hard not to believe. I had church every week and sang hymns every morning like a good Christian.”

“Oh?”

I sip my own wine. “Yeah. Though, nowadays, I don’t even know how to spell the word hymns, let alone remember any of them.”

“I remember loads.” She begins to sing with no concern for the others in the restaurant. I locate a menu, shrink behind it. Oh, God.





At Night

I wake in the night and find that we are fondling each other. This has been happening with almost alarming regularity, recently. Am I touching my hair, or yours? Am I stroking your penis, or mine? And what am I kissing? I can hear you breathing, make out your outline. Consciousness is coming at me quickly as my eyes adjust to the dark and as you climb atop me with energy that I don’t have. “Hey there.”

“Love you,” you say.

“So tired,” I say, though I know what I’m kissing and who I’m touching now. “Love you too.”





Change

For a change, I put the milk in before the tea. I show up for work ten minutes late. I loiter when I’m busy, rush when I’m not. I write a best seller, keep in good contact with my friends and only shower once a week. For a change, I pee with the door open. I spend thirty hours not playing my new video game. I hope for cloudy weather. I swim in my clothes. I fantasize about women. I worry too little. I wear dirty laundry, wash clean garments and tell you, “I love me,” for a change.





The End

Thank you for reading Sunrise on Birdcage Walk! If you enjoyed it, please go ahead and leave me a review at your favourite retailer.

Thanks!

Stuart Page





About the author:
Stuart Page is an English graduate who lives in the U.K. countryside with his partner. Stuart has been a waiter, an English teacher, and a supermarket checkout boy. Through all of that, he has continued to write fiction of many genres. He spends his spare time playing the guitar and swearing at video-games.





Connect:
Keep up to date with Stuart on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pookykun
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