Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Part 7) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021” Week #41.
Today I’m featuring contribution Part 7) By Kirsten Nairn
Last week I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
Here is the image prompt and Kirsten’s contribution.
It wasn’t just the cold morning air which made Findlay shiver as he struggled out of the car at 5am.
‘Lydia, you have to be joking. There is NO WAY I’m going up in that.’
As if on cue, a ferocious whoosh split the morning stillness as the burner filled the hot air balloon, followed by ‘oohs and aggghhs’ of the passengers.
‘It’s my wedding present to you! And, it’s top of my bucket list. It’s going to be so amazing Finn. We’ll see the sun rise.’ Her hazel eyes shone bright with excitement.
‘A toaster would have done! Lydia, I’m scared of heights.’ Beads of sweat trickled down his back.
‘Since now. I know this whole bucket list thing is important to you, but it’s your list, not mine. Can’t you take someone else?’
‘No. It’s on my list to do it with you. Come on Finn, you only get one shot at life….’ She stopped mid-sentence.
Ashamed of the resentment he felt, he took a deep breath. Lydia had become obsessed with this recently, and whilst it wasn’t his thing, it was important to her, more than ever now, but he felt like he was on a one-way train, hurtling with alarming speed towards its final destination, stopping only briefly to tick off another item on list.
A woman clutching a clipboard bounded over towards them.
‘You must be Findlay and Lydia? I’m Grace, and I’ll be accompanying you this morning. You guys are just going to love this,’ she beamed.
‘What happens if canvas goes on fire?’ Findlay blurted out.
‘Then we drop like a stone, but that’s never happened on my watch. Come on, let’s get you both on and we’ll go through the safety procedures, including what happens if the basket breaks free.’
Findlay tried to catch Lydia’s eye, but she was deliberately avoiding him, her focus on Grace. He followed slowly behind, like a dead man walking, delaying the inevitable. There were worse ways to die, he supposed, the irony of which wasn’t lost on him.
Lydia noticed his hands shaking as he held the safety card. She squeezed them re-assuringly, and before he could change his mind, they were off, floating upwards, through the dark skies. His knuckles turned white as he clutched the side of the basket and he kept his eyes firmly shut, but Lydia gave him a running commentary anyway.
At precisely 6.03am she whispered, ‘Findlay. Open your eyes,’ just in time for him to see the sun rise. It was undeniably beautiful but would have looked as good from the ground below.
Lydia put her head on his shoulder and pointed her phone towards them for the inevitable selfie, which he knew would be added to her making memories folder. He gave his best smile. He owed her this much.
These four weeks of married life were the happiest he’d ever known, but now it was time to make the call he’d dreaded.
‘Can you meet me at the hospice. I think it’s time.’
He heard a sob at the other end of the line. ‘Why the hospice? What’s going on?’
‘I’m sorry Lydia but it’s where I want to be. I also want to make happy memories and want you to be my wife, not my carer. No arguing. Okay?’
Exhausted, the last of the mourners gone, Lydia sank down into the sofa, Finn’s indent still visible on his side. Her stomach lurched and a hot, fat tear rolled down her cheek as she opened the card. It was a picture of a hot air balloon on the front. That was so Finn.
My Beautiful Lydia, you said ‘we only get one shot at life’, but you’re wrong. We only get one life, but we get lots of shots, so please, please, take another shot. I know you will always love me, but please love someone else as well.
I never had a bucket list Lyds. I never needed one, because you were it. Now pour yourself a glass of wine and look at the memories we made.
Love you always,
She picked up the photographs inside.
Their first kiss, aged 4. She was kissing him; he was screwing up his face.
On the swings at the park, aged 7.
Awkward teenagers. Lydia dancing with friends. Findlay looking on, mesmerised.
A selfie taken the morning after their first night together.
A selfie taken in the hot air balloon.
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