Timeline: FlashBack’s Sixth Season

Timeline: FlashBack’s Sixth Season

We’d like to celebrate our final season of our second year with this tremendous collection of flash and prose poetry.  We’ll be back in January with new work and our next submission window which stretches from 15 January to 15 July.

In the meantime, thanks to all of our readers and authors, and to everyone who has submitted work, sent us kind words, and celebrated historical flash with us on social media.  It’s a pleasure to serve such a wonderful community.

And now, here’s an overview of everything we’ve published in our most recent season….

Season VI

It’s dark. Darker than coal. Darker than Ma’s eyes when I came home caked in mud after football on the common. Which is before. When we weren’t down here. Crouched in our sidings. Waiting.

I grip the sides of the swaying rowing boat, my face scorched by a cold-hearted sun. Ahead is Ascension Island, Queen Victoria’s lonely outpost, lying between Africa and the New World, a desolate rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As Assistant Surgeon, it fell to me to order Captain Butt to evacuate the sickest men to the shore.

Though sometimes, lately, insistent in her touch, my somebody-other comes to still me in her folds, tap-tapping with her game of lines and dots. And sometimes, tapping back, I feel her urgent pleasure more than mine.

Edward’s large head looms like fat, round cheese whilst he watches her; ready to whisk away her ideas as soon as they are born.

  • early 1900s: Down the Long, Long Line by Mary-Jane Holmes
    • There are the sidings where you lay wishing the wheels would roll away your shame, there’s the train station where you marched the rails with the other girls: Lytton. Pankhurst, Kenney, Dunlop with axe, stones and a message. Deeds not Words.

The great man is in the drawing room sitting for a portrait. We’ve had to roll up the rugs, but there’s sure to be paint for me to scrub off the parquet. He’s had that many pictures done, there can’t be anyone in England who wouldn’t recognise him on a dark night.

As she nears her destination, she stops and scans the street. All clear. She chaps the door, tapping out the code, her heartbeat hopscotching in her chest.

I wake early in thick darkness to a wind crashing over the rooftops, a wind howling like our neighbour’s dog after he was run over by a cart last year. I hear the fire of the maroons and my husband sits up in bed and says he must go and all I say is to take care as fear swells in me like the storm itself.

When I dream it is raining. That is normal, that is what it does in Poland. Rain falling in sheets like wire mesh stretched to the four horizons. Keeping me in, shutting me out – it is all the same thing.

“Next time I looked, he…”

My voice catches, like someone releasing the R/T button too quickly. My lower lip quivers. What’s wrong with me? I’ve lost sprogs before.

Jackie and me on the bus. Front seat, top deck. Number 38. Hackney Central to Victoria. Memory of this bus came with me to Hospital. German Doodlebugs screaming through clouds. Stop. Wait. Boom! Doctors said I’d be better off out of it. Ma was crying the day they left me at St Caths. Told me it was a palace in a park. Turned out more of a prison. Only a boy I was, but a man when I left.

The Berlin Wall is down and my pension is in real marks. The notes feel good between finger and thumb, substantial. My shovel feels good too, balanced horizontally in my left hand, cold wood and colder steel.

Photograph of the sun rising following the winter solstice at Stonehenge on 22 December 2018, taken by U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Madeline Herzog.