The Shine Journal

Exceptional Flash, Poetry, Art and Photography!



After the Thaw


Nick Allen


The first frost of the year has covered bare branches and made the grass crisp underfoot.  As far as I can see, all is white, apart from the gravestones that seemingly go on forever.

Julie is standing opposite me, on the other side of the gaping hole, comforted by family, and the vicar is talking, but I’m not hearing his words as my mind is elsewhere.  I’m looking at Julie.

She works in the next office down and I think she is beautiful.  Not just pretty, I mean she is, she has eyes that on some days are nearly green, strawberry blonde hair that is cut very short and away from her face, pale skin with pink cheeks and even pinker lips.  No she is pretty, very pretty, and doesn’t seem to know it, but that’s not what I mean.  Because she has gentleness too, a warmth and kindness that I’ve never known in anyone before, a way of being that enchants me.  When she smiles I melt a little.

I never knew her husband, I’m not here for him, I’m here because she is my friend and I want to be there for her.

We speak on the phone a lot, checking orders and contracts and sometimes she’ll send me a silly email.  At lunch time we’ll often sit at the same table together and I’ll tease her about the tiny office she has, or the colourful jumpers she sometimes wears.  She’ll laugh or pull a funny face at me.

She never really spoke much about her husband, but I got the impression they were happy together.  And I’m happily single, serially monogamous with more than my fair share of notches on the bedpost, so romance never threatened our friendship.

But I think I love her.

I look at her crying now, a few feet away, yet I can’t go over and hold her like I want to, can’t tell her she still has people who care.  For the moment she is all alone and no one can really help, although I’m sure many will try.  No, what she needs now is a little time and a little space and she will be fine.

I do love her.  It breaks my heart that I can’t tell her today, tell her I’ll try and make things better, be there for her.  But it is too soon.

It is going to be a long hard winter; it always is in these parts.

Perhaps after the thaw...


BIO: Nick is a mental health nurse from Manchester, England. He has been writing flash fiction for two years.

MOTIVATION: Remembering an opportunity I let slip through my fingers.

Photo  by Paul Preacher

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