FFftPP : A moment only

Motel

https://pixabay.com/en/motel-hotel-sleep-pennsylvania-316295/

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‘I’m not staying here.’ Helen’s arms are crossed, chin tucked close to her chest.

Phil hates this, the three-year-old inside a body ten times that. It’s sickening – self-indulgent in light of everything.

He looks through the grubby windscreen to the motel. The paint’s peeling from the sign, falling away like scabs from a healing wound. There’s a group of figures smoking by the main door. Their skin and hair shines orange in the lamplight, their clothes are torn and greasy with dirt, boots scuffed. He can smell their tobacco through the open car window – it’s the cheap smuggled kind, the only type left since imports were halted.

Phil sighs. ‘Look, the place has a roof and four walls. Better than most we’ve seen since we left London.’

And these people are at least alive, he thought. There was one point in their journey, just outside the ruined Stratford, when he wondered – was there anyone not dead or running?

One of the men laughs, showing one gold crown radiant amid white molars. It’s a moment only. But it’s warm and human and Phil yearns for more.

He opens the car door and slams it behind him.

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Written for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practioner. See the pic and be inspired by the line – this week ‘I’m not staying here, honey’ – though I omitted the ‘honey’! See here for full Ts and don’t forget the Cs.