The Nottingham Review published this piece of flash fiction recently:
The Giraffe Hunters
Reaching up, I grab her hand and follow her indoors between the assorted mix of people, walking, wheeling chairs and lying flat on slow moving beds. These people aren’t like us. She says it’s because they’re special.
I think they’re secret superheroes and begin to wish myself like one of them as she pulls me along the corridor for our visit in the special room, the one with the long name I can’t read but looks like ‘Giraffe’.
Opening the hinged door, the giraffes go into hiding behind the chairs of the special granny people and knowing I can’t go off and hunt, I sit beside my mother and the man she always speaks to during our visit. As I begin to tell him about my new tree house, two women approach me, calling me by different names, arguing over whose child I am and then a man rushes over, telling the women I’m his John’s.
I laugh at them, knowing it’s all a game. I don’t have a father. My father’s invisible.
When the funny adults leave, they begin looking behind chairs and under pillows and I want to join them, knowing they’re on the hunt for the giraffes. Instead, I go on telling the man beside me about my plans for my treehouse but he interrupts, asking when grandma will visit, saying no one visits him and he’s all alone.
It’s bad to lie and I tell him so, pointing out both me and mother visit all the time.
Interjecting, mother explains his memory is bad but I know better, he’s one of them and talking code.
Sitting silently, I study him and realise he’s younger than the rest of the adults in the room, more like mother than grandmother. Watching him, his head and eyes scan the room. I look too. No giraffes.
Saying goodbye, I wish the man good luck on his quest and as we leave the room, mother asks why. I tell her, ‘It’s a secret’.