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The Impossible Party
A Flash Fiction by Maria Thomas
You said you wanted a party in one of the golden post-boxes they painted after the London Olympics. You said ‘I’d like Andy Murray mum, but really any would do.’
So I looked into it and saw that yes you could hire them for parties and events, and was outraged, like properly outraged, to find there are two for Andy Murray – one in Dunblane (understandable), and one in Wimbledon (ok also understandable) – because he didn’t win two gold medals did he, he only won one, and then a silver with that young girl, Heather, or Laura or someone? And that’s impressive right – a gold and a silver – it’s really impressive. But it isn’t two gold medals, it isn’t two golden post-boxes.
Anyway, I booked the golden post-box in Church Road, Wimbledon and you invited a bunch of your old friends, and I crossed my fingers that they’d come, that they hadn’t already written you off, forgotten you. And you want your party to have themed colours – redwhiteblue – for the flag – and gold for the medal. So we dress you in the blue and white dress you like. It has spaghetti straps, and is quite low at the chest, so we can see your scar. That livid, ridged earthworm that bisects your body, cleaves it in two. You wear gold sandals on your useless feet, and the medical bracelet on your wrist is a bright pillar-box scarlet – because we don’t go anywhere without that do we? You know, just in case.
The post-box is deceptively large – like the Tardis – which is a cliché, but also true – and we – I – decorate it with union jacks and fake medals, and all the food is either yellow, or redwhiteblue – so we have blueberries and heritage beetroot, sliced thinly and pickled (thanks Masterchef), we have strawberries and pizza, we have vanilla ice-cream, and cherryade, and a salad of tiny blue and yellow potatoes.
Your friends come along and they dance, and dance, to eighties electronica, while you sit on the sidelines and watch with that tired smile on your face. I even manage to play a video message from Andy Murray wishing you a happy birthday. Because they do these things for children like you, don’t they, these celebrities? Do you think they like the proximity? Them in their superhuman prime, and you so pale and insubstantial that you’re almost already gone, almost already evaporated into atoms, slipping through my fingers like quicksilver. But later you tell me you don’t really care about Andy Murray, you only care about the golden post-box because you told your old friends you’d be having a party in one and they didn’t believe you, and Andy Murray was the first Olympian you could think of when they asked.
And later we laugh, you and I, because we’ve always believed in impossible things, and we’ve always lived in impossible ways, because how on earth could we have carried on otherwise.
Author: Maria Thomas is a middle-aged, apple-shaped mum, recently winning Oxford Flash competition and Best Speculative Fiction by the Welkin Prize. Maria has also won competitions with Free Flash Fiction and Retreat West. She was finalist in LISP 2022, second in Propelling Pencil. She is on Twitter @AppleWriter and Insta @AppleShapedWriter.
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