Mark is the Alpha Dog behind the #FlashDogs and the winner of Vol 3 – 30, Vol 3 – 34 and Vol 3 – 45. Follow him at his blog and on Twitter. Read his #SixtySeconds interviews (so short! so good!) here and here.
He has cooked for royalty, played football for the England manager, sung to the Pope, and been held at gunpoint. All this was a long time ago, and now he enjoys worlds and characters far more bizarre, outlandish and alien – for these are the joys of Flash Fiction. He’s proud to be one of the founders of the #FlashDogs movement. He’s been published in Maudlin House & the FlashDogs Anthology, and had pending entries in Poised Pen Halloween Anthology, Untitled Charity Zombie Anthology and Luminous Creatures Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness. He also judges at The Red Line magazine and served at Flash! Friday as a Dragon Captain. He lives in Norfolk, UK, hiding from the psychotic calls of geese.
Vol 3 – 45: The Framework Bird and the Ringing Singing Tree
She is but a jumble of blunt shapes encased in scrawny skin.
She is a framework bird.
In her stomach, the emptiness of self-loathing. In her mouth, the tang of acid reflux, the sour aftertaste of self-induced sickness.
She walks away from the whisperers. The airbrushed magazines. The imperfect reflections that stalk her.
She hops in the swaying heathland. Treads the foothills of stubble fields. Flitters beneath skies of wonder and fear.
She sits beneath the Ringing Singing Tree. Warped trunk and jutting boughs, its canopy holding up the sky. Its metallic tubes howl in the crosswinds, and ping in the pitter-patter rains.
In the winds and rain, she is accepted.
Beneath the Ringing Singing Tree is where the framework bird heals her wings.
Vol 3 – 34: The Boxer and the Butterfly
The boxer imagines the soft, dry powder of talc soothing roughened knuckles of pain. White dusted on criss-crossed burgundy fissures—a snow-capped mountain of scars.
The butterfly is trapped in a body that doesn’t belong. Society dictates the mundane caterpillar appearance—dragging the butterfly down.
The boxer imagines the weight of the gloves, the torsion of biceps, the dancing of feet on springy canvas. The boxer imagines the bloodthirsty collective din of the audience as glove connects with face.
The butterfly is beaten, derided and punished for being something it should not be.
The boxer is ready. In the locker room she kisses the picture of her children, ignores the banners telling her place is at home and she enters the arena.
The butterfly is ready. He covers his injuries in majestic kaleidoscope-colours and walks the streets of Russia with tentative, watchful steps.
Vol 3 – 30: The Dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy
She lived her life in the folds of oppression.
He lived his life in the smothering love of his parents.
She once twirled in the sunlight. Once smiled. Her dreams were crayon-colours. Roughly sketched blueprints of respect, dignity, self-worth and a mythical thing called love.
He only left the house when they went with him. Mind that step, son. Have you taken your tablets? Button your coat. Don’t forget the emergency procedures.
She pursued her dreams and saw that glimmer of love in broken men; men that she would come to realise were beyond redemption.
He watched his parents die from the genetic disease that coursed through his veins and was left ill prepared to face the world alone.
She folded into the roles and shapes demanded of her. She was the beautiful dove, the delicate orchid, the fearsome dragon. Between roles, she could not turn back to herself—such a person did not exist.
He hid in the musty shadows of his house. Breathed the mould-spore mists. He didn’t clean the dust, for the dust was them. It was all he had left.
They dreamed. They dreamed of impossible justice.
In their dreams, they danced in the mirror-ball light of the moon. They touched with tenderness. Kissed with compassion. Their origami-porcelain children would be strong and independent, and feel loved.
Perhaps she would leave these men?
Perhaps he would leave this house?
And perhaps justice would be found in the dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy.