Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Hollow Point - Friday Flash
At the end of the tour they hit the gift shop. Her sightseeing hands explored blindly as she fingered the hanging trinkets and pendulous bagatelles. She rattled the wares as if divining for her elect through rhythm and resonance. And then she came upon the carousel of choice. Key-rings with die-stamped Christian names. “Five more minutes” her mother advised. She plumped straight to the tier with names beginning with the letter that initialled her own. She foraged through the rack but without locating her own cognomen. Nothing even close. Curse her parents for their impossible fancy for the foreign and the unfamiliar, yielding the exotic denomination they had conferred upon her. The locus for their dreams and hopes. She knew it was not long after her birth, that a prescriptive list of permissible names for babies had been drawn up and instituted into law. The registry offices would refuse to notarise any identification not on that list. Forlornly she started through other prefixing letters, in case her name had been misfiled. But when her mother yanked her hand to pull her towards home, she barely resisted for she knew her name had not been mislaid in the array. She was destined forever to be misplaced and unrecognised through the singular irregularity of her title.
A brown manilla envelope plopped through the letterbox and landed on the floor with a shrill reverberation. Since her grandmother had confined herself to her bed through unending grief, she stooped to pick it up. Something in the envelope shifted and clinked inside. She brought the package into her grandmother’s darkened room. As she proffered it in the direction of her grandmother, a hand shot out of the bedclothes and waved the envelope away. She retreated back to the doorway. She examined the typed label with the family name and correct address. She worked the sealed flap open and was met with the sight of a folded piece of paper hard up against the rear of the envelope. She removed it and opened it up to reveal a heading marked ‘INVOICE’. It was addressed or chargeable to her Granny saying ‘Expenses incurred (see enclosed contents) x3, = 34,000 Pesos’. ‘Cost of burials at expense of the State x3, = 200,000 Pesos.’
She canted the envelope to spill its contents into the palm of her hand. Three bullets shook out. She gingerly picked on up between the pads of her fingers, as if somehow it could still discharge itself even without the accelerated access to barreling. It had something etched into its body. It was the name of her mother. Aghast she quickly referenced the second bullet, which bore the legend of her father’s name. She dropped it in her anguish, as if it really had discharged itself. She plucked out the third bullet still ensconced in the corner of the envelope. It had a name which bore some of the letters in that of her own, but not all of them. Nameless, rootless and stateless, her parents’ glamorous dreams of abroad had become her living nightmare here at home.
Taken form the Flash Fiction collection "Extra-Curricular" out now on in print or Kindle and I-Tunes