Nomophobia

Was that a tremor of a curtain in a darkened window? No matter. A pivot, a leap, and I’m over the garden fence. A shimmy and a jump take me on top of the shed. I listen for the sound of pursuers, for the creak of a back door opening as someone checks that all is well. There is nothing but the warm night air pressing in on my eardrums.

My objective is still above me, but for a moment I look not up, but out. I feel like Dick Van Dyke taking in Victorian London, but instead of soot-stained chimneys and greasy roof tiles I have row upon row of bristling satellite dishes and TV aerials, their angles cocked at the skies to hear the better.

How has it come to this?

I wipe my hands on my trousers and take a firm grip of the satellite dish. One, two, three heaves brings it away from the wall. Brick dust sprinkles over the driveway below me, followed by the clatter of the dish as it cartwheels into the road. It stops in front of a police car. Torchlight swivels from the patrol car window, fumbling over the rooftops before finding me. They know who they’re looking for – the same man they’ve caught tearing satellite equipment from houses every night this week. No matter. My work here is done.

In a few hours that family will wake. They’ll reach for their mobiles, their television remotes. They’ll ask for Alexa. They’ll tap away at their laptops. Eventually they will conclude that they have no choice but to converse, at least in the short term. Perhaps teenagers will scuttle down from their bedrooms. Maybe parents will concern themselves with what their children have planned for the upcoming day instead of what some politician did in London yesterday. If I’m lucky, they’ll remember what it is to construct sentences, to be curious about each other.

Of course, they will need something to be curious about. Fear not nomophobics, for I have provided once again. What could be more conversation-provoking, after all, than a night prowler loose on the rooftops. My crimes will provide a spark, a fire to set those tongues wagging.

Chim Chim Cheroo.

 


Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, and Shooter magazine. He is an absentee member of the Glasgow Writers Group, a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.

Not necessarily in that order

https://twitter.com/mjrichardso0

 

Tendrilling

How can you still love him, after what he did to your mother? Their eyes say it even if their lips don’t frame it.

How could I not love him? He was my dad. You’re supposed to love your dad, aren’t you?

Besides, he never hurt me. Neither of my parents did. Every care was taken with my upbringing. I was fed well, walked to school every day, bought things that my parents couldn’t really afford, given all of the things that they never had. Even their own vices were kept from me. Mum wouldn’t touch a drop until I was in bed, and dad would never light up in the same room as me – never. During the day he’d go outside when he needed a fag. He’d stand with the back door open, letting the cold air into the kitchen. More often than not I’d go and sit out on the stoop with him. Continue reading “Tendrilling”

They

They are well-intentioned. For the most part. They walk into the park in their little groups, merry with lager and rum-and-coke, laden with sleeping bags and thermos flasks and rolled up ground mats. They’ll huddle together with their fellow do-gooders, music and torch shenanigans keeping them amused. They won’t sleep a wink, of course, but that’s not really the point, is it? They’ll have a tale to tell, a shared experience, something to post on their Facebook timeline. They’ll raise some money of course, let’s give them their due. Not that any of it will reach me, huddled on my bench on the less salubrious side of the park.

Continue reading “They”

Alone Amongst the Beasts

It was big enough for a grizzly but not the right shape. Too wide for a deer and not well enough defined to be a cougar. There was no frosting on the mud – whatever had made the tracks was close. Travis blew into his hands and shouldered his shotgun. Only a pale grey glow was left lingering above the treeline, the remnant of a sun long-set. He began to trudge up the forest trail again, breath clouding over his shoulder in the cold air. Continue reading “Alone Amongst the Beasts”