I leave my flat, turn right, and meet a confused-looking fellow ambling up the small incline from the station. He asks me where St Leonard’s Church is and I tell him, but then we’re both waiting to cross the road together to go in the same direction so it’s all very awkward. I ask him where he’s from. “Algeria,” he replies. I know nothing about that country and so I say, “Oh,” as the cars keep zooming past. He asks me if I have a husband. Normally I would say no, but this time I say “Yes, yes, I do.” And my voice is so convincing that even I’m convinced, and just like that, a husband appears in my head. The man then asks if I have children. “No,” I say. He asks me why and I say, “I don’t know.” And I really don’t. I ask him where he’s going and he smiles and says, “It’s a beautiful morning but I have no plan. You are going to work, yes? But I have no plan.” And he stares at me in a painful way that says, you are living the most conventional life in the world and I so wish I were you. I know that look and feel bad to be fooling him. He says goodbye and tells me I should have children. “There’s still time!” he yells as he rounds the corner.
Mary Thompson works as an Academic English tutor in London. She is a recent winner of two BIFFY 50 awards. (Best British & Irish Flash Fiction 2018-2019) and her story, ‘The Circle is Complete,’ which is featured in The Group of Seven Reimagined, has just been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been published in various places, including Ellipsis Zine, Retreat West, Ghost Parachute, Literary Orphans, New Flash Fiction Review, Pidgeonholes, Elephants Never and MoonPark Review.