Helen Rye on National Flash-Fiction Day



Flat Pack

He lays the pieces out on the rug in Euclidian point order.  She spreads the instructions flat among toast crumbs. Stray curls of butter slick the paper down.
He fixes A to B to C to D, fourteen-and-three-quarter Allen key revolutions each one – not too tight, not too loose. She locates locking pin E in cylinder nut F, by hand, to assemble the corner pieces, times four.
He readjusts the corner pieces, times four, by two-and-one-eighth millimetres. Attaches plate G with a spigot wrench.
She sets the thing upright. It pivots sideways with arboreal grace.

They regard bracket H.

He searches for it in the diagram. She turns the bracket upside down, holds it up and gazes through it at the thing, which has come to rest on the rug in a broadly rhomboid shape.
He takes it and applies the principles of Newtonian mechanics with a claw hammer.
She quotes Nietzsche, obliquely, and mostly to herself.
He constructs rivets from bits of old jewellery and sundry other items it would be ridiculous to keep, arc-welds the top splint to the side-brace using the bracket as a splice grip.
She turns the thing to the light. It is crippled, and limps like a spavined horse. She says, ‘It would be kinder to kill it.’

He consults quantum mechanics, adjusting the thing’s relative relativity with harmonics, saws the molecular weight of an angel dancing on a point of semantics off the end of each leg, abrading the angles with a pipe laser. Forces it to stand, though anyone, anyone could see it would be better to let it fall.
She pours a six-stanza poem into the dust. Gets up by herself and steps to the edge of them, and he tries to catch her, though anyone, anyone could see it would be better to let her go.



Helen Rye lives in Norwich, UK. She has won the Bath Flash Fiction Award, the Reflex Fiction contest and third place in the 2018 Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have been nominated for Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She is a submissions editor for SmokeLong Quarterly and a prose editor for Lighthouse Literary Journal, and she helps out from time to time at Ellipsis Zine and TSS Publishing.  Website www.helenrye.com twitter: @helenrye



Note: Earlier versions of this flash were shortlisted for the Bridport Flash prize and  longlisted for last year’s Mslexia Flash Competition.

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