Flash Fiction 2nd Place: Everything Said by Jamie D Stacey
The drunken howls and shaking carriage of the train is deafening. You’re turned to reading the faces and bodies of this herd of others that pass in and out of a haze of noise. It’s a Friday night, and everyone is drunk/ tired/ a little broken.
The shape of a man in a suit/ a tie/ a heart cutting open, squeezes through the rumbling of guts and bellies and beer cans. Buries himself in the blotches and patches of silence. Others chew the hollowness of it. Mash it. Tear it. Then spit it out. This mob of Welsh dragon rugby jerseys and lipstick women, this flesh of a Friday night all around you, don’t notice him/ clink cans/ belch the alphabet of joy.
The man sinking into his seat is fighting tears, lips quivering, and it’s apparent he’s trying to think of something else/ be a man/ say nothing.
He puts his phone down. The noise of it, nothing. Then his face cries like crushed aluminium, with tears of Carling leaking out.
The artificial lights buzz. The man drowns in a bubble of loud light. The chorus of drunken shouting and laughing means everything else is swallowed up, and the man in the bubble becomes suspended in a silence where no-one can hear him. He doesn’t disappear though. This vacuum of him left behind. Soon others take notice/ pity/ offence to this upset in their joy and drunkenness and forgetfulness.
Some rugby jersey approaches him. He offers a Carling. He leans in, maybe mumbles, she ain’t worth it/ I lost someone too/ it’s gonna be alright mate. Some lipstick smacks at the air. She offers an ultimatum. She shouts/ calls/ beckons. The jersey disappears. And the man falls further into his bubble/ tears/ forget tomorrow there is no tomorrow with this cancer.
You wonder if you should say/ mention/ ask something. You wonder if you should cry with him, tell him everything. Then the lights lisp, this attempt to talk as the train carries on, and Friday night wakes up to Saturday morning. The man looks up, across the table, notices you.
You smile/ nod/ and when he’s ready, listen.