Clodagh O’Brien
February 2016 Third Prize


by Clodagh O’Brien

Billy knows when it’s time to get up. He doesn’t need a clock or a watch or a radio. Billy just knows.

Billy takes Weetabix from the shelf and drops two biscuits in cold milk. He stands in front of the microwave and pretends the light inside is lightning.

Billy yells goodbye to his mother and cycles to school. He has tied strings to the spokes, so when he goes fast it’s as if he has tails.

Billy sits in the front row in class. It means he can see everything on the board without squinting and gets to taste chalk dust.

Billy eats lunch at the end of the playground. He shares his sandwich with a squirrel that lives in the triangle of a tree.

Billy cycles home the long way so he can ride over all the bumps. He stays in the middle of the road even if a car beeps.

Billy measures out spaghetti and puts it in water with salt and oil. He stands above it until the bubbles come.

Billy goes upstairs to eat. He feeds his mother with a teaspoon and tries not to get Dolmio on the duvet.

Billy washes the dishes with bleach because there’s no washing up liquid. He leaves them to dry the way his mother taught him.

Billy does his homework on the coffee table with a wonky leg. He writes slowly so the pencil doesn’t jiggle and he has to start again.

Billy sits cross-legged in front of the television and looks at himself. His nose is getting bigger and his hair longer.

Billy puts on his pyjamas and makes sure his mother takes her pills. He kneels in bed and makes a steeple of his hands. Billy tells God he hates him and goes to sleep.

About the Author

Clodagh O'BrienClodagh O’Brien writes flash fiction, short stories and the occasional poem. Based in Dublin, she has been published in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Litro, Literary Orphans, Thrice Fiction, Visual Verse amongst others. Her flash fiction was highly commended at the Dromineer Literary Festival and shortlisted for the Allingham Arts Festival. She loves writing in bed, and realises there are too many books to read before she dies. You can find her blog at: and tweets @wordcurio.

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