Mairead Robinson October 2023 Second Prize

Butterfly Effect

by Mairead Robinson

That night you flipped out, drunk on vodka you found in your brother’s room as you rummaged for weed, you didn’t know that your best friend, too numb, wouldn’t speak for three days, and as you flipped, alone and raging, you didn’t know your teachers, on hearing the news, would rolodex their heads for anything they might have ever said, and you didn’t know as you emptied the bathroom cabinet for something to be enough, that your neighbour would stare at the fence, recalling a six-year-old on the trampoline, pigtails lifting into twin smiles as you bounced up down, up down, and you didn’t know as you smashed your own face in the mirrored doors, the bath filling dreadfully behind you, that your mother would say you were everything, just everything to her, and as you stepped half-dressed into tepid water, you didn’t know that the boy you slept with after a party, the one who bragged to his friends, would never again hold anyone close, and your mother’s boyfriend, who said you were all grown up, before he slunk from your candy-striped sheets, your pop-star posters, would hold your mother up at the funeral, eyes hard-glazed, like a daughter to me, he’ll say, lies the only truth on his face, and you didn’t know, as you gripped a glass shard without thinking, felt such calm sluicing through, that your brother would find you and be too afraid to know what to do; he’ll turn off the tap, towel-mop the tiles; soft white soaking up pink, and you didn’t know, when you flipped into that grey blur, that you’d be buried in the pale lilac chiffon you wore to your prom, cocooned in a casket painted by your cousin with poppies and vines and big yellow swallowtails fluttering through leaves.

About the Author

Mairead Robinson writes and teaches in the South West, UK. Her work has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Crow and Cross Keys, The Molotov Cocktail (Flash Monster 2023), Free Flash Fiction, Full House Literary, Voidspace, and in various anthologies too. She is supposed to be working on a novel, but has become hopelessly addicted to Flash Fiction. She tweets @Judasspoon and skeets

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