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The Lookers

Comments (0) Flash Fiction

The dead man and his wife stand on a thin spit of shingle, as knotted, boat-shaped bodies of women shrink and swell like irides in tide pools and puddles. No mermaids here, only squinting witches paddling upturned eggshells in the blurry distance. His eyes are not what they used to be, mud crabs angrily scrambling from empty sockets.


Through nets and plastic bags, the codling swim with cyclops lice and blooms of opal jellyfish. Ever more watchful of the nuclear reactor – for no-one wants a fish in the system despite what anyone tells you. All that energy powering the eyes of the dead man’s wife, hundred-watt blinks casting lumens seaward for the purpose of drowning desperate vessels. She dreams of running out among the frenzied gulls and rusty pipes, of extinguishing blazing filaments, shattering bulb casings with fistfuls of hag-stones.

But all the pregnant pebbles have been pocketed by tourists, strung up in their bathrooms like rosaries – creative types on day-trips from London, keen to rework ramshackle hut and overturned boat in charcoal and watercolour. Eager for the gluey-battered fish slivers dished up by churlish girls with chapped lips and thick pink thighs. Under weary feet the ooliths and fossils clink like dead men’s teeth, the music of breakages.