Been a While Since Bad Things Only Happened To Other People by S.A. Greene
We’re play-singing the opener to ‘The Muppet Show’ and Saskia’s lips are pouting the words at me in an exaggerated way that’s making me prickle to kiss her, so I look away, glance towards the door. Outside, civilians are moving quickly, zig-zagging round each other, blurry in the rain, shiny under the searchlights. James, X and Pickering are sitting with their backs to the entrance, but they must smell it -- the fear that suddenly cracks off me -- because they all stop singing at the same time: right between ‘It’s like a kind of’ and ‘torture’.
The waiters freeze. The other tables fall silent too. I hope for a second that a different group is being targeted, but when they head towards us I’m not that surprised. The Leader is a monkfish-faced male, with round sloping shoulders that undermine his epaulettes. They stop at James’ chair. No words are spoken. James rises. Follows them outside.
Hey! Can I get any of you guys more refreshments? The waiter has sprung back to life before James’ narrow back is lost to us. X and I mutter no thanks, but Saskia gamely orders another Cuba Libre. Pickering is silent.
Soon, Saskia and X are impersonating Miss Piggy, and I don’t understand. Why aren’t they wondering who ratted on James? Was it one of them? Both of them together? No. Too risky. What about Pickering, then? He seems shaken. The lights dim, as if to spare us the sight of one another.
With James taken, they’re less likely to return for another of us. I’m ashamed of the relief this thought brings me. Then I begin to worry: what if it was me who reported him?
Saskia presses her pillowy lips together, out towards me. (Not that James was perfect.) She’s rolling lip-gloss over them, over and back, making them look plump and shiny. (Bit of a dark horse, James.) Saskia’s lip-gloss is peach-flavoured. The smell of peaches curls across the table, climbs inside my head, unfurls, expands, fills the whole world.
S.A.Greene writes micro and flash and the odd (very odd) poem, in Derbyshire, UK. Words in or forthcoming in Flash Flood '21; Sledgehammer Lit; Janus Lit; Ellipsis Zine. Retreat West micro comp People's Vote winner, May '21.