“Transients” by Dave Alcock

As usual, he’d collected her from the station and they were driving through the countryside on their way to the coast.

“I’m leaving,” she said.

He glanced at her. “Okay. Let’s make the most of today.”

He looked through the windscreen at the white van ahead of them and saw the scroll of shadows that raced across the back of it: a telephone mast and a road sign, the grasping fingers of woodland silhouettes.

When they got there, they walked across the clifftops. They stopped on a headland and looked at the sea. It was blue and the horizon was misted. Rainbows came and went in the spray above the surf. “I wish I could stop the clock,” he said. “I wish I could keep this from slipping away.” A fulmar soared on an overhead up-draught and the song of a skylark bubbled down through the wind.

On their way back, they came to a field-gate and they leaned against it with their forearms on the bar. The hills rolled and the dark woods bristled, and a buzzard circled above a shining green field.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

He nodded.

She moved her fingers across the lashes of her eyes.

And later, when they went to the beach, they looked at the waves from the water’s edge. They gazed as the ocean rippled, as reams reared, and light-points glittered. They gaped as combers galloped and threw back manes of hissing white mist.

He turned. “And you can’t reconsider?”

She looked at the skyline. The decision was made. Then she took his arm and placed her head on his shoulder. The breakers pounded and the world seemed to shake.


“Transients” first appeared in Flash Frontier, 2020.

IMAGE: Winslow Homer “West Point, Prouts Neck”, 1900. oil on canvas Dimensions Height/ 76.4 cm (30 in); Width/ 122.2 cm (48.1 in). Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1941. Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Maine.

Dave Alcock

Dave Alcock has been interested in flash fiction ever since 2016 when he received Flash Fiction Forward (ed. James Thomas and Robert Shapard) as a surprise gift. He read the first page and was hooked and he has been ever since. His work has been published by Every Day Fiction and Flash Frontier, as well as some other excellent lit-zines, and can also be found in two books published by Ad Hoc Fiction. He works as an editor and lives with his wife and two children in Devon, England.

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paul beckman

Dave, really good.

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