I started writing flash fiction to develop some of the ideas in my microfiction.
The mongrel has one ear. The other is missing, a jagged flap of skin covering the skin-puckered hole. From the set of his jaw, he’s part staffie with a lurcher’s tail and part something else. He walks jauntily through the road dust and litter and the new black ash, his tongue lolling like a freshly sliced piece of ham. That’s how I first see him, owning the lonely street and leaving pawprints. He’s the first living thing I’ve seen here.
I’m sat in a cafe, finishing a bottle of juice. I’m still thirsty, grit and powder getting into my mouth and sticking in my nostrils; a grey paste that accrues quicker than I can scrape it out. I take another from the open cooler. It’s still cold. I look out of habit at the till, the counter and the fancy coffee maker. I know there are two piles behind. Two uniform piles and broken crockery.
I crack the seal and swallow, my throat loud in the silence, the second bottle quenching the soreness. I do this standing, trying not to see the piles that flop in dead heaps on chairs. A black suit, a pretty flowered dress, a child’s cardigan. Jewellery and watches and bags and shoes. Half finished cups of coffee and tea and unfinished pastries with mouthed imprints.
At least the electricity is still on. I take a sandwich from the shelf, breaking open the wrapper. Afterwards, I place the plastic in the bin.
Breaking the sandwich into parts, I walk to the door. The dog sees me, stopping and wagging once, eyes flicking from side to side. The stump of his ear sits up comically.
“Here. Come ‘n get it.” I place the piece of sandwich on the floor. The dog wags his tail once more, but remains still.
“Come on. Good boy,” I say. My voice is a whisper, the ash blocking my nose again. My throat. I try not to look at the piles on the pavement. The car wrecks in the street. The layers of burnt remains, blacker near the clothes.
The dog wags his tail and almost reluctantly he walks over. Paw by paw. He sniffs. My hand. My scent. His nose is dried and crusted with soot. He bends and takes it delicately in his front teeth, then swallows in one gulp.
“Hey. Steady boy. Steady.”
He looks at me with amber eyes. Liquid gold-flecked and textured eyes that I could fall into. I reach for his collar. He beats the dust with his tail.
“Good boy. What’s your name?” I find the silver disk beneath his chin. A number and a single word. Lucky.