Flash fiction ‘Love Birds’ by Rita Shelley

Jeff had suggested the movie. Usually they just talked for hours.

Even as shadows lengthened, the pavement radiated the day’s heat. They passed block after block of once-grand buildings with stone lions and courtyards.

City kids, they welcomed the long walk to the theatre away from their cramped apartments. Jeff, 14, read insatiably. He oscillated between stuttering and delivering speeches like an orator twice his age. Cynthia never tired of listening. She, too, was 14.

Jeff had just read The Birds and was curious how Hitchcock dealt with the story. Jeff was paying. For once he had money. The butcher had finally paid him for the deliveries he made after school.

“Is this a date?” Cynthia wondered silently. “Do I want it to be?”

The lobby was almost empty. Corn popped seductively but they chose Bonbons, chocolate-covered ice-cream balls, heaven in a box. The walls of the auditorium were painted with vines and ancient statues. Stars twinkled on the ceiling. Cynthia shivered with the overzealous air conditioning and Hitchcock’s terrifying scenes.

Jeff was so close Cynthia could smell the detergent in his shirt. She wondered if he might take her hand. Maybe she would take his? But all hands remained frozen in place.

They walked into a wall of steamy heat as they exited the theatre.

“I hope we don’t see any birds,” said Cynthia, almost joking.

“I won’t be around tomorrow.”

“Helping your mum with the shopping?”

“There’s a new girl in my class. I promised I’d help her with chemistry.”




This story placed first equal in the Whangarei Libraries Flash Fiction Competition 2016

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