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Men with women.

Fortnightly Fiction.
Three very short stories
By MICHAEL BUCKINGHAM GRAY.
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1. The Hug.
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She waddles in. Raises her hand to greet him as she passes the counter. Makes her way to the office in the far corner of the store. ‘Jingle Bells’ plays in the background. Tinsel hangs from the roof and sparkles under the lights. He taps on the keyboard and lifts his head now and then. She reappears holding a small package wrapped in brown paper. Slips behind the counter. And throws her arms around him.
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“Merry Christmas,” she says, as she buries her head in his chest.
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He blushes, but does not try to wiggle free. Counts the seconds instead. And waits for her to release her grip.
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 ♦

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2. Disturbance.
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Sirens wail in the distance. He walks to the mirror and straightens his tie. Fixes his cuffs, and smiles. The doorbell rings. He saunters down the stairs, past the dark, dense oils hanging in heavy frames. Twists the handle. Sunlight pours in. He blinks once or twice, and notes the police officers in front of him. One with her hair in a bun. And grins once more.
“We have received a report,” she says “of a disturbance at this address.”
“You have?” he says.
“Yes.”
“You might like to check the couple across the road.”
“Why is that?”
“They often have loud disagreements,” he says.
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She steps forward, and his face drops.
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“Well, I’m sure you won’t mind if we have just a look, before we go.”
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 ♦

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3. The Elephant.
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Sunlight falls. He pushes himself up, walks to the window and closes the curtains. Returns to his chair. Drops his head into his hands. Hears the rasp of his wife, lying in bed, and her chest struggling to rise. The phone rings. He lets out a sigh and does not move. Recalls his wife saying she did not want anything drawn out. Studies the rug on the floor. Notices the elephants. Remembers running into a baby elephant that once veered out onto the road. Waking. Pulling himself from the wreckage, and wandering over to it, lying on its side. Its eyes still open. And being unable to shoot it.
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Michael Buckingham Gray’s flash fiction has appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Blink-Ink, Seven by Twenty and Cuento Magazine. His debut fiction ‘And Brings Up Loose Dirt’ received a positive review in SmokeLong Quarterly, and his fiction ‘Ash falls’ was a finalist in Cuento Magazine’s Writing About Place Contest. He holds a Master of Creative Practice in Creative Writing from Curtin University and has lectured at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

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