One thing after another by Richard Barr

Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

It’s just one thing after another, and once you get over the last thing you got over, thinking you’d never survive it – but you did! – here comes the next thing. And you think to yourself, once more, how am I going to come out the other end of this – but you will…you will and you do!

Yet there are those occasions, you’re met by a set of circumstances, an occurrence perhaps, and you just drop everything you’re carrying, just let it all fall, clattering, to the floor. Because in that very moment, it is, suddenly, the whole of your world, and those things you’re nestling in the crook of your arm don’t matter anymore. You must relieve yourself of them, because what you need now are empty hands and unburdened arms. Your body, just your body and you to meet this new thing.

And it’s only then it dawns on you, that unlike in times before, this time this thing is something you don’t understand. Are unable to get a handle on. You cannot counter it because you aren’t equipped to.

So then maybe you are relieved in a way. Let the fates take you and yours as they will. You do not have to fight this one, because you are utterly unable to, and so you do take some

comfort in laying down your sword without even having to wield it this time.

Knowing that those times before, when you exhausted yourself fighting this one, or facing down that one, will not be this time. This time you have surrendered before the battle flag’s even been raised. This time you will lay down and let them –it – roll over you, and all you can hope for now is that your long-expected humbling will be met with grace, and that your suffering will be fleeting and, somehow, mercifully exacted.

You always said, in the midst of your conflicts, and sometimes when it looked like total loss was inevitable, you always said that ‘the person that refuses to laugh at themselves, forfeits their right to laugh at another’. One may be forgiven for thinking a statement like that was issued to save face, to try and repackage the whole thing as a farce to take the bad look of the fact that, in the end, you might be required to fall on your sword. But that never happened;  victory was always snatched from the jaws of defeat. So often, actually, that people got to talking, accusing you of, from the very start, always having a card up your sleeve, only stretching proceedings out for dramatic effect.

But now, as you pick through the ruins of this, your complete demise, you, with reluctance, ultimately come up empty, without consolation. And yet an all-encompassing sense of peace and resolution reaches out to you, through all the murk.

Because just like that, you realise this is yet another thing you have met – met and overcome: your routing, at last.

Richard Barr’s had several stories published in the last few years, including in Lancaster University’s The Luminary and The Big Issue. More recently he’s been published in The Honest Ulsterman, Litro Magazine, New Critique, Misery Tourism, Sonder Magazine, Headstuff and Bristol Noir, with work upcoming in Terror House Magazine.