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Monday, July 9, 2012


Flash fiction first published at: http://flash-frontier.com/2012/04/20/april-after-the-party/ 

Orphans' Christmas.

‘Orphans’. All rounded lips, sibilants and breathy voiceless fricatives. The word has a softness which belies its hard factual edge. 


My brother and I wondered who’d rung the cops.

When our parents drove south for their eighteenth anniversary, in late December 1988, we held an impromptu party. The lounge, where usually mum knitted as dad commented through newspapers, became a den of iniquity. Friends gathered. Thirty swelled to sixty. We roughly pushed aside the lush fresh-smelling Christmas tree. Music played. Pot was smoked, beer was sculled. Noise control visited, twice. Drunk kids lurched onto the street, hurtled over fences, traipsed through gardens and rolled semi-naked on front lawns. Neighbours’ tempers frayed. The cops came the next morning – later than anticipated, considering. 

I answered the door to a navy blue uniform. From under its severe peaked cap, a deep voice demanded an answer: “Ashley and Paul Adams?” 

A silent colleague stood unblinking beneath his own authoritative headgear. Scared, I recalled the night’s illegal activity.

“I’m Ashley,” my brother bravely admitted. His age advantage determined he speak first. 

The deep voice delivered a sucker punch. “We regret to inform you... .” 

It wasn’t what we’d feared. 


Now, every Christmas, a decorated tree’s scent evokes extant memories of that night: a former version of itself topples at our party while a larger remote manifestation simultaneously falls unseen across SH5 near Napier, failing to be avoided by my parents’ southbound Holden Commodore. 

‘Christmas’. After the party, the word’s joyous sonance belies its truthful dread.