Featured

Open Heart Surgery

“In our home town, in the nursery where we played and fought like adults. I find it deep in a box of toy cars, remnants of your blood on the plastic, a motorway pile-up in miniature.”

My story “Open Heart Surgery” is published today over at Ellipsis Zine.

http://www.ellipsiszine.com/open-heart-surgery-by-paul-thompson/

Ninety-five percent of my anxieties are unfounded

Ninety-five percent of my anxieties are unfounded. She tells me at our weekly breakfast. To focus on the genuine five percent. The following week I do so, spending ninety-five percent of my time on it. When we meet again, I know ninety-five percent of my anxieties are founded. Focus on the new five percent, she says. And so it goes on, worrying about worrying, and how to tell her I no longer enjoy our breakfasts.

***

This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

Anxiety Returns in the Form of Birdsong

It returns at dawn, hours after you wake. Sunlight through the attic window, signalling an end to your hibernation.
 
An owl is first, from the woods behind your house. A pulsating reminder of the owls you have outlived and the many more to follow. You align your breathing with its pattern, slow and predictable. Hold your breath for longer than comfortable, letting nature guide your meditation.
 
Birdsong follows and fills the space. Pouring in through the open attic window. Infinite chirps and overlapping voices, all demanding your attention. Thousands of mini breaths per second, a clarity failing to settle.
 
A woodpecker is next, hammering its message on every tree you can remember.
 
The buzz of a phone call from the bedside table, most probably work. During this absence you learn of the birdsong. How they copy adults in the same way as humans. How they mimic accents and adapt pitch over time.
 
You wish to join their song, but your voice box is wrong, missing vital parts.
 
Try as you might, you sound too human.
 
***
 
The birdsong pauses. A brief and tantalising silence, bringing the present into focus. You question yourself and listen hard for the constants. The distant rumble, overlapping memories, stars collapsing overhead. You wonder if it’s a myth. If you could close your eyes and slip through time. Return to a younger version of you who dreams of your future self.
 
***
 
Downstairs is the sound or routine. A knocking on the bedroom door, the kids wanting to say hello, wanting to say goodbye for the day. During this absence you learn of the humans and their song. How they learn from the birds, adapting their behaviour to function within chaos.
 
You stretch your wings under the sheets, flightless and extinct. missing vital parts.
 
And then it returns, the birdsong. Accompanied by a dog barking next door. A car alarm from somewhere on the estate, and the sound of commuters returning to work.

Good for the Garden

“Good for the garden, my father says.

His skin prickles, raindrops on the window reflecting his anxiety.

Good for your father, my mother says. Behind his back, whispering it to me as we watch him fidget.”

My story, “Good for the Garden” can be found over at Ellipsis Zine.

http://www.ellipsiszine.com/good-for-the-garden-by-paul-thompson/

Pool Party

“She reaches the house at dusk, unfashionably late for the party.

The venue is illuminated and noisy. As she approaches the front door a cocktail glass is thrown from above, shattering on the driveway behind her. Laughter comes from the rooftop terrace, followed by further objects that all miss her as she walks.”

My story, “Pool Party” can be found over at The Cabinet Of Heed.

https://cabinetofheed.com/2018/02/01/pool-party-paul-thompson/

In The Shadow of the Sound Tower

“The sound tower is silent, abandoned in the dunes, windswept and dated. Conditions are calm, nullifying its function. On still days like these, the tower finds itself a relic.”

My story, “In The Shadow of the Sound Tower” can be found over at The Cabinet Of Heed.

In The Shadow of the Sound Tower – Paul Thompson 

Featured

We all have the best of intentions

We all have the best of intentions. Like these teenagers in the park, holding a silver balloon. On it, the words RIP Dad. You can’t release that here, someone says, it’s not biodegradable. It is a middle aged man, dressed in running gear. They argue as he tries to take it from them. In the struggle the balloon bursts, ashes exploding into their eyes and mouths, scattering up into the air and across the city.

***

This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

A list of things I cannot hear

A list of things I cannot hear. All because of the tinnitus, the high frequency noise that whistles in my ears. I am oblivious to crickets in the wildflower. The hiss of our central heating. Dripping taps in other rooms. The hum of anything electrical. Chinese whispers passed on by children. Interference on the radio. The early signs of a storm. And late at night, consumed by these lists, I can barely hear myself think.

***

This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

A sad face appears at the window

A sad face appears at the window. On the first day of spring, sunlight highlighting the
dirty glass, revealing a face in the dust. Thumbprints for eyes, a grin drawn with a smear, the unmistakable work of a child. He examines the face, his nose almost touching. His past self would yell, and tidy up behind them, but today he leaves the window filthy, as he did last year, and the many summers before it.

***

This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet