Circling the Nasturtiums
Butterflies were circling the nasturtiums in a frenzied race to find nectar, but it had not yet flowered. It was a lush green and ripe for bloom, when the flame flower would climb, scrambling through other plants, covering unsightly fences. She had not yet flowered, when the ‘gardener’ had grabbed her by the waist and forced her onto his lap, kissing her neck and asking her to marry him. She had been nine years of age, he sixteen. She had tried to explain the age difference. He had told her that he didn’t care. The thought had repulsed her, her fierce kicks into the centre of his shins adding weight to her no, and her get off me. He had eventually let go, accepted her resistance too late.
He came back the next Christmas, transformed from ‘odd job man’ to ‘carol singer.’ She wanted to run down the stairs and throttle him, squeeze the life from his lungs the way he had squeezed the innocence from her heart; but the sound of his voice fixed her feet to the landing floor. She listened, stomach circling, heart raging. How dare he violate her space, steal her innocence. He wouldn’t be the last, but she didn’t know then. One day, she would turn into a butterfly, circling the others, warding off the odd job men, because there would be more, there were always more.
F.C. Malby is a contributor to Unthology 8 and Hearing Voices: The Litro Anthology of New Fiction. Her debut short story collection, My Brother Was a Kangaroo includes award-winning stories, and her debut novel, Take Me to the Castle, won The People's Book Awards. Her short fiction has been longlisted in The New Writer Magazine Annual Prose and Poetry Prizes, the TSS Publishing Microfiction Contest, and won the Litro Magazine Environmental Disaster fiction competition. Her stories have also been widely published both online and in print.
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