Things observed on a government-sanctioned outing. Creative non fiction by Katie Oliver

… hands sweating in black latex gloves, gripped tight around buggy handles. Feet pacing in time to the anxious stab of my heart.

… masked pedestrians swerving to avoid each other, eyes cast down with stunned embarrassment at the social faux-pas they’re forced to commit.

… a blackbird perching on a wall, bold enough to fix us with an enquiring eye; close enough for us to see the crushed worm hanging from its beak.

… trees weighed down with fat fuchsia blossoms vivid against blue sky thick with cotton clouds. Floating petals that remind me to breathe.

… pigeons fussing over crumbs. My son thinks they’re eagles and I let him believe it.

… a lemon discarded on the pavement. This will be the thing my son remembers most about this outing: a splash of yellow against the grey grit. Sunshine in the dirt. We both laugh out loud and wonder how it got there.

… rainbows glowing from every other window; blue hearts with white writing. We love the NHS.

… tears that kaleidoscope my vision and threaten to drip onto the gloved hands that I wouldn’t be advised to wipe my eyes with.

… my son twisting round to face me, saying ‘I make a rainbow,’ with solemn determination.

… his grin at my reply: ‘We can make one together.’

… my kiss on the top of his blonde head.


Katie Oliver writes flash fiction, poetry and short stories. She has recently been shortlisted or commended in various flash fiction competitions, including the Bridport Prize, Reflex Fiction and the Bath Flash Award, with further work published by Funny Pearls and Popshot Quarterly. Her short story, ‘TimeOut’, features in The Box, (Fincham Press, 2019). She can be found on Twitter under @katie_rose_o

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *