A new flash challenge, once again a picture
George mouthed his lover’s name as he fixed the last lightbulb in place. He noted the display didn’t draw much attention, only the odd glance and one or two smiles. He was sure they knew why he had put lights on this bare tree, why the city authority had left it alone. Dan would have said they’d ‘twigged’ and broken down in giggles. How he missed that giggle.
Sighing he turned to the barred and padlocked door and its graffitied sign, still just about recognisable as ‘Pink Flamingo’.
‘Best dance scene ever, eh Dan?’ George’s breath left a steamy film on the dirty cracked window as he peered inside. No one wanted this place, not after what Gillan Housego had done. George strained as he always did to remember any of it; the shots, the screams, the inevitable smell of blood but nothing survived the bullet’s kindness in removing the horror as it took his consciousness. He knew, from the reports, that Dan died early on. He read with disbelief, in the months after he emerged from the coma, of 140 other deaths. The young and not so young, men and woman, all seeking a safe place just to be themselves despite so many disapproving of their lifestyles.
He should have been number 142 but he had lived. It took him months to go back and wonder why. He sat in the tree’s shade and let the voices emerge. He learnt each name, each one part of his village. They would not be forgotten.
That’s when the idea of the lights came to him, one light for the light that had gone out.
‘Hi. George, is it?’
The woman’s hair was a vibrant candy-floss stripe.
‘Mel? I recognise you from your photo. You’re the first.’
She touched her hair. ‘I’ve not dyed it since, you know. Which one…?’
He tapped a bulb. ‘Phyllis.’
‘You know them all?’
‘Sure.’ Two men joined them, studying the branches. ‘I’m expecting over 100 today.’
One of the men said, ‘Such a lovely gesture.’
‘Memorial. I’m keeping it going.’ George dabbed away a tear. ‘These particular fairy lights ain’t never going out.’
And to my surprise I won!