The look by Kevin Murphy


This trigger was to use a one minute thought stream – yes we are thinking/dreaming all the time – as the basis for a piece of flash fiction or poetry. What can you come up with in, say, fifteen minutes?

The Thought stream:

Fay,  Grenley, Gringley Beacon, you can see 13 power stations from here, Boar’s Hill, you can see the city of Gleaming spires from here – or you used to, Greyfriars, Fr Peter, Ss Anthony and Francis at the foot of the cross – Oxford in the background. Boar’s Hill belvedere donated by a philanthropist – gone to seed, trees now overgrown the view. Huge waste. Gringley pace egging down the slope, bit easy.

I picked out the Gringley (Armada) beacon in North Notts and compared it to the Boar’s Hill Oxford Belvedere as captured in a painting in Greyfriars Oxford when I was a boy. Love crept in between.

The Story:

The Look

‘You can see the City of Gleaming Spires from here – or you should be able to.’

An overgrown clump surrounded by trees – could be anywhere.

She decides to raise awareness and funds to sort it out.

Compare and contrast: poor little Gringley, a beautifully kept beacon  ans you really can see thirteen power stations from there.

Rich Oxford, not bothered with the view which has provided its epithet. I’m visiting and see this girl who won’t catch my eye.

In a skinny rib, did they call it?

Hides her paperwork, back to me.

See her bra strap.

Likes the interest I’ve shown – told her about my village Beacon.

Hands me the sponsor form and a postcard view – it’s the one on the Greyfriars backdrop – I bet the artist used it. I wonder if this is his original, the basis on which  the Friars commissioned their painting?

Then the look as she goes to pass me.

I felt her bosom against the back of my hand as she squeezed past.

There really was no need, there was plenty of room.

Was that a kiss?

I don’t know. Was it? Did I dream it?

I make sure I get plenty of sponsors and a bunch of friends from college to join too. ‘Pace Egging? You’re joking!’ But they joined in anyway.

I thought I’d help her set up. She had a few there. I was a bit of a spare part. Most important thing is to be able to find your bloody egg, sorry, I beg your pardon, that sort of lang… won’t get me… who am I kidding, she’s spoken for?

She’s looking at them. She’s really looking at him. But it’s not the look – not the one I mean.

This beacon thing, this heap that the old boy had built – probably like us and bunch of fellow students he bamboozled into barrowing  … you couldn’t barrow up there. It was an engineering feat. Anyway, it’s all overgrown – couldn’t have been mown all last season. Two hunks have brought scythes. Scythes! Where on earth did they find them. They can work them too. Grass and weeds falling neatly in swathes, waves round the … tumulus, hummock, barrow … what is it?

Bet she’s got some lumberjacks on the city side … maybe that’s what the funds are for. There are full trees blocking the view.

But not my view.

Her back again.

Her arse.

Look away.

It’s not for the likes of you.

Look back. Such a figure. Petite with long hair, short and narrow waste. Shape. Auburn. Swishy. (That’s my brain I think.)

She turned and caught me. A nod. She knows. Looks away. Looks back. That look. Looks away.

‘… Oh and this is Darrel.’

Darrel. Oh. It is, is it? It’s Darrel.

I ache. I ache all over. It’s not ache, but I can’t describe it and it is all over.

It was that look.

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