1st Place NZ National Flash Fiction Day competition 2020. First published in Flash Frontier (June 2020)
We rode with the wind at our backs. Cut across Mr Sandbird’s yard even as he yelled at us to get off his property. Gave him the finger and laughed and laughed. Then hurried down the dirt track that led straight into the heart of the wetlands. We humped our bikes through the ripe cattails, deep into a world of punks until our tires sunk into the muck. Then we ditched them, let our sneakers squelch in the swamp water as we made a game of pulling at the cotton fluff exploding from the brown spikes. We busted all we could see, picking at the delicate seedlings, spraying them on the breeze. We chased each other through the marsh, the reeds slicing our arms and legs until we stumbled onto several silk caterpillar tents. We poked them with sticks and watched as the fisted larvae untangled and crawled into the sunlight, stood back as some dropped to the ground, squatted to see them squirm and slowly sink into the mire. We captured grasshoppers, as many as we could fit into our cupped hands. Felt their wings beat against our palms and shook them like dice before casting them as far as we could. We found a water snake and took turns holding it by its tail, swinging it round and round above our heads. But when we found a bird’s nest full of delicate eggs, the air between us turned sour. And when you grabbed one and squeezed it until the gooey guts of a baby bird spilled out, we fought until you had a black eye and I had a bloody nose. And then you grabbed the rest of the eggs in both of your fists, looked me right in the eye, and squeezed until you’d crushed them all.
1st place – NZ National Flash Fiction Day competition 2020
First published in Flash Frontier June 2020
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