Thursday 3 March 2022

Bland New World


by Linda Flynn

tap water


Ours is a world with the sharp edges polished off; as smooth and as round as a sea pebble.

                How strange to think that only one hundred years ago life was rough with sharp edges, as jagged as one of their books. Yet I find myself riveted, as I once again become drawn to the diary entry. It is so odd that the pain and lack of symmetry radiating from the pages should pull me in, all the things that our society has erased.

I nearly stumbled in the fading light, but I didn’t care. My heart was thumping in my ears as I clattered along the pavement. I kicked the loose stone out of my way and stubbed my foot, I was so angry.

                Due to strict health and safety regulations, all pavements are padded and provided with proper illumination.

                Yet another blazing row with my sister. I hate her smug smile! I hate the way she keeps taking my things! I hate her!

                Although we are all single children, (as multiple breeding is not permitted,) we refer to each other as sister or brother. We all conform to a standard look of idealised beauty.  There is no rivalry. Consequently we are all wrapped in a cotton wool contentment.

                She gave that silly superior grin that she has, then went on and on about my low grades. Our parents have never forgiven me for dropping out of university and she loves to rub it in because she knows it annoys me.

                We enjoy a virtual classroom environment with attainable targets and no recriminations. We are all respected in equal measure.

                I hadn’t realised where I was running to that night. I was nowhere near my home. I was nowhere near my friends. I had no idea how much my life was going to change.

                All of our social interactions must be positive, so they tend to be on the portable net. I am fortunate that I have a number of virtual friends, all of whom endorse my positive self-image. We meet on cyber play dates displayed on multi-dimensional screens. No-one ever feels lonely.

                My only thought as I crashed through the door of the Red Lion was of the anger pumping through my veins.

                For the mind we benefit from core centralisation. If a negative emotion impinges on our rational thought we can literally whisk it away until our central balance has been restored.

                Muscle relaxants are used to dissipate any tension from our bodies.

                There he was, nonchalantly leaning with his back against the wall, as though he didn’t care about anything, although I knew that wasn’t true.

                I grabbed a chair nearest to the door. How many years ago was it that we last met? It must be at least five. But I’d know him anywhere. The way he slouched into his leather jacket and just let his clothes hang off him. The way his hair kept drooping across his forehead, the curve of his nose, with his slightly crooked smile. And I loved every part of him.

                Due to prettification we are now all entitled to surgical enhancement. We are all identically, symmetrically beautiful. An affinity has filtered through society as we all look so similar to each other.

                I allow myself a second to look between the shoulders of the other drinkers. I fix my gaze upon him and I take a gulp. My once childhood friend, older and always looked up to, my first real crush.

                Then there was that moment. His eyes flicked in my direction and I felt the flash of recognition. My heart stopped beating. Slowly his smile spread across his face and he sloped towards me. I wished that I didn’t look such a mess.

                I remained clenched to my chair, unable to breathe.

                An image adjustor helps us to regulate our self-perception with actuality.

                At first, all I was aware of was the exhilaration and the blur of the shadowy landscape, as we flew along on his motorbike. Roaring with power we sped along the lanes, making the countryside our own. I pressed closer to his back and nuzzled my face against his neck. He smelt of shampoo. I felt a surge of anticipation, knowing that when we stopped we would kiss.

                We are in such self-contained units now that we have little need for transportation. When we do, we climb into a Link Compartment which is constructed like beads on a necklace. Providing we press the right buttons, we reach our destination at incredible speed.

                He was late. The rain streamed down in a metallic grey curtain. It seemed to splutter and spurt onto every surface.

                I paced the room. Waiting. The only sound was of the incessant drum beat of the rain as it thrashed on the roof.

                There must be a reason. I checked my phone. He has not called. I tried again. Answer phone.

                Still the rain hammered down.

                We have temperature and meteorological regulators which ensure that we never have to face any adverse weather conditions.  Consequently we often have a gentle shower of rain at around four in the morning.

                I could not wait any longer. I rounded the corner in the direction of his house. Black iridescent puddles of oil seeped across the road.

                Sharp jagged edges of metal leaned against the wall. A road sign drooped in a crooked curve.

                I didn’t hear the screeching brakes. The sharp intake of breath. The clunk of splintering metal. Sirens.

                Only the silence and the splattering rain.

                I noticed the words were smeared on the page, as though by rain. My own eyes felt as hard as marbles.

                I got a paper cut from the page and a speck of blood dropped down.

                For the first time ever I wanted to experience tears, not from my emotions, but from the lack of them.


Linda Flynn has had books published for children and teenagers, six with the Heinemann  Fiction Project, as well as twenty-two short stories, mainly written for adults. In addition, she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines, including theatre reviews. I Knew it in the Bath, an anthology of short stories, will be released in September 2022with Bridge House. She can be found at:

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