One Sunday at the Beginning

by Alan Beard


She was wearing green to match her eyes. Her body slipped in the dress as she moved. They watched reflections in the water by the mill. Window rectangles made circles. Her face rippled with lines of light reflected up from the water. It made it difficult to discern her features.

The little woman with grey precisely parted hair in the dark corner shop tried to give him copper belonging to a previous customer. A gang of sparrows pecked at dust in the car park. Girls leaned against the wheels of parked lorries. One had hair like a sticky lion’s mane. Each railing cast an angled shadow on to grass. He almost threw the matches up to see the red box blink and sound in the air.

She had watched an angler struggle and net a fish she told him. He looked over. The angler now read The Sunday Mirror, a white oblong in the man’s hands who was otherwise like the bush he sat beside.

He handed her the matches. Her hands, cigarette, light flashed in some deep area of his brain. A cavern. The scene – the river, the shop, the sky, her in the rippling light – was there like a cave painting. He tried not to breathe out.

Two collections of stories published: Taking Doreen Out of the Sky (Picador, 1999) and You Don’t Have to Say (Tindal Street Press, 2010). Recipient of the Tom-Gallon Award and longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize. Stories/‘flashes’ in many magazines and anthologies including London Magazine, Flash Fiction, and Best British Short Stories 2011. Website:


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