Steve frowns and pours another scotch. He’s trying to work out the best way to finish with Megan and it’s doing his head in. Face-to-face isn’t going to happen – his second new year’s resolution is to avoid being slapped and called a cunt – and he’s read somewhere, probably in a magazine at the barber’s, that splitting up over the phone is rude or uncool or takes ages because of the tears and apologies. He pours another scotch. She likes receiving postcards and letters – ‘So much more personal than texts and emails’ – but his handwriting’s terrible and he’s got what his doctor calls ‘tennis-ish elbow’. Her fridge magnets would do the job, but he’d have to take a ‘v’ from the last line of a poem he wrote: ‘Our love is forever’. Unless he didn’t sign off with his full name. But just ‘S’ might look like he scarpered or couldn’t be bothered to finish. He pours another scotch. He dismisses cutting words from a newspaper, partly because he’s not a fan of glue, partly because he doesn’t have any glue. And he wouldn’t want her to think he was copying that Dirty Harry sequel where … Wasn’t it in Sudden Impact when the … Unless it was … He pours another scotch. He remembers an Etch A Sketch in her spare bedroom. He frowns and pours another scotch.
Ashley Chantler is co-director of the International Flash Fiction Association, and co-editor of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press.