Them Naming Me Trespasser by Marissa Hoffmann

Before I was lying on my front in my own piss at the edge of the platform, I was standing on the tracks facing that freight train.

Before I jumped down onto them tracks, I looked into the yellow eyes of a pigeon watching me from in the station roof. It stopped cooing and cocked its head, like it was saying, you gud?—like it cared.

Before the station master shouted to stand back, I watched a man lift his toddler onto his forearm, rest his stubbled cheek against his son’s, point into the distance, the boy pressed his hands over his ears.

Before I two-at-a-timed them steps, I bought a proper ticket—used the pocket money Gran gave me from when I went to say goodbye, she tutted—in the way she does, reached in the back of the cupboard under the sink, got the cotton wool, the disinfectant.

Before Jed had to hit me in the face for messing up that deal—teach me a lesson, he said I’ve got what it takes for dealin, he said, ‘start small, build it up’, he said, ‘bring in a bit of cash to help out.’

Before I shaved off my hair, I woke up loaded in the doorway of the camping shop on Southgate, saw the sight of myself in the window.

Before the mad night, that started with just blazing in the park, I swear I got to school on time for the last exam, but then I bunked it, coz what’s fucking the point?

Before I cleared out my locker—just crumpled pages, Mum ruffled my hair, said it needed cutting, said a heatwave was coming—cooler for revising, she said she thought I looked the spit of my dad.

Before my main-Jed said about fucking-it-all-right-off, said about, going-down-the-fields, running-from-the-copperellas, I never had blud, I was kicked around a bit, kept myself to myself.

Before Dad dipped, we watched the trains from the footbridge, watched the squirrels in the trees, heard the rumble, felt the whoosh, the rattle, held hands—two squeezes—everything’s okay.

After I heard his voice in my head, I scrambled up the wall, and when the train stopped screaming, the pigeons started cooing again. I was pranging out, body too heavy, couldn’t get my arms out from under me and I cooed. I cooed and I cooed.

Marissa Hoffmann’s flash writing has appeared in Bending Genres, The Drabble, Milk Candy Review, and The Citron Review to name a few. Her work was recently nominated for a BIFFY award and in competitions, Marissa’s stories have been shortlisted at the Bath Flash Fiction Award and Flash Frontier and highly commended at FlashBack Fiction and Flash 500. She is a fiction reader at Atticus Review and tweets @Hoffmannwriter

A flock of sheep in the midst
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