Here’s a wee story I wrote for http://www.zeroflash.org for the August competition. We were asked to write about how the world would be if it were missing something we all take for granted:

The world has ceased to turn and the dust is accumulating.

From my window I used to be able to see the sea, distant and alluring. Even on overcast days there was a sparkle on the horizon, a promise of the annual renewal. Once upon a time I watched in wonder as, each year, impossibly tender leaves began to shoot from the bare wood of the small bushes outside my window.

But the time of miracles is over. Now everything is enveloped in dust and my mind has become dull. The spiders are the only creatures which thrive. Still they spin across my room, back and forth, and each day a little more of my life is obscured.

I am free to come and go, but it feels increasingly pointless. Everywhere I go is becoming the same, buried under the dust. Even short journeys sap my energy.

I have heard that this has happened before, in cities of the ancient world. But I think that in Pompeii and in Herculaneum the people did not suffer. Death took them by surprise. Now the dust falls slow. Each day we breathe a little less. There is talk of us all being issued with masks, but who here can do this, and what would be the point?

Today even the spiders have slowed down. There are no longer any flies for them to catch and their webs droop. I go to my window and all I see is the dust, falling like grey snow. I pick up a photograph of my old cat, long gone to the great mystery. I smile as I remember the way she scampered in the twilight. Such a happy memory. Now the light is fading but I hold, very tightly, onto that memory.

And still falls the dust.

About Cath Barton

Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in South Wales. In June 2017 she was awarded the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella, and her novella The Plankton Collector was published by New Welsh Review in September 2018. Her second novella, In the Sweep of the Bay, was published by Louise Walters Books in November 2020. Cath is also active in the on-line community of writers of flash fiction.
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1 Response to Dust

  1. well I have to say…..I was feeling less than sprightly when I ventured into your tale….now i’m off to insert my face into a blender for light relief!!!!!

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