Lights by Gary Duncan

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You take the back roads because the motorway scares you, especially at night. Your wife says, “Really? We’re doing this? You can’t drive in a straight fucking line?” She checks her watch and folds her arms noisily.
She apologises to everyone when you get there. “I’m not pointing the finger at anyone,” she says, pointing her finger at you, “but it was his fault.”
It’s not the dark that scares you. It’s the lights, the glare of headlamps, the blur of neon, the flashing reds and yellows and blues. Lights everywhere.
Mary, your sister-in-law, ushers you to the end of the table, to the chair with the wonky leg, next to Vincent, her new boyfriend. Vincent is an orthodontist, and Belgian. He’s got long hair and a beard and he looks like Jesus, if Jesus had worked out and looked after himself. Your wife says you might want to ask him about your teeth.
Later, Mary corners you in the kitchen. “Your wife is upstairs,” she says, “having a little cry.”
You say, “I don’t know what to do anymore. She’s always crying.”
“What you really need to do is get a fucking grip. Before it’s too late. She won’t put up with you forever.”
You make coffee. Mary doesn’t have any decent stuff, so you help yourself to one of her pods. Gingerbread latte.
You feel her behind you, watching you.
“No coffee for me,” she says. “Vincent says it stains.”
Vincent leaves early. Mary sees him off and you watch them kiss in the hallway. Vincent is tall, well over six feet, and he has to bend his knees. He’s almost out of the door when Mary pulls him back and slips her hand down the front of his trousers. A little keepsake.
“He had to hurry,” she says later. “One of his kids is poorly.”
Your wife is drunk but insists on driving home. She drops her keys somewhere between the house and the car, and you spend five minutes on your hands and knees, scraffling around in the dark for them.
She heads straight for the motorway, for the outside lane. The car starts to vibrate when she hits ninety.
“Isn’t he fucking divine?” she shouts over the engine. “And an orthodontist!”
She veers into the inside lane, then back out again.
Vincent, she says, is going to open another practice, his third. “Maybe his fourth,” she says. “I don’t know, I might have been a little bit drunk by then, and those eyes, those Jesus eyes!”
You say you hadn’t noticed his eyes.
“Did you know he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year?” she says. “For charity. Mary says he’s always doing things like that.”
You look out of the window, into the imperfect darkness.

Gary Duncan

Gary Duncan’s stories have appeared in Unbroken JournalX-R-A-Y Literary MagazineFlash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine100 Word Story, and New Flash Fiction Review, among others. His flash fiction collection, You’re Not Supposed to Cry, is available from Vagabond Voices.

Other Works

My collection of flash fictions, You’re Not Supposed to Cry, is available from Vagabond Voices (Glasgow, 2017):

A few sample stories…

“Adjective, Ten Letters” (Ellipsis Zine) –

“Heads or Tails” (Unbroken Journal) –

“Whale” (Train Lit) –

“Thrice Around the Walls of Troy” (Flashback Fiction) –

Social Media Handles & links


Twitter: @garyjohnduncan


Cover Image by Pixabay


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