Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 55
strawberry moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Lost for Words, by Andrea Damic

new works

Ali Mckenzie-Murdoch

floater: A shot released with a high arc. Sometimes called a teardrop

Every Saturday, Manu festoons the ivy-clad walls. Swathes of starched cotton swallow every brick, slashed into blue and red stripes, stars bursting beside crescent moons. A musty cupboard funk, the hint of Indian spices, mothballs, and aftershave, envelopes Manu as he unfurls the colours. He smoothes the fabric, his brown hand leathery, his fingers curling against his will. His spine is a string of lead shot, but the flags will flutter and his grandson, Charlie, will see he's strong enough to stay.

Charlie chugs down escalators, tall in his Air Jordans. On the street he floats, rehearsing dunks and swerves, rehearsing what he will say to the old man. Charlie would rather be shooting hoops, but Manu is the last link to his parents. Sometimes, Charlie imagines he’s a basketball star, everyone wants him on their team. He pictures a podium by the garden wall, a gold medal glinting on the ribbon around his neck, and always, Manu’s banners, soaring. Yeah, his Pops. The old man really should go into care. He will say it this time.

But this Saturday, the wall is bare.

Charlie’s long limbs shrink, tiny as the day his parents’ lives vaporized in the sky. Not wanting to disturb, he hovers over his grandfather, awash in his single bed, a crocheted blanket pulled up to his stubbly chin. As if Manu might take another breath. Charlie drapes his body with stars and stripes. Crescent moons.

Ali Mckenzie-Murdoch (UK) lives in Zürich, Switzerland. Her work appears or is forthcoming in JMWW, Fractured Lit, Ilanot Review, Litro, Flash Frontier, Bright Flash Literary Review and others. She is a Fractured Lit Flash Open Contest Finalist, was shortlisted for the National Flash Fiction Day 2023 Micro-Fiction Competition and received an Honourable Mention in the 2023 Scribes Prize.