By Laura Besley
Late summer, when the grapes are soft and sweet, Robert sleeps with another woman. He cries and this near-stranger holds him to her naked chest, his tears pooling in her clavicle. Walking home, after, he worries he might have upset her and stops on a street corner – contemplating whether he should go back to apologise.
The next one is easier (tears don’t come until he’s back in his attic room); the third more so (no tears), and before he knows it, he’s bed-hopping his way through the rusty autumn of 1995. Robert knows it’s vile, but the senoritas are so determined to fix the broken-hearted foreigner, he feels it would be rude to refuse.
By winter – no longer a boy who believes in fairytales – he wonders whether he is now enough of a man to hold onto a woman like Elspeth.
Laura Besley is the author of micro fiction collection, 100neHundred (Arachne Press, 2021), and flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers (Dahlia Books, 2020).
She has been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers. Her work has been nominated for Best Micro Fiction and her story, To Cut a Long Story Short, will appear in the Best Small Fiction anthology in 2021.
Having lived in the Netherlands, Germany and Hong Kong, she now lives in land-locked central England and misses the sea.