Read Neil Clark's story on 'Elephants Never' to avoid spoilers: 'Aurora.'
I sometimes wonder whether I’m drawn to a particular piece of flash fiction because I can’t imagine writing it myself, or whether it’s because I can imagine writing it myself. Well, this time, with Neil Clark’s ‘Aurora,’ on Elephants Never, I know it's definitely the former.
The overall tone of this piece is a wonderful combination of wholesome flirtation and colourful metaphysics. The first line, ‘When I cook for you, your face lights up,’ offers the first indication of the characters’ loving relationship and the first reference to ‘light.’ The first person narration, who speaks to ‘you,’ invites the reader into the relationship, making us a part of the narrator's extravagant teasing.
The carelessness of matching the ‘pilot shot-for-shot,’ makes me smile, as does the thought of listening to the pilot's anecdotes before jumping out of the aeroplane as it ‘careers into the side of a cliff.’ It is at this point the romantic metaphysics kick in. There’s the wonderful image of the narrator, ‘parachuting back home through the polar light with the flames from the cliff warming my back.’ And the touch of collecting the aurora in a ‘dusty Glenmorangie bottle,’ is spot on and makes me happy.
The aurora, then, is the secret ingredient that makes the narrator’s cooking so special. And all this time I’ve been using Worcestershire Sauce to woo the ladies.
The more I read and write flash fiction, the more aware I am of last lines. Think of the acrobat who carries out her cartwheels and flips expertly, only to stumble and fall on the dismount. When I read the last line of ‘Aurora,’ I see an acrobat doing that thing with her arms above her head, and saying ‘ta-dah.’ I’m a sucker for vivid colours in description, and this last line is very well done indeed. As our characters pant their, ‘heavy mint greens and hot scarlet,’ I see the aurora streaming above the north pole.
A fantastic piece of flash fiction.
Note to self: Remember to stick the landing. (ta-dah!)