“2016 – 2021” by Neil Clark


Every day for Five Years, we went to Jean’s Ice Cream Parlour on the corner of Market Square, starting January 10th 2016.
That day, Jean had The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust playing backward on repeat.
She knew who we were.
Our brain was hurting even more than the last time, so she gave us free ice cream and we sat next to a man with a bundle of scrunched up napkins on his table.
He kept dabbing the tears from his eyes and howling at the scorched Earth. Soon, he ran out of space to put his used napkins. The bundle of them reached up to the farthest of the moons and he moved to another table.
In walked the man dressed in black. In walked the woman. She started hitting the man and demanding her children back. The man in black spoke. Told her they were not her children. They were the children of the soldier – the one with the broken arm. The one who was staring at the wheels of a Cadillac while the policeman was kissing the feet of the priest.
The woman sat next to us, at the table vacated by the crying man. She started picking up handfuls of salty napkins from the bundle the howling man left behind.She hurled them at the man in black. The napkins left tiny, salty, moondust comet trails in the sky.
We took her to one side. We gave her a lick of our raspberry ripple, which seemed to calm her down.
After Five Years, Earth really dying took away all the ice-cream and all the cows and the freezers. It took away Jean. There were no more boys, toys, electric irons, and TVs. There was no Market Square.
After Five Years, on January 10th 2021, we left.
Onto the next planet, the next life.



Neil Clark lives and works in Edinburgh, Scotland. His work has previously been showcased alongside other Scottish writers as part of Book Week Scotland, and at fiftywordstories.com. He has short stories in forthcoming issues of Cabinet Of Heed and Riggwelter Press. He regularly posts very short stories on Twitter.


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