Friday 7 June 2013

Flash Fiction: The Promise

Bruised and battered, diminished and forgotten, she still had hope.

She huddled with the others in the darkness, some simply neglected, some broken, others twisted beyond recognition. In the underpass of current affairs they mumbled to one another, about their hopes, about who they once were, about who they could have been and about the few — so very few — who had made it. Spotlights would sometimes scan over them, singling each one out of the darkness. Occasionally one of their number would be pulled out and thrust briefly into the media's gaze, before being thrown back into the blind spot of the public eye.

She had been born sparkling and smiling, gleaming and radiant, a beacon of hope, a symbol of change. She was held up and shown to all, paraded along the party line, praised without hesitation, promised without condition. It was all she knew.

But she began to sense there was more. There were those who doubted, those who criticised, those who spoke of others, of other promises made, promises now neglected, broken and twisted. And for the first time she noticed the darkness beyond the media's light. She saw shadows in the shadow beyond the edge of the platform. She saw the others huddled in the darkness, so many, once like her but now less, so much less.

And in the light she found she was no longer alone. There were others, sparkling and smiling, gleaming and radiant, each one paraded and praised and promised as beacons of hope and symbols of change. As each one arrived the platform became crowded. She was no longer at the front, no longer at the centre of everyone's attention, but still she smiled.

Then came the election. They won. They cheered. This was it. They had done it. They had made it. They awaited fulfilment. All those promises. But the light flickered and drifted away. They found themselves in darkness. They found they were not alone. A few — so very few — were pulled into the distant, fickle light. Most were returned, but never as they were before.

Bruised and battered, diminished and forgotten, she still had hope. Another election was coming.

Restlessness and optimism, a desire for change, a desire for continuity, dissatisfaction and confrontation, proposal and counterproposal. She could feel the winds of rhetoric gathering, spinning, husting. A need for promises, new and old, would set the public stage and recall her to it. She would be prepared, dressed up, made over, sent out once again into the limelight, a promise renewed, repackaged and reaffirmed. She would smile and bask as she did when she was first made.

Maybe this time it would be for real. Maybe this time she would make it. Maybe this time.

"The Promise" was first published as part of the second FlashFlood, in promotion of National Flash-Fiction Day. More background here.


Cat Russell said...

Wow, politics or Hollywood? This could apply to so many people. Well done.

Kath said...

This is such a sharp piece of writing and I thought the pace in this was spot on. You could feel the fleeting nature of her time in the spotlight and how inevitable her replacement was. Excellent piece of writing.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I agree with Cathy, this is both politics and Hollywood. Seems such false hope though.