Flash Fiction Competition: The First Step

1st place - The First Step by Caroline Barden  

I’ve been left in a draughty corridor, my stomach in a painful knot. No-one has made me feel comfortable, but then I don’t deserve that.

I hadn’t been going to come at first. I’d thought about it, but it scared me, and I didn’t think I would have anything to add because lots of people were there. But I couldn’t sleep, there was too much blood in my dreams and the screams of the young man kept ringing in my ears.

I’ll have to tell them how I watched the crowd gathering, phones held high to catch the action. How the minutes went slowly by until the pavement was stained with blood and the young man looked like a heap of rumpled clothes. And how I didn’t help. I didn’t even call the police, but someone called them because I heard sirens approaching. That’s when I slipped away.

A week’s gone by. I’ve looked up the young man’s home town on Google maps now. It didn’t make much sense, and it’s nowhere I’ve ever been for a holiday. I’ve also remembered how, when I was in hospital, my Mum visited me every day. I heard that this man has only got two friends in the country, no family, no neighbours. That made me cry when I thought about it. I’ve been scanning the crowds in town looking for his friends, to see if I’ll recognise them, willing them to be OK and back to normal. I haven’t got much to go on though – dark hair and blue anoraks and both so skinny.

I wish I’d called the police when I first saw things brewing. I’d seen the gang taunting the young man using hateful language, he smiled at them at first before he realised. Then the beating, on and on.

I went to the hospital this morning, I took some fruit and left my name with the nurse. I’ll go again next week. Maybe he’ll have a coffee with me when he’s out, maybe he could use a friend, even one who did so little.

The policeman is calling me now …

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