Flash Fiction: Saving Time

This tiny story was inspired by an exercise set at Doncaster Writers' Group.  The story had to include a man, a young girl, a mother, a bench, an ice cream, a bank and a coat. The image is supplied by Pixabay and the protagonists' names may bear a certain resemblance to minor characters in a popular kids' story involving wizards. But hey, didn't TS Eliot say that all good writing is borrowing?  Or something like that?  

James stepped off the bus and frowned at the view.  Outside the bank, there was no cash machine or security screen.  The staff were all dressed in olde-worlde clothes.  He dropped onto the bus stop bench and looked around.
A girl walked past eating an ice-cream.  She was wrapped in a short, mint-green trenchcoat.  He'd seen one like it before, tattered and moth-eaten at the back of his mother's wardrobe when he and his sister had cleared her house out for her move into the home.
"Lily," he called, not really believing himself, but she turned her head towards him, squinted in concentration, then walked over to the bench and sat down beside him.
He didn't know what to say.
"Where am I?" he asked finally.
"Brighton."  Well, obviously.
"I mean.. when?"
"Tuesday morning."
"OK, I mean... this is going to sound crazy, but what year is this?"
"I'm dreaming, right?  I must be.  I tripped, getting off the bus, and hit my head."
"I can pinch you, if you like," Lily suggested.
James was saved from needing to reply by a sudden scream.  Everyone turned towards the bank.
A masked man brandished a gun at the cashier, then turned to spray bullets wildly.  James dived for cover, sweeping Lily to the floor along with him.
Then everything went black.
When he came to, his head pounded as he sat up and looked around.  There was the cash machine, the security screens were back in place and the cashiers wore modern uniforms.
"What happened?" James asked.
"You tripped getting off the bus." An elderly lady fussed around him. "Do you need a doctor?"
James remembered a newspaper clipping he'd seen when they cleared out his Mum's house.  She had indeed narrowly avoided injury in a bank robbery during her youth.  And she'd never again seen the man who saved her.  But if he told anybody about his experience, they'd only think he'd been hallucinating.  
"No, I'm fine," he said.  The afternoon's events would remain his secret.  Or perhaps he'd share them with his Mum next time he went to visit the home.    

If you enjoy realism with a quirky paranormal twist, why not download a sample of my girl-meets-genie romance, Djinn and Tonic?


  1. What a great story Stephanie. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wonder what you'd have come up with for this prompt? It's always interesting to see the different directions people take.


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