Paper Towns

In a break from my usual poetry, here’s an attempt at Flash Fiction inspired by the generous prompt ‘Paper towns’ from Stephanie’s blog, be kind rewrite. Stay with me on this one, its heavily dream influenced, but I’m hoping it slides off the paper as easily as poetry…We’ll see!

Paper Towns

William is playing with his toys on the landing again. The room drove me out here he thinks, it’s so full of books. Books with covers as lifelike as a movie set. Books full of worlds that could suck you in. Reading just one could leave you an old man. And the painting on the wall: houses with twisted faces peering down at the street far below, and the boy huddled in his bed, throwing off the covers and scampering for the landing. The painted yellow moon follows him with its crushed witch’s face and its beady eyes.

‘I’ll put your dinner in your room,’ says mum coming up the stairs, but she can’t be here she’s dead. Mum places the tray down just inside the threshold. ‘Have you spilt something in here?’ she asks suspiciously but her tone is soft, like she’s feeling guilty. Maybe she’s just been away a long time and is feeling bad.

William splashes cold water in his face but sleep is still holding tight. Last night’s dreams still overlay the morning sky, dim behind the steamy kitchen windows. His coffee has no potency today. He kisses his girlfriend absently, ‘I’m all right’ he says, waving her away. I wonder what’s up with William, she thinks, it could be the flu, lots of people at the office have it.

Like a wraith William’s coat settles on his shoulders as he tiptoes down the path, encroaching lawn wet with last night’s rain. His car key misses the lock as he spots the low, yellow moon, slow to yield the sky to the bloated sun. He shivers. Roads sail by with the hum of the engine rocking William’s head softly as he takes the corners. As the car chugs into town the little buildings seem far away, their walls thin and brittle.

‘Morning William,’ says his boss, all bulk beneath straining white shirt and black moustache ready to pounce off his face. William nods back weakly. ‘You look like shit!’ his boss exclaims as he takes a closer look. William shakes his head. I’m fine, I’m fine. But suddenly he’s looking up at a circle of faces gathered round, empty eyes all looking down at him like polished windows.

‘You’re not fine, get home at once!’ The words are far away. ‘Better still I’ll take you myself, where’s your car?’

William’s head lolls to and fro as the car chugs out of the car park, the office block folding up behind them in the car’s exhaust, the buildings of the town blowing away in the rear view mirror like paper houses. The sun has beaten the moon and is busy bleaching out the sky.

‘That’s right son, you close your eyes’, says his boss. ‘Mum will be back soon and she’ll bring you something to eat in bed.’


There’s a terrible noise in his ears. William’s girlfriend reaches out of the blinding sunlight to turn off the alarm clock.

‘Its morning time, sweetie,’ she says fastening the curtains back. ‘You look a little pale today. Are you sure you want to go in?’

‘I’ll go in,’ William says dizzily, and more forcefully than he had intended, and throws the blanket to one side.

Through the window everything is sharp and crisp with strong lines defining light from dark, real from dream. He kisses his girlfriend and her lips feel soft and warm. She looks at him quizzically. Its solid, my life is solid, William thinks as he takes a deep breath. His heels clip something wrapped beneath the bed. In the gathering dust is an old painting with faces for houses, and sailing above them all a grinning yellow moon.

I must throw that out, he thinks retrieving a snatch of poetry written on the back.

Paper houses are the first to fall,

When flood is rising, deep and cold,

And the yellow moon looks on laughing,

‘Nothing is real, nothing at all!’


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. eva626
    May 25, 2011 @ 21:15:24

    the best part was how you couldnt leave out a poem! lol…i was expecting that too


  2. bekindrewrite
    May 27, 2011 @ 02:44:09

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.


  3. Trackback: Inspiration Monday XIII « BeKindRewrite
  4. MyWordsWhisper
    May 31, 2011 @ 04:37:58

    This is much more than an ‘attempt’. It is great! I went back and forth wondering a bit, until the alarm clock went off. Then I smiled. Keep them coming!


  5. blogsensebybarb
    May 31, 2011 @ 21:48:20

    BRILLIANT! Your use of language is incredible. Each word has a distinct purpose. It flows beautifully, like a poem! The images are masterfully drawn … lovely!


    • mbwilliams
      Jun 01, 2011 @ 19:42:34

      Many thanks. It has been a ongoing aim and challenge for me to adapt my writing, which is primarily poetry, to the longer formats. I am very happy you think I have been successful, feedback is my only guide here and its especially welcome when it is so positive.


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