This flash fiction came out of a writing exercise where one of the key characters had to be unable to speak. I’ve left it in its raw form – I’m trying to be brave about sharing first drafts!

Richard heard the click-clack of Dr Johnson coming up the corridor. He buoyed at the thought of seeing her. Her visits were effervescent moments in his otherwise boring, beige days.

With a quick rap on his door, she strode into his room and greeted him as she always did.

‘A very good morning to you, Richard.’ The words burst out of her like little droplets of sunshine. If only he could capture them and stash them away so he could feast on them during the long, lonely nights.

‘I see you’ve had a bit of a rough night,’ she continued, looking expectantly at him; waiting for his sign. A sign they’d agreed on long ago.

He focused now, wanting to please her; wanting her to know that he understood. He willed all the energy in his body to meet the challenge. In that moment, it was the only thing he needed from his body; one tiny movement. One tiny, inconsequential movement that, if achieved, would have the most consequential outcomes.

‘Okay, then,’ she said, interrupting his thoughts. ‘I think the physio will be in this afternoon. I’ll be back at my usual time tomorrow. Don’t stand me up, will you Richard?’ She smiled at him but he saw a veil of pity in her expression.

He watched her disappear into the corridor. He had failed, again.

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