by Frances Gapper

Plates, cups and mugs. Here I am, jumping over a golden full moon in a navy sky. Frolicky joy, same on teapot. And here’s a sunny portrait of me with crumpled horn, in another nursery rhyme. Grass vibrant green, sky-blue sky, fluffy white clouds. Giftwrapped, please. Mum will love it, she collects farmyard animals. Cows are your motif, aren’t they? Yes, replies the headscarfed and beaming artist, a form of OCD haha. Plus (she doesn’t add) cows fly off the shelves. We’re jolly, which means moolah.

The bargain box gets plenty of attention. Me with suckling calf: what a pity, it’s cracked down the middle. Moon curdled in darkness. Sun a broken egg, leaking its yolk. A fault in the grazing, sorry glazing. That moment when you think oh. Something wrong here. Don’t like the look of. Try to turn and go back down ramp, unfortunately too late. Metal gates clang.

Behind the main shop is a small and chilly annex, lit by a single buzzing bulb. It’s a mess, warns the artist. Need to get it sorted. Me again, narrowly prisoned in foul stall. At abattoir, being electrocuted. On butcher’s hook and shiny trays. Only people with a grim sense of humour buy these quirky originals. The artist was depressed at time of creation. But personally, I think it’s some of her best work.

In the Wild Wood, Frances Gapper’s third story collection, was published in 2017 by Cultured Llama. Her flashes have appeared in e.g. The Citron Review, New Flash Fiction Review, The Cafe Irreal, Spelk, Meniscus, Ellipsis, Wigleaf and Litro. Twitter @biddablesheep.