Award-winning fiction writer and critic Nigel Jarrett offers the next contribution to Flash Fiction Month with Ziggurat.
Every day the woman opposite puts something different in her window. Last Monday it was a pair of cheap African statuettes – well, they resembled the sort of ebony things you can buy at the market for a few quid. They were replaced by a trio of red-wax candles, which she lit when it got dark. In the past month we’ve had a large Toby jug, a Kermit glove puppet in a bowl, various potted plants and what looked like a sleeping cat that was obviously a simulacrum from the way she lifted its rigor mortis form. It’s said she rotates her displays, but you have to wait eight months before something, say, a 1970s Astro lamp or a figurine shepherd and his love, comes round again.
She makes the changes before bedtime. Visible for a few seconds with the replacement, she then recedes with that day’s offering. The TV is zapped off from the wings as if there’s been a power cut. No-one round here is exactly sociable, so when they call her eccentric it sounds like an award of merit. What she does is odd. But she smiles at you and says hello and in people like that, eccentricity becomes interesting. It’s as if she’s signalling to us.
She placed a strange object two evenings ago. Standing back with a pair of rattlebag binoculars, you could see it was a KardoFix model of Bruegel’s The Tower of Babel. The series had been advertised in the papers (Bumper tube of adhesive FREE with No. 1: St. Paul’s Cathedral!). She probably made it herself. But the only thing is, it was there again today. Perhaps, as night falls and the power fails to thud back, someone will make a move.
Ziggurat by Nigel Jarrett is part of a Wales Arts Review series publishing original flash fiction pieces by some of Wales’ top authors in a celebration of the unique literary genre and National Flash Fiction Day.