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If this were Tracy Island

I’d use a soda siphon at cocktail hour, and you’d only know I’m speaking when my chin quivers. And it wouldn’t feel like I was playing a solo eternal game of, ‘would I rather’. I wouldn’t need to pass the days until I see you again—until I lift you sleepy from our Thunderbirds-marathon—asking myself, would I rather a bullet in the back escaping? Or a surprise jab in the stomach with a sharpened biro?

And (hypothetically speaking), once I’d scaled the wall of this place that isn’t Tracy Island, ripping my stomach on the barb, I wouldn’t need to ask, would I rather a splashy-front-crawl for speed? Or slower but stealth underwater swimming?

And there’d be no implications to deciding between the images in my mind—a bright green rifle laser beam on a bullseye target on my T1 vertebrae? Or a fairground-style watermelon-head explosion when I come up for air.

Because if this were Tracy Island, and I was swimming away from it, I’d be in scuba gear, I’d be on a mission to save the world from a threat you and everyone couldn’t know about, and an international rescue team would despatch a mini-sub to rescue me if anything got dicey, and there’d be an encouraging orchestral arrangement of violins, trombones and kettle drums, and you’d be on the edge of your seat, you’d know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m a good guy, because I look nothing like that poorly-shaven puppet-baddie in the wanted poster.

If this were Tracy Island, there wouldn’t be a shitter by my rock-hard bed. I wouldn’t inhale my cell mate’s sweat and farts and breath. And through these bars, I wouldn’t see a footbridge to a train station where a glimmering ocean should be, and there wouldn’t be a pending application for a suspended sentence.

There’d be personal inter-call wrist communicators, so I wouldn’t miss your teen voice breaking, and you’d tell me about the zoo you’re in, and I’d say, being a man’s a 24-hour game when nobody’s there to protect you.

If this were Tracy Island, there would always have been sunshine and bird song, always brothers who had my back, palm trees, and a breeze. I’d have had a proud, proud father. And though my lips wouldn’t move when I say, I love you Son, the strings that controlled me all my life would be visible.

Marissa Hoffmann’s stories have won the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the Bath Short Story Award and have been selected as a finalist in CRAFT flash competition and long listed for the Mogford Short Story Prize. She has a story on the Wigleaf top 50 long list and the BIFFY 50 list and has had tiny tales nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions and Best Micro Fiction. Read more at www.marissahoffmann.com or @hoffmannwriter

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