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People Present on Carnaby Street on a Saturday Afternoon in Early May

Four murderers, one of them with horn-rimmed glasses. A steady flow of pushchair mothers who divert to left or right around the woman handing out homemade fliers. Boys who fold the proffered fliers into paper aeroplanes – one of which the flier lady’s husband catches and crushes. Fancy dress girls off to McDonald’s for twelfth birthday celebrations, dragging despondent fathers in their wake. The dad who knows twelve is nothing compared to thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. Sixteen Pixie Lott lookalikes spaced out through the afternoon, each drawing the eye of the other pedestrians because they could conceivably be someone who the fancy dress girls should be chasing for an autograph. An off-duty policewoman without the necessary energy to be civil to the flier lady who has three years’ practice scanning faces and recognises her from the missing person case long since put on ice. The local journalist who wrote an article on the case in which he described the girl – blonde hair, green eyes, like that pop star – and cast aspersions about smilies and stars. A psychic with a message from the dead, which the flier lady won’t hear because her Lucy is still out there somewhere, and someone must have seen her. A mime sprayed in white, the colour of acid – other times, he does pizza deliveries, pulling pints, rushed transactions behind Bonmarché. The reverend who used to visit the flier lady’s house on Tuesday mornings to offer spiritual guidance and cadge a custard cream. A former neighbour who nods at the flier lady then at her husband sitting nearby polishing his horn-rimmed glasses. A homeless man staring at the pedestrians’ scuffed trainers and kitten heels, remembering the mismatched Converse of a blonde-haired busker and how she always gifted him a fiver from her takings. A woman with hoop earrings not called Lucy who twists away from the flier lady’s urgent grasp. An artist painting a watercolour sketch of the scene in which the only people present are a man selling rainbows and a girl with a tangerine guitar.

*Originally published online and in print by Reflex Fiction*

Matt Kendrick is a writer, editor, and teacher based in the East Midlands, UK. His work has been featured in various journals and anthologies, including Cheap Pop, CRAFT Literary, Best Microfiction, and Best Small Fictions. Website: | BlueSky: | Twitter: @MkenWrites

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