Favouritism – New Flash Fiction by Adam Z. Robinson

Joint Winner of the Letter Review Prize for Flash Fiction

Kenneth would not look back into the room, only out of the window at his dying garden. She had come a long way. Two buses, a train, another bus. His three sons, all grown, had been trying to encourage him to turn his head ever since she arrived.

‘Just say hello, Dad,’ said Conor, the youngest. ‘That’s all she’s asking.’

Alun, the middle son, was seated at the upright piano, unplayed for decades.

‘You don’t need to forgive her,’ he said. His brothers fidgeted uncomfortably. ‘I mean, there’s nothing to forgive,’ he added quickly, chastened by the scrunch of their closed eyelids.

As boys, Kenneth told his sons that she had taken the key to the piano’s lid when she went. But sometimes Eamon, the eldest, heard light, sad, high music as it tinkled up the stairs in the middle of the night, like a crystal-glass drunk stumbling to bed.

‘Never mind, boys,’ she said, finally. 

Kenneth sensed her craning her neck to steal a look at the stone slab that was the side of his face. He shifted to his right, feeling the pull of the drip as it twanged a vein in the back of his hand.

‘She just wants to say goodbye, Dad,’ said Eamon.

‘Oh,’ Kenneth muttered to the window. ‘She does, this time, does she?’ He heard her stand up behind him. 

‘This, what you’re doing to me now,’ she said. ‘Is so much worse than anything I ever did to you. But, anyway…’ Her sons helped her on with her coat, passed her her handbag.

Kenneth clicked the button in his palm, which brought instant relief and the beginnings of a smile to the corners of his mouth. He wished he could stop doing this. But it made him feel so much better.

Adam Z. Robinson is a writer and theatre-maker based in the UK. His most recent play ‘Belle & Mary’ was commissioned by The Dukes, Lancaster. It premiered in November 2021 and will tour in 2024. His play ‘Upon the Stair’ (“Everyone needs to see this show” – The Reviews Hub) premiered in January 2020 and went on to a week-long run at Harrogate Theatre. In 2020, Adam co-wrote ‘Smile Club’ (✭✭✭✭ The Guardian) with Andrea Heaton, which premiered at Leeds Playhouse before touring. The play was adapted into a six-part audio drama in 2022, now available on all podcasting apps. His play ‘The Book of Darkness & Light’ (“Astoundingly unsettling… blew us away.” – Great British Ghosts) toured from 2016-18 and has subsequently been adapted and performed by theatre companies in Canada and Australia. His play ‘Shivers’ (“Kept me enthralled from the very beginning – British Theatre Guide) toured 2018-19 to more than 30 theatres. Other writing includes: ‘Conscientious’ (national tour 2014) and ‘Seaside Terror’ (national tours 2017-20) with OddDoll Theatre. Adam is the founding member of The Book of Darkness & Light theatre company: https://adamzrobinson.com/

Original Artwork Supplied by Art Director Kita Das