Her suggestion this. It’s a first date so he lets it go. There’s something about the concrete swoops at the entrance but it’s not until the turnstile welcomes them in two clunking gulps that he remembers. How could he have not? A cage door swung open in invitation. Harris’ grin as he pocketed the key. The backs of the rest, shambling up the hill to see the star attraction, a whale named ‘Cuddles’. His shouts drowned by barks, bleats and growls. A September night that drew in quick. A quiet boy. Unmissed by school friends, teachers, even his father – working late as usual. Finally forcing the lock to freedom. And home to only a glance from the study.

But today the sun is shining. All is well. He pushes back on the metal bar but it holds fast. There is nothing to do but unfold the ticket in his fist and walk towards her smile.


First published in Firefly Magazine Issue 1