Flamingos in Plastic Heels

Sarah Leavesley

Since having children, I often feel like my brain has turned into a Jabberwocky nonsense and déjâ-vu machine. But there’s no way I can ever have seen a pink flamingo crossing the road before. I mean, what the… I bleep the swear word out of my thoughts, as Tilly tugs my hand.

“Come on, Mummy, we’re going to be late again!” Tilly skips on ahead, then turns to look back, her too-big school jumper drifting off her left shoulder.

I sigh. What I wouldn’t give not to rely on cheap chain stores and others’ cast-offs! Still, second-hands are environmentally friendly, while my kids are bright, respectful and reasonably tidy. That’s what counts, right?

“The others will be playing without me,” Oscar chimes. “They’ll have gone in by the time we get there!”

That’s when it comes to me, the déjâ-vu of my flamingo – the six mothers that gather at the school gate every morning, all feathers and flounce with their long-legged elegance, plastic heels and expensive Radley handbags. Every morning, I shuffle around their flamboyance, flustered by the way they eye up the other mums from the looped-necked height of their immaculate grooming.

But not this morning. I let determination power me as I glide towards them. They’ve kissed their beautiful angels goodbye and are preening their perfection.

“Oh, look,” I say, bending down suddenly while they’re busy beaking away to each other. “I think you dropped this Primark receipt.”

I hand the crumpled scrap of paper to the snootiest, then turn away to watch Tilly and Oscar half-skip, half-fly, to their classroom like chirpy robins. For the first time that week, I smile a smile that doesn’t feel tired.

Sarah Leavesley is a fiction writer, poet, journalist and photographer, with flash published by journals including Fictive DreamEllipsisJellyfish ReviewLitroSpelkReflex FictionFlash Frontier and Bending Genres. She also runs V. Press poetry and flash fiction imprint. See more on her wesbite.