This is the Platinum Winner of the Creative Future Literary award 2013 Flash Fiction
I saw the whole of the universe erupt when I was seven and three quarters. I still see the electric blues and vivid greens and some colours I’d never seen before. The shapes and the sounds and the smells have seared themselves into my memory, the stars and whirls and roars and the eye watering nostril scorching stench of it and the metal taste of fear.
We all saw it during the annual village party. This was held at Harold Carter’s because he had the longest garden which ran the entire length of the Memorial Hall. After dark we’d troop through his house and out the back. Leaving our parents by the house we’d file up the dim aisle of hunched brassicas and skeletal bean sticks to where Harold Carter stood, a solitary figure waiting to receive our offerings which we laid reverently on the flat lid of an old tin trunk. We’d retreat quickly to our parents to watch the shadowy figure of Harold bobbing and bowing over our gifts, arranging them in order in the trunk. This was tradition. We knew what to expect.
Whoosh! The first rocket jumped from the ground and powered its wiggling way up and up before stretching into an explosion of coloured stars that fell to earth lighting upturned faces and open mouths and Harold still fussing over the trunk. Then the unexpected happened. Suddenly the universe was created from that old tin box. The world was alight with shapes and sounds. We trembled at its power and in the lurid light we saw Harold sprawled in obeisance by the open lid.
I was seven and three quarters when I stared at the shrieking jaws of hell and saw the stretching hands of heaven and the spark that started the universe.