Thursday 12 May 2022

Covid Pickings


Flash Fiction is usually confined to under 500 words. I'm fond of the genre because I don't have the energy, usually, for longer narratives. Here's one, literally picked up in the park...

She takes it personally. The fact that Rory’s mother goes to all the trouble of sticking that white label, with Rory’s name etched in upper case in indelible ink, on Rory’s water bottle for the match, in the event of Rory’s pre- or post-match thirst, and that not only does Rory chuck the labelled bottle on the pitch, post-match, but doesn't even drink the water. And that Niamh or Jack or Susie shed their jackets like scales around the park every weekend. That one of them manages to forget one of his/her shoes. That another one brings a can of dog food for Rover and, once emptied, tosses it under the park bench. That their orange peelings dot the grass like miniature aliens. Don’t they know how long it takes orange skin to decompose? And that paper cups and pizza boxes clog up public bins and cause litter jam. And there’s Rover’s poo bags, sometimes the poo, let’s not even go there! And she piles the football match cones that they forget to return outside the club house for next weekend’s match


Some of the water bottles, unlike Rory’s, are keep cups or whatever they call them, the term keeps changing, but metal and expensive and meant to be reused and not relegated to land fill. Not to mention the items shed by their older siblings- the empty beer cans, bottles and cigarette packs, student IDs, condoms and clothes, let’s not go there either... 

From time to time and not often enough she finds money. She tried a Sum of Money Found notice in the corner shop once, but they all claimed it. So if it’s small change she lights candles in the church to Oscar Romero, newly canonised champion of the poor and dispossessed, and if a note, she uses it to buy more plastic bags.


They asked her once if she ever found anything interesting. She immediately thought of the turquoise painted stone. It was a movement at the time- people all over the country painting stones and hiding them for anybody to find, a way of connecting when touch was considered to be a National Health Hazard.

East Coast Rocks. Keep me or rehide. Please post a pic.

She kept it and posted and reached out and touched Mary in Arklow.



And then there’s the people who do stop, despite government guidelines, to say, “Thanks Missus, you’re doin’ a great job!”  Or give her the thumbs up from a distance of two metres.


And as she picks up after them she recalls how she used to roam through fields at the back of Union Place or Quarry Lane, playing some game whose rules she didn’t understand, chased by boys who never intended to catch, dropping memories like stones as she ran, and now sixty years on re-finding them as she makes her way back home.


Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved.


  1. Rory will have some explaining to do if his mother ever reads this!

  2. There's a good chance that she won't!