KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Micro-Fiction: 331 words [R]

Uncle Henri

by Sylvia Petter

Everyone in the village was talking about the man who’d asked the little girl to accompany him to the park. Someone had heard Henri say: “Come with me.” And they’d seen the little girl hesitate and then put her hand in his. They’d watched him go down the street and round the corner and when he was out of sight, they still saw him, hand in hand with the little blonde girl. They saw him lead her over behind the garden house in the far corner of the park and they saw him bend down, stroke her hair, unbutton her coat, untie her shoelaces. And it all became too much. So they called the police.

Henri yelled and the little girl screamed. Someone took her aside as they dragged him away. That was the last she saw of him. When he got out a few months later, he shot himself.

The little girl is grown up now. She sits and stares at old photos of her uncle Henri. She still blames herself for that day in the park. That blame has followed all her growing up. She couldn’t understand then, not even now, what all the fuss was about. Shortly after they took Henri away, she’d noticed how her godfather, even her own father, wouldn’t pick her up or hug her when other people were around. It was as if that sort of thing was suddenly forbidden, forever. She wanted hugs from those she loved, wanted the world to see.

Today she finds it hard to make contact. She fears that once she makes it, they’ll take it away, like they took away her Uncle Henri. They’d skirted the garden house, he’d opened the top button of her coat to give her more room to move, he’d fastened her laces, yelled here we go, he’d pushed her so high on her favourite swing that she’d screamed with delight. It had been the last happy day of her life.

— Previously published by National Flash Fiction Day in 2014; republished here by author’s permission

Sylvia Petter
Issue 3, Spring 2015

Now based in Vienna, Austria, Australian author Sylvia Petter holds a PhD in Creative Writing. Her latest book of short fictions, Geflimmer der Vergangenheit (Riva Verlag, Germany, 2014), includes 21 stories drawn from her collections, The Past Present, Back Burning, and Mercury Blobs, and translated into German by Eberhard Hain.

“Uncle Henri” is among the flash stories which appear in Mercury Blobs (Raging Aardvark Publishing, 2013). As Robert Olen Butler says, these stories “are sometimes very funny and sometimes very moving, and often they are both at once....”

Dr. Petter’s collection of 17 erotic tales, Consuming the Muse, was published in 2013 by Raging Aardvark under the pen name of AstridL.

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