Michael, his son, sent ear-plugs, but Ephraim refused to wear them; they were made of synthetic material. Ephraim hated almost everything about the modern world – the bleating telephones, the growling engines, the sharp bite of exhaust; technologies of a brutal century.
Not that it wasn’t his century, just that he was living at the wrong end of it. When he was young cars had been rare in the village and there had been few telephones. The sky hadn’t been slashed with wires. Roads could be crossed without looking each way.
Ephraim wished to live in the world of his novels – composed with a fountain pen, of course – where clops on cobbles were the only intruding sounds, the sweet smell of horse-apples the only exhaust. He was not alone in his dreams; book sales allowed him to buy a remote cottage in the Welsh hills. There he could shut out the modern world, far from roads and without sight of telegraph-pole or pylon. Gas and plumbed water were his only concessions to the twentieth century. The peace of an earlier age should have settled on his life.
But the vapour trails remained.
He tried to keep his gaze below the horizon, ignoring the vandalised heavens, those infernal white lines, bisecting the sky.
Still he heard modernity, roaring in the air.
Michael’s offer of earplugs became increasingly moot as his father grew deafer with age.
If I could go blind, Ephraim wrote back, I might wheeze on to a hundred.
About the Author:
Matthew Roy Davey was the winner of The Observer short story competition 2003 and winner of the Dark Tales competition (August 2013), was long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction Award (Spring and Autumn 2017), Reflex Flash Fiction competition (Spring 2017) and Retreat West Quarterly Competition (Summer 2018). His story ‘Waving at Trains’ was translated into Mandarin and Slovenian and published in anthologies by Vintage and Cambridge University Press. Recently he has been published by Everyday Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Odd Magazine and Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine. He has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.