We are delighted to welcome Carolyn E. Purcell, and share her story, a piece of flash fiction:

The East End Boy by Carolyn E. Purcell ©

He resembled a young Michael Caine. His tough coolness was honed on East End streets where his leather jackets and Doc Martens boots fitted in. He knew all the backstreets, the shortcuts and the street venders east of the ancient walls of the City of London. His older brother had been killed in a joy-riding incident when they were younger, leaving him an only child. His distraught mother sought solace and found religion. His father buried himself in the Racing Post.

Despite his muddled and isolated teenage years, he was the first in his family to go to university, carrying that burden with fascinating nonchalance. He spent his time in the snooker hall or on the football pitch. He found the academic dedication of his fellow students mildly amusing. In her limited time away from the university library, she watched him. Friends pointed him out to her but she feigned a nonchalance she didn’t feel. Their paths finally collided on

St Valentine’s Day at one of the many campus events that night.

A few months later, he took her home to meet his fragmented family.  ‘If anything kicks off on the streets, run fast.’ he said. He raised an eyebrow at her metal tipped stilettos. ‘Maybe you’d better just stand behind me.’

East End boy meets west coast girl was heady and volatile. He taught her how to play snooker and she introduced him to good wine and fine restaurants. They ran headstrong into a student marriage, joking at the wedding that they had nothing better to do that day. She felt envious as he breezed through his final exams, having prepared for just two weeks. His results were astonishing. He was heading for the financial centre of the city, breaking into the arena where your school tie mattered. She unexpectedly landed a job at a leading fashion magazine.

Two years later, she walked out with a suitcase, a carrier bag and a tortured soul. They met in a wine bar in Soho to sign papers for the sale of their city flat. He was heading for the sophistication of Wall Street. He’d be watching the sun rise over a different city of glass. She felt sick with the loss of their dreams.

Carolyn E. Purcell © 2017

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