Prompt: a moustached giraffe, ice skates, the Isle of Man.
(Disclaimer: This is my first foray back into flash fiction since exams, essays, and generally trying not to fail my degree took over my life. Be gentle with me!)
‘Welcome to the beautiful Isle of Man,’ the sign proclaims in peeling yellow letters, the first thing I see as I step off the ferry. I blink at it, bemused. What am I doing here? And is that…a giraffe?
I close my eyes briefly, trying to clear my foggy head, but when I open them it is all still there: the sign, the fairground in the distance, the giraffe. Still bemused, I make my way over to it, only to nearly fall over in shock when it greets me with a cheery “Good day, madam!”
I am speechless, taking in the sight of this talking giraffe, which upon closer inspection is wearing a suit, a top hat, and a monocle, and sporting a rather fetching handlebar moustache. The mouth underneath that moustache is looking decidedly irritated actually, and soon the giraffe speaks again.
“Good day, madam!” He repeats, the cheer sounding a little more forced. “My name is Gareth, and I will be your tour guide for the duration of your stay on the beautiful Isle of Man!”
I can’t help it. As soon as I open my mouth, a snort of laughter escapes.”Gareth?” I splutter incredulously.
Gareth sighs. “I didn’t choose it, you understand? If I had, I would have been named something much more respectable, like Horace. But no, giraffes have to have names which begin with the letter ‘g’ and so Gareth I became.”
I’m dying to point out that Horace is no better a name than Gareth, but I keep quiet, figuring that I’ve caused enough offence for one day. Besides, Gareth is already talking again, outlining the day’s itinerary. It sounds jam-packed. And more than a little crazy.
“And then in the evening…” he’s saying now. “…we can go ice-skating! Do you like ice-skating? I love it!”
I’m just trying to envisage what an ice-skating giraffe would look like when another strange thing happens (as if I hadn’t had enough of those already today). It’s as if all of the colour begins to drain from the world, and in the distance a voice is calling my name.
“Jenny!” It repeats insistently. “Jenny, can you open your eyes for me?”
Baffled at this, for I’m sure that my eyes are already open, I am nonetheless able to obey, and see a figure standing over me, dressed in what looks like a pair of baggy green pyjamas.
“I’m Dr. Phillips.” She says soothingly. “I know that you might be a little groggy from the anaesthesia, but I want you to know that the operation was a complete success.”
“Where’s Gareth?” I croak out, my hold on reality still tenuous at best.
“Gareth?” The doctor’s brow creases in confusion and I realise my mistake. “There isn’t a Gareth here. I can call him for you if you like? Or Susan’s outside, I can get her to come in?”
I shake my head weakly, allowing sleep to pull me back under. If I’m lucky, I might be back on the Isle of Man in time for the ice-skating.