It’s a thing in cycling, apparently, an incline you don’t recognise as one because it’s not that steep so you carry on pedalling, not understanding why you’re getting more and more exhausted when it’s not like it’s hard but your legs are tired and your back hurts and everything is heavier and slower than it ought to be, and this is my life now, why am I not coping when lots of people have it worse, I should be used to it by now but I go on pushing myself up this false flat, the one that’s been stretching on for two years now, the new normal, the normal we’re never getting back to, the normal we’ve been sold, the normal we’ve been sacrificed for, and it could be so much worse it’s worse for lots of people but still the exhaustion never ends, there’s no end to this incline no crest to the invisible hill where I could stop and breathe and let myself coast down, let the road carry me – where?
Caroline Gonda has words at Reflex, Lunate, Ellipsis Zine, Bluesdoodles, Pastel Pastoral, Second Chance Lit, Tipping The Scales, Bluesdoodles, the Oxford Live Writing Project, and in Legerdemain: The National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2021. She teaches and writes on literature, gender and sexuality, especially lesbian narrative and queer reception. Like most of her flash stories, “False Flat” was originally written for the Writers’ HQ Flash Face Off community. Twitter: @liederfollower.