This Be the Curse

John Brantingham
The Journal of Radical Wonder
2 min readJul 2, 2022


Flash Fiction by Michael Loveday

Photograph by Jane Edberg, copyright 2022, all rights reserved.


What do I do when my father tells me to buy a can of striped paint? I set out keenly, of course; this is my first day, my first job, in a summer of quests and adventures. Do what the boss says. If factory workers don’t follow instructions, all manner of cogs could fall off the grand machine.

The store owner sees me coming from ten miles off. “Striped paint? We sold the last tin of green and yellow at eleven. Popular stuff. Run along to Carson & Co., they may have some.”

Same tale from Carson & Co. Return to the factory, downcast. My father tuts.


What do I do when he’s ravenous for a ham salad doughnut? I go eagerly, of course; I’m a good boy, he’s famished, I comply with my father’s request. If children don’t learn to do what fathers say, all manner of doors shall be closed.

Café after café is out of stock. A sudden run on ham salad doughnuts today. They do taste so, so good. Try Bryce’s place.

Try Perry’s. Try Campbell’s. Return to the factory, empty hands, solemn heart. My father shakes his head, slowly.


What do I do when he needs a long weight, the heaviest kind? I go earnestly, of course; third errand in a week and I’ve fluffed the first two. If paupers won’t learn to dig up the treasure, all manner of riches will remain hoarded and obscure.

I reach the hardware shop, certain of victory. The cashier heads off out back. I wait.

And wait. And wait.

Michael Loveday writes fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. His hybrid novella Three Men on the Edge (V. Press, 2018) was shortlisted for the 2019 Saboteur Award for Best Novella. In 2018 he began publishing a series of articles about the history and form of the novella-in-flash at SmokeLong Quarterly, and in Spring 2022 his craft guide Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript was published by Ad Hoc Fiction. He coaches artists, writers, and creative freelancers one-to-one, and edits novella-in-flash manuscripts through his mentoring programme at

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John Brantingham
The Journal of Radical Wonder

Former Poet Laureate of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: Education. Nature. Art. Marriage. Nomading. Check out my latest books at