a flash-fiction piece
“It’s a bit big.”
“What is, woman?”, said Mr. Neanderthal regarding Mrs. Neanderthal with despair.
“The door”, she replied. Mr. Neanderthal turned to take in the enormity of the threshold to the world outside as if for the first time. It was a bit big, he thought.
“Give over, missus!”, he said at length, “This is what you’ve said you’ve always wanted.”
He turned imploringly towards the woman, gesturing with his arms outstretched.
“Look at all this space; you wanted new open plan living, a nice sea view, cold running water, five minutes walk to the gathering bushes… and now you’ve got it. So stop your whining.”
“Neighbourhood’s not all that though, is it?”
The wife’s mother had an annoying habit of saying the wrong thing at the worst times. She sat in a dark corner of the cave, sucking on a tusk. He felt the blood rise to his cheeks at the same time his heart seemed to fall into his aurochs-skin boots. It was something he might have considered ironic had he any notion of human physiology, but he hadn’t. He had only raw gut instinct and a few things his father taught him about flints and never to approach any wild animal downwind.
“What are you saying, mother?”, he said after a lengthy sigh.
She took the tusk from her mouth and spat something onto the floor before jabbing the tusk’s sharp end vaguely towards the scene outside.
“Place is full of them bloody Homo Sapiens, isn’t it? Coming over here, diluting the gene pool…”, she began. He’d heard it all before and he wasn’t having any more.
“Look, mum, there’s nothing wrong with them, they’re good people. I’ve hunted with them and they’re okay, very cooperative, very generous too, with their skills, give you their last…”
“Bah!”, the woman interrupted, “Well, the Great Elder has called us to have a vote and we say an end to it. We want tighter control on who comes in, and we don’t want them telling us what to do: the size and shape of the berries we should be picking and how many fish…”
“Don’t talk daft, woman!” Mr. Neanderthal’s dander was up. “You’ve been reading the wrong cave paintings again. You don’t want to believe what Boris drew on the side of the cliff – Many More Mammoths = Neanderthal Health Service. What is a Neanderthal Health Service anyway? Look, it’s our kids future; you’ll be dead soon, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Charming, I’m sure”, the old woman said quietly. He regretted mentioning the D word to her now. After a while, she spoke more,
“So you reckon our kids will have a future then?”, she said.
If he was honest, he’d say he wasn’t sure. The world seemed to be forever shrinking and the last ice age seemed generations ago. He’d like to trust there’d be Neanderthals while there were still flints to knap and elephants roaming the south downs, but who knows really?
“How about I fetch some skins and you and mum can make some curtains?”, he said, “Might give us a little privacy, at night, when we light a fire.”
He got no answer. The older woman was breaking the tusk open with a lump of granite while Mrs. Neanderthal busied herself with some ironing. He shrugged his shoulders and turning to the mouth of the cave, walked out into the evening light.
written for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto prompt – “Threshold”.
apologies to one of my favourite authors, William Golding, who wrote “The Inheritors”. This is more a reflection on Brexit, its probable causes and the aftermath, the sorriest mess I hope ever to see in this country of mine.