Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction Friday: delving into the past to fill out the rest of the year

rattle rattle rattle

we waited for a dark and stormy night to trespass

a little shed behind overgrown brush

passed every day on the way to work

turned out to be a tiny house

lightning served as our flashlight

kudzu blocked every window and door

we leaned onto the vines and broke through

inside the air was still

belying the wind whistling past

rattle rattle rattle

hush i whisper-screamed

it wasn’t me

rattle rattle rattle

i swear to zeus it wasn’t me

it had to be

frantic voice his

frantic voice mine

rattle rattle rattle

footsteps his

footsteps mine

centered in the room

waiting for lightning

listening

rattle rattle rattle

directly under us

curiosity stronger than fear

lightning startled

tension ignited

jumping back

a board flipped up

he’d found a hiding place

throwing the board aside

peering through the dark

lightning showed us bones

we gasped

we hopped up

bones

whose bones

why bones

why bones here

we have to tell the police

he snatched me back

we’ll have to confess to trespassing

yes we will

let’s go

wait

is there another way

rattle rattle rattle

no

i dragged him to the police station

we confessed

we professed

statements were made

suspicions aroused

dawn

weary of inquisition

rattle rattle rattle

you hear that sarge

i’m going to say no

come on did you hear that

i’m not going to say no

im not going to say yes

they took us in separate cars

to the tiny house reclaimed by nature

broken kudzu corroborated our story

the opening in the center of the room

looking down at the bones

we see now that they are child size

we are hustled out and returned to the station

where we await news and consequences

together in a small interrogation room

hours pass

lunch is brought

more hours pass

sarge returns

you guys can go

we go

unfulfilled

such a mystery

will they tell us

two days pass

sarge calls us

please come to the station

we come

sit in sarge’s dark crowded office

he shows us a photo of a blonde girl maybe 5

you found her bones

missing 5 years

a year missing for each one alive

rattle rattle rattle

i didn’t hear that

sarge says

we did

on the way home we talk to her

rattle rattle rattle

you’re welcome

Flash Fiction Friday: delving into the past to fill out the rest of the year

Questions Live On

A lithe, unassuming young girl walks down her street. She sees a dirty old man who grabs at her skirt. Bastard! They never grow out of it. She sees a man giving flowers to a woman on her doorstep. Sweet, but sure it’s only surface sugar. She sees a starving artist painting picnickers in the park. He doesn’t know from angst. She sees a boy smacking his dog for disobeying. He won’t grow out of that either. She sees a military-uniformed man on a park bench, much-loved letters scrunched in his hand, staring into space. She feels no sympathy.

They are all her father. His art, his military service, not even his love for her mother, compensates for making her feel dirty, and forcing her to live in the dark end of the tunnel, at 14. Her mother was lost to her, just a woman at the other end of that tunnel who regulated her day. Feeding and clothing must equal love, or is it merely obligation? Would love allow pain to continue, and knowledge of it to slip into fog? A drowning man can’t save a drowning man. A woman in pain cannot save a girl in pain.

Look to God then. Such a small prayer over and over for lightning to strike him down. God brought him back from war. War! So much more convenient than lightning. Keep your God! My mother will not become a person, for God’s sake.

The quiet young man of 15 writes poetry for her; she refuses flowers. She wonders if he lies. He says everyone does. He lies? She wonders if he ever could be guilty of her father’s sin. This question remains unasked. He touches her face. She flinches. He cries at night for her.

He writes:

Blue skies

Blue eyes

So big they take you in

The Blond flows long

Forget the pain

Sadness dies

For you so sweet

Dreams are real

Dreams are true

Everyone lies

Not you

For you believe

That Truth one day

Will make people

Bigger than they are

Ideals die hard

Love remains

Despite experience.

Her diary reads:

Cliché — understanding or manipulation? If I did not believe that one day my life will be elsewhere, courage would fail me to continue life. Yet, I’m allergic to pain — hah!

Even the screaming, the touching, and the nonsense cannot belie the fact that I was meant for greater things. If hardship builds character, then I am indeed of great character. I just hope it’s not a cartoon character, and God is not a comedian.

Tuesday, she meets a Jewish man, who explains to her that Jesus was just a man, a great prophet, maybe, but a simple mortal nonetheless. She meditates on this for two days before belief settles in. Thursday, she meets a philosopher, who expounds upon Plato’s shades of gray. Nothing is real. It is all perception. In one afternoon, conviction of Plato’s theory solidifies in her mind. Friday, she meets an old woman who outlines men’s evils. Her father’s sin makes the list. Such a sweet young thing should not have to live in a world of such men. The old woman’s revelation brings her no comfort.

Her father comes to her Saturday. Sunday, to spite God, she steps in front of a bus. Her parents weep, but the young man grieves dry-eyed, knowing the Truth.

Flash Fiction Friday: delving into the past to fill out the rest of the year

Golden Years

Suzanne and Harry had enjoyed their first day on safari. Their resort cabin opened to the outdoors on two sides. The guides assured them that they were safe from all creatures, but to remember to sleep under the mosquito netting. Harry brought drinks onto the deck, where they watched what wildlife they could see at dusk. It had been the best trip so far since their retirement four years ago. They had even met two couples from their state of Minnesota, Joanne and Don, and Mitzi and Harold (another Harry even!).

#

I may be hard pressed to leave Africa, Harry. How can I go back to reality? It’s gorgeous here.” Suzanne reached for his hand across the small table between them.

That it is, sweetheart. But go back we will, and then onto our next adventure. We’re too young to settle down just yet.” They laughed together, holding hands.

Susan’s smile drifted and she asked Harry, “Do you believe the guides? Do you think they’ve really had no unusual animal attacks here like at home? I can’t imagine it’s isolated. I wonder who’s not telling us what. Remember the Canadian moose herd overrunning Picksville? How frightening. I’m glad Jonathan moved away from Alaska last year.”

Well, I did read about black mambas attacking a professor in South Africa, but that was in a newspaper here. And it was a poisonous snake to begin with, so I don’t know how unusual it was. Yeah, I’m glad Jonathan moved. He wishes his friend Robert had moved. You know his family included him in the mass funeral—there were so many. Weirdest thing I ever heard.” He squeezed her hand and lifted it to his mouth for a kiss.

They shook off the memory, drank their wine, and toasted the tail end of the sunset. On the way to the bedroom, they embraced and smooched. When they settled into bed, Harry made sure the mosquito netting was encircling them completely—no sense getting malaria. They slept the sound sleep of the truly satisfied and wine satiated. They did not hear the driver ants entering their abode, not even when they started crawling up the bed by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the millions. They woke when the insects covered their bodies, but it was too late. Ants stung them endlessly. They passed out from shock and were invaded in every orifice.

Their new friends were next in line, being right next door. No warning was given throughout the resort, as the ants smothered screams with the multitude of their bodies. By the time they reached Harry and Suzanne’s other new friends, they had silently killed 37 couples on safari in their retiring years. Had they not continued on up to the main office, the hostess and guides would have had a lot of explaining to do to quite a few American families. As it was, the Kenyans would have to be identified by dental work as well. The ants ate everything they covered. Not a word made it to the newspapers.

###

Flash Fiction Friday: delving into the past to fill out the rest of the year

Come one Come All

Life as a clown ages you in ways regular life don’t. Grease paint removes your identity, humor replaces your personality, and the big shoes are just plain heavy. All towns blend together till I’m not sure where I am anymore. I just sleep in my rollicking cot as they drive us to the next little burg.

Oh, but when I’m in full costume, under those lights spotlighting me—Me! The forty-five minutes I’m entertaining hundreds of children, those laughing faces are pure gold, a far better payment than the mere pittance they call my wage.

Afterward, I’m reminded of my reason for being here, makeup covering the scars that changed my life, the fact that no woman would want a man who frightens children and could never give her any. The circus is my only opportunity to observe those beautiful treasures. I people watched to my heart’s content—townies and cirkys.

Jenina, the horse trainer’s assistant and wife, cried nightly as a routine. As I said, it’s a hard life, brings the worst out of some. Franco prided his horses. She came to me one night in an unusual state, meaning she was naked as a jaybird, holding a toga in her hand. She’d been duped. Franco had bragged all day of his prowess as a lover, that he would sure be galloping tonight. We all could clearly see that it was young Lorraine, the Acrobat, who was in heat. But poor, sweet Jenina was blinded by love.

I led her into my carriage and put the toga around her. We drank some hot tea together quietly. I ignored that fact that she let the toga fall. Her eyes were blank. When she finished the tea, she dropped her cup, leaned over and started rubbing makeup off my face. Now no-one has ever seen my face in all its scarred ugliness since I joined this traveling caravan. So I jumped up and backed away.

Just as startling, she spoke, “Let me see. I have shown you my real face.”

I sat down, legs twitching, fingers jumping. She used her toga and the rest of the tea to reveal me. I felt nakeder than her, as though she had peeled my skin back and was even now counting my thoughts. She ran a finger down the daddy scar, over my nose and across my left cheek.

When life happens to circus folk, we don’t fix it, we don’t talk about it. We deal with bumps in the road and keep moving on. So when she came to me two weeks later in her usual lovely birthday suit, toga in one hand and two eyeballs the same grey-blue as Lorraine, the Acrobat’s, in the other, I told her to put her little things in a jar I opened for her. I then said we might go swimming in that pond nearby to get that red grease paint off her. I asked if she was done painting and everything was put away safe. She nodded.

She came to me looking like a snake had bit her. She left me with the relief that I had sucked the poison out. No one blinked. Circus folk run away all the time. Acrobats come and go. We had no fear of punishment from regular society. One less circus performer was nothing to them.

Flash Fiction Friday original

Be Quiet…Don’t Breathe

Suhatra can move only her eyes. In her peripheral vision, she watches him flip switches like a mad scientist. Frankenstein images come to her, unbidden, terribly unwanted. The tingling begins in her fingers, moving up. This is so nerve-wracking, she’s afraid of farting right out loud. This thought causes her to make the tiniest little hiccough. He spins and leans into her face. “Be quiet. Don’t breathe. We’re very nearly ready to begin.”

He explains the anesthetic effect of the ionization process. The tingling continues, spreading throughout her body, then down to her toes. When it reaches her face, she absolutely, positively wants to scream, “Stop!” She lies completely still, keeping her eyes open, waiting for the cue to focus on that dot on the ceiling. This is supposed to hold her eyes in place long enough for the molecular rearranging to settle her new features without error.

The horror stories she’s heard. Wandering eyes causing a living nightmare of a cubist face make her want to focus now. Yet she’s been told that everything must be still at once, no breathing even. The eyes must focus on the dot at the proper time, as concentration may wane if held too long. She wants no cubist look, just to walk free again as an unrecognized individual. He whispers, so as not to disturb her stillness, “it’s time now to focus on the dot. In 7 seconds, your molecules will rearrange to create a new you. You won’t recognize yourself. Ready . . . 7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Voila! You are no longer gorgeous. You are normal. Normal, I say. Sit up, dear. Look. Look.”

Flashback Flash Fiction Friday (sending old stuff out to the universe, because I’m on vacation)

I Started A Joke

It was only a joke.

I know. You told me.

I didn’t know you had done anything.

I didn’t know if I had done anything.

I didn’t mean to hurt you.

And yet here you still are.

(Nurse) “I can actually see two people having a conversation.”

(Doctor) “Now that they’ve finally met, we can work on integration.”

Flashback Flash Fiction Friday (sending old stuff out to the universe, because I’m on vacation)

Drew’s Cousin

Drew stood on the beach, savoring the moment. He was still processing that he was doing exactly what he wanted, and at only 19, starting his chosen career. At 19. He sent his thanks out to the Universe as loud as he could.

“Thank you!” he screamed out across the ocean.

“Yo, bud. What’s up with that?”

His new best friend and right hand man seemed intrigued at his fervor.

“Counting my blessings, friend.”

“Cool.” They hung together side by side absorbing the moment.

“Who’s that chick? Is she with us? I thought I knew everyone.”

Drew responded by waving and yelling, “Hey, Linda!” To Garret, he explained, “It’s my cousin.”

As Linda came closer, Garrett stood taller, straightened his t-shirt, and pressed back his hair.

“No way, man. She’s off limits.”

“Why? She’s hot.”

“The less you say to her, the better. She won’t understand. Her brain takes things literally.”

Watching the staircase tilting in the wind, Linda whispered to herself, “I’m not going up there again. It’s too scary.”

“Why would you? It’s dangerous,” responded a voice from the crowd.

Drew had said every scene could be viewed from the top, yet Linda hesitated. She’d been torn between the years of her mother admonishing her to never touch the stairs and her favorite cousin including her in his movie production.

“No, I can’t do it today.” Tears raged behind her eyes as she raced home to release them into the comfort of her own pillow.

“Hey, brah, your aunt’s on the phone. Does she want you to come to the big house? Shall we hold our breath as we tremble in fear for you?”

“Nah, she’s not like that. Maybe we should quiet down a little, though. Can you pass that around?”

“Sure thing.”

His crew watched as Drew’s face transformed into a visage of ultimatum expectation. After replacing the phone, he scanned the group.

“Did anyone do something I need to know about?”

Quiet faces with wide eyes stared back at him with no sign of guilt.

“Tremble in fear, my friends.”

The longest mile, he thought, as he walked from the carriage house through the dusk to see his aunt. He entered and went toward the light to stand in the doorway of the front room.

“I trusted you.”

Her voice slashed his brain. With no clue to his transgression, Drew considered a general apology, but determined that it was too soon.

“I’m sorry.” Automatic response. He mentally crossed fingers that he didn’t just imply guilt.

“Sit.” He took a chair nearest the egress, eyeing his aunt carefully. Her eyes seemingly riveted to the fireplace, she stated in a soft, yet damning voice, “You broke that trust.”

“What can I do?”

“You’re ignorant of your egregious error.” He stared at the fire with her. Tears brimmed his eyes. “My daughter climbed one of those rickety staircasees every time your crew hit the beach to film.”

“Why?” Names raced through his mind. Who would tell her to do that?

“At your request, Drew, according to her.”

“What? I never . . . fuck . . .”

“Please, Drew. There will be no fucking in this conversation. We’re both educated adults with intelligent vocabularies.”

“Yes, Aunt _____.”

“Those staircases have remained on the beach for over five decades, the last two against my wishes.”

“I know, I know. They’re from that movie. They bring tourists.”

“Tourists.” She said it the way he’d said ‘fuck.’

Flashback Flash Fiction Friday (sending old stuff out to the universe, because I’m on vacation)

Black Mambas Attack

South Africa

Tuesday, December 14, two black mambas attacked Dr. P–, biology researcher with the University of S–, as he was observing the behavior of the reptiles. Black mambas are normally shy, and they will turn away from human contact. When they feel cornered, they can rear up four feet in an attempt to frighten an attacker.

In a rare event, two snakes worked in a tag team effort to bring down a human being. Dr. P–’s assistants, L– and J–, biology students at the university, watched the first snake bite him on the left thigh, then chase the researcher toward them, when they saw a second snake bite his other thigh. Dr. P– first told them to help him to the car, but at the second snake’s appearance, urged them to run.

The two assistants stated that they sat in the car, and every time they opened the door, one of the two snakes would race toward them. The most deadly snake in the world, the black mamba’s bite is 100% fatal without antivenin within minutes. Therefore, it was too late to help Dr. P– when they arrived with help an hour later.

Dr. P– was the procurer of reptile species for the university’s natural history museum. He also produced articles for their scientific journal on reptile behavior, including a recent article on antivenin procedures. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Flash Fiction Friday Guest Author I.V. Olokita

Israeli author I.V. Olokita has translated his flash fiction “Three Stories” so that I might share it on my blogblogblog. Enjoy! Look for an Artist Interview with this wonderful author soon!

Three Stories

I.V. Olokita

Three stories stand between you and the end of this day. Three more stories, and if everything goes according to plan, you’ll exit the elevator, enter your home within a step and a half, to your prince charming who is waiting for you at the same spot for the last eight years. You married him at the age of twenty and wanted to have a child right away, but this job, this important job, you got in a far-away city forced you to push back the decision to turn the passive into active by making the dream to have children come true. Meanwhile, he’s scratching his balls, and waits for you to come back from work every day, bearing baskets of money. You’re not angry with him, just disappointed in yourself that out of all the places in the world, you compromised for a house in the suburbs, and couldn’t convince him to move to the big city.

Stomping your feet, you think—Just three more stories and this awful day will be over. It’s not the work that’s killing you every day; it’s the drive, the long distances, and the long line for the elevator, especially during the summer. Sometimes you feel like you stew in your own juice. You know there are surveillance cameras everywhere, but it doesn’t bother you. If there’s an unpleasant smell, you’ll make sure that it’s not you, and even if there are zillions of other people at the elevator, you’ll still spray your cologne all over yourself peacefully. They can go fuck themselves; it’s definitely better than their stench.

You smile. Theoretically, the elevator’s screen shows that you’ve reached your story, and the door will open in a few seconds, you know that it’s the end now—you’ve finally arrived. So you smile. The door opens while exciting scripts are running through your mind of how you’ll enter your home, how he’ll run toward you and scoop your body into his arms. Maybe later he’ll take you to bed to make a dream of yours come true, or he’s prepared a romantic dinner to make it up to you for the awful day you had, although it wasn’t his fault. Your smile widens a little more, and your eyes are closing when the elevator door completes its divide for you. Taking one more step with your head bowed, you suddenly stop.

You’ve never loved any girl. In the locker rooms at school, you were always one of those who said “yuck,” but this woman that stands in front of you now—her smile does something completely different to you. For a moment, you can’t take your eyes off her, and you lower your gaze again. I wish I had such a lovely smile—you think to yourself, and fall in love with her even more. It all happens so quickly; she throws a shy “hello,” and enters the elevator in your place, and the door slides closed. You’re left there, standing alone, right at the entrance to your home, and you think if only you had the courage to shoot your hand into the closing gap between the doors and ride down the three stories with her.

But you don’t have that kind of courage. You just go home. He sits there in his briefs on the couch and doesn’t even mutter “hello” to you. The remainder of the shy smile you had is wiped off your face. You remember that during the last few years, there were countless smiles wiped off your pretty face. Once upon a time, it was different. Eight years ago you had an alluring smile, just like the woman from the elevator, and now all you have left are the scripts running through your mind during the three-story ride on the elevator. You think again about the smile of the woman and fall further in love with it, hoping you’ll meet her again tomorrow at one of the three stories on the elevator.

You don’t know, or maybe just don’t care, that this smile she wears, is the smile you lost a long time ago.

Flash Fiction Friday: Day Job

“Have you ever been in a lockdown?”

I raise my hand. It was a code yellow years ago at my first elementary school. A man with a gun was walking around the neighboring school. Police had it under control within the hour. No injuries. A domestic dispute. A disgruntled husband.

Evan from HR then explains, “When there’s a lockdown, you’ll hear lockdown, lockdown, lockdown,” as he counts on his fingers, “lockdown, lockdown, lockdown,” and once again, “lockdown, lockdown, lockdown. Nine times to make sure everyone hears and reacts, especially those in noisy environments, such as the cafeteria and the gym.”

No sound, not even one of the squeaky chairs, breaks through his pause for emphasis. We’re rapt.

He continues, “Lock the door. Now is the time to make you and the children. Invisible. Search the room for another egress, most likely windows, should the door be breached. If an active shooter is coming through your door, and you have no choice of flight, you must fight. Pick up a chair and”—here he positions himself to the side of the door, feigning holding a chair over his head—“come hard and heavy. He won’t be expecting it.”

My horror grows with each word. I am now planning to take a self-defense course. Most likely, though, I will take a lengthy nap when I return home, and try to pretend our world doesn’t now include active shooter training for substitute teachers.

And yet there’s more. Evan lets us know that the natural instinct to gather students together must be ignored should we find ourselves outside during a lockdown. “Run, scatter, make a wide range of moving targets. Run into the woods. Hide in the ditch. Hide under bushes. Hide behind houses. Run. Scatter. Hide.”

Then it gets even worse, and I want to walk out, but I know I would be the only one. I don’t need this job. What’s the likelihood, really?

Evan adamantly states, “Once you lock that door, do not touch it. You will hear things. You must remain quiet. Invisible. If you hear me tell you to open the door, don’t do it. If the principal asks you to open the door, don’t do it. If you hear a student screaming to be let in, don’t touch that door. You don’t know who might be behind that employee or student. If you touch that door, you’ve compromised yourself and all the students in that room.”

So I’m really looking forward to working with children again…with just a little pinging in my brain of such current events and unlikelihoods happening. I won’t even allow myself to think about narcan, which I consider the holy grail of fuckening.