Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Lucy Fer

Lucy scrolls through Facebook, trying to turn off her mind’s babble in an attempt to repress the words of those little imps. Sticks and stones indeed break bones, but words also do hurt. Natural disasters normally make her heart race. Troll commentary usually urges her to literally LOL. Grammar nazis generally get her goat going. Today, not even her secret pleasure of cat videos – those little beany toes! – suppresses the demonic taunting.

She clicks on a video of a blonde woman with an accent, the one she devilishly twisted for those happy-go-luckies “down under,” the ingrates, no appreciation at all her work. Down Under! Down Under! Just like her, but they refuse to get it. They’re too freaking happy to be the scariest country on earth, with the most fearsome animals. Still, the connection eludes them. Scariest? Fearsome? Hello!

Anyway, this blondie started The Body Movement, griping about hating her body. Betcha no one ever calls her a man. Wait! Look at these other women. They have big chunky bodies like Lucy. But none of them have her black hair, red skin. No one says they have goat’s hooves. None of them have claws for fingernails. No one calls them “Master.” No one calls them “Lucifer.”

She’s co-hosting her second religion. She’s changed her locale, her whole décor, from floral greenery to fiery red-hot mama, and they continue to mangle her name and treat her as a male deity. No matter how many thousands of years, she will never be Blondie.

“Whatcha doin’, Lucifer, watching cat videos again?” The little demon snickers.

“It’s Lucy Fer! I’m a girl!” She roars to the heavens. Yes, she knows her hears her. She knows he’s laughing. He’s been laughing at her since he called himself Zeus and lived on a stupid mountain. He’s been laughing ever since he gave her goat’s feet. He thought it oh so clever to match her skin to her latest decor. Always, the male has the power. Older brothers make for cruel deities.

https://theprose.com/post/146875

They can’t hurt us, right?

They’re the shadows that you see out of the corner of your eye, the shadows you ignore, the shadows you call “floaters” when you hit middle age. It’s true they float, as they haven’t a corporeal body to anchor them. They float. They glide. They whoosh overhead when you look down. They slink close and tickle the hairs on the back of your neck. Many people learn to become blind to them, just as we become blind to seeing our nose so that it’s not a constant distraction. After all, they can’t hurt us.
 
Right?
 
“I don’t know how I fell down the stairs. It seemed to just happen. I would blame the cat, but I don’t have a cat.”
 
“I swear I heard a buzzing in the car. You know I’m allergic to bees. I told the officer I’m allergic to bees.”
 
“Her last words were, ‘Oh my god, a spider just crawled down the back of my shirt.'”
 
Right?

Puppy Trouble

“What time is it?” I asked my husband as I stared at the ceiling in the darkness toward the barking that woke me.

Again.

“4:47,” he responded in a growl.

“Do you know who lives upstairs?”

“No. What should we do?”

I sighed.

“I don’t know.” Thoughts of vicious reactions to requests to quiet the dog ran through my head, most of them mistreatment of the dog, which is what would keep me quietly seething.

We got up and had breakfast. Then I snored on the couch while he got dressed for work. I heard him on his computer after and only got up to kiss him goodbye. The dog had quit barking ten minutes after we decided to get up and start our day early.

I went to the endodontist for my root canal, ate lunch (soup) with the hubby, and bought groceries. We were off schedule on grocery shopping since arriving five hours late on the return train the previous evening from our family visit five states away. The delay and the dog dragged us both down into fatigue. Fortunately, I could nap after shopping.

Only the dog whined intermittently throughout the afternoon.

Just enough to wake me.

Our friend, and neighbor, texted that she would be down at 6 to return our key (for feeding the cats in our absence). It was not her who knocked on our door at 6, but our upstairs neighbor with her puppy, a black Lab with white toes, exuding excessive cuteness.

“Hi. My name is Karen, and this is Trouble. We changed it from Emily. We just got her a week ago and I want to apologize for her barking. She’s in training. We got the clicker and everything. She barks at night in her crate, but the vet said to let her bark, so she knows we won’t come just because she barks.”

“She’s a baby. She’s so cute,” I tell this woman who is treating her dog like an object. I offer to pet sit gratis while she works, but she informs me that they’ve already hired a dog walker.

She repeats her apology. I let her know we weren’t home the week before, which doesn’t seem to lessen her anxiety. I repeat my offer and she politely agrees to a future playdate that will never happen.

When my friend comes down the hall, I tell Karen, “I hope she earns her name back soon. She’s just a baby,” thankful for the reprieve before I say something too judgy to this woman who seemingly fails to understand that she has a baby in her home. My husband continues to speak with her as I invite my friend into our home.

Trouble.

With a capital T.

Her name should be

Emily.

For she is only

A baby.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“You’re so darn cute! How do you stand yourself?” I poked the cutest little girl in the nose and she giggled.

“I don’t know, Aunt Susie.”

It was getting late and I still had laundry to fold. Since the complex pool was next to the laundry room, I’d thought it convenient to wash clothes while we swam with our nieces. It was taking a bit longer than I’d planned, what with quality time with family delaying me.

Dear hubby was entertaining the older, challenging niece. So far, so good. I dragged little butt over to him and she climbed onto his shoulders. Her trust was well placed.

“I have to go fold the last load. I’ll try to be quick.”

“No worries,” he said, “We probably leave after this. It’s getting chilly.”

Little girl hollered from his back, “I’m not cold, Uncle Jack!” She was already starting to shiver. Drat! My night would end with clean clothes, in any case.

Halfway through the load, they tumbled inside, the little monkey shivering and blue-lipped, still protesting her departure from liquid fun.

Pulling clothes out of the dryer, I saw in my peripheral vision a little hand come up and then I heard, “What’s that?”

Europeans are more comfortable with their bodies than Americans, in general. At public swimming pools, I’d seen men wearing speedos that hid under their bellies. At least, I assumed they had on swimwear. My husband would tease that such a man hadn’t seen his little friend in a long time.

He’d compromised on swimwear, debating his usual speedos and baggy American-style swimtrunks, at last choosing a fitted pair of shorts, basically Americanized speedos.

Little niece poked him indelicately in the crotch and asked him a basic anatomy question.

A lowing sound poured out of his mouth before he turned and walked all the way up to the wall.

Our older niece then asked, “What’s what?” I couldn’t stop laughing to tell her, and likely would have walked around her question anyway.

The man pulled himself together and rejoined us.

Taking a deep breath, I let him know, “You were warned.”

And then…

The cutest little niece answered her cousin’s question, “I’m talking about that,” and poked his crotch again. My husband fell to the floor and curled up, lowing like a lost calf.

The older, but not so much wiser, niece and I laughed until we couldn’t breathe.

Little muffin stomped her foot and yelled, “Why is everyone laughing?”

Selling His Body

“So this is why you’ve moved to the guest room?”

“Yes.” He had the audacity to look me in the eye, no flinching.

“Why? Is your life with me so hard to bear?”

“I just don’t feel a part of the world anymore.”

“Husbands don’t do this. For God’s sake, why not simply become a Buddhist? I could handle that.”

“Religion isn’t the answer. I’ve tried. There’s a deep need in me to give back to my community.”

This pushed me to the wall. Literally. I couldn’t move, or I would slide down the wall to the floor.

“Someone in OUR community? Anyone I know?”

He shuffled to the window. I noted that he was breathing heavily. After five ads, no doubt he was suffering. Yet I dare not dredge up sympathy for this man I thought I knew.

“No one you know. I don’t think anyone in our actual community. No one in our neighborhood, for sure. I can’t say I even know any of them.”

“So just random strangers?”

“Yeah, sure. They’re all deserving.”

“Am I not deserving?”

“This is not about you.”

“How long did you think you could do this before I found out?”

“I think not much longer. I’m already weak.”

“It would be obvious soon.”

“Listen, the recipients are much better off. There’s no need to consider them any longer.”

“Recipients? I don’t even know what to say.”

He sat down with a “humpf” in the big corner chair in the guest room and pulled up his pants leg. Instead of his athletic calf with golden hair, I saw a prosthetic leg. I continued to hold up the wall.

“How long?”

“Two weeks ago.”

“What else?”

He took a long, shallow breath and leaned back, whispering, “A kidney. A lung.”

We stared at each other in silence for seven of his shallow breaths.

“Tell me the truth. I do deserve that. I deserve the truth. Craigslist?”

“Yes, well, it had to be anonymous. I truly thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously. Did you know there was a black market on Craigslist? I wrote the ad as a last desperate measure.”

“I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that you wanted to give back to your community.”

He nodded and whispered, “You’re right.”

“So?”

“I’ve failed you. The money is gone. I lost my job.”

“What? When? Where have you been going?”

“Six months ago. I’ve been going to doctors, hospitals, once to Costa Rica.”

I gasped, “The business trip last March?”

“Yes. You have to understand. People will pay ungodly amounts for body parts.”

“I want you to stop.”

“It’s too late. My eyes are scheduled to go to some guy’s kid this summer.”

“Please stop.”

“This summer surgery is enough for your retirement. You don’t ever have to work.”

“No.”

“I love you.”

Lily and Jimmy in Prague

Dear Mama,

We had a great time in Prague. When we got off the train, we saw familiar signs pointing the way to Starbucks and KFC. Then we saw a McDonald’s sign that said it was 90 m, but I think that’s European miles, because not even a block later, we stopped at Mickey D’s and got ourselves dinner. The hotel room was real nice, but a bit confusing. The bed was made of pallets, like they was real poor, but the kitchen had a sticker inside the cabinet that said IKEA, which sounded like a fancy European store. It was real pretty red. The bed was comfy, though. The big, square couch in the room was decorated in red, white, and blue. You know Europeans love America. Jimmy said the red and blue RC on the wall stood for Royal Crown Cola, his favorite, but there wasn’t no proof of it. We stayed in at night, since there was graffiti everywhere. We hadn’t seen that before and think it might be gangs, so we entertained ourselves in the hotel after dark, if you know what I mean. Every building looks like a wedding cake here. They come in the strangest colors. Jimmy and I saw a show called Darling Cabaret, which was sort of like Cats, but European style with only women playing the cats. We also saw paintings by a very famous European artist. His paintings made no sense, but Jimmy says we are more cultured now. He wanted to go to Gentlemen Brothers, but I wouldn’t let him. We don’t do that shit (sorry Mama!). Churches here look all gloomy, like Cruella Devil is gonna come strutting out. Right next to the scary church, we got to drink chocolate water from the highest chocolate waterfall in Czech Republic. I don’t think it was a natural waterfall, cuz I didn’t see how the chocolate got to the top. Jimmy got him some new jeans at a real Levi’s store. It was not an outlet, but it was still cheaper, since everything is cheaper in Prague. There’s a bridge that crossed the river that looked really old. The bridge, I mean, not the river. Well, I guess the river is older, or it wouldn’t need a bridge. Anyway, me and Jimmy did not cross that bridge, cuz it looked so old. They have lots of old stuff in Prague, even old-timey cars like you would see at home only at the classic car show every Spring in Podunk. And their TVs are older than yours, if you can believe it! They have new stuff too. We ate at I Love Mama Cafe. Ain’t that sweet? Made me think of you, Mama. Love you! See you on our next vacation!

 

Lily folded the letter to her mama. She looked at Jimmy.

“Really think she’s gonna buy it?”

“Course she is. She ain’t never been nowhere, sweetie. She won’t know better. She don’t even go on the internet. Hell, she don’t even know there’s an internet.”

“I feel bad for stealing that lady’s Instagram pictures.”

“That lady don’t know your mama, does she?”

“I wish we could really go to Europe.”

“I know, Lil, but we got to both find good paying jobs first. When we visit your mama next Spring…”

“You mean the car show.”

“Well, it just happens to be going on in the Spring. There ain’t nothing wrong with killing two birds with one stone, honey. Anyhoo, your mama will be so proud of us. She’ll think we’re so fancy.”

“I guess. I am looking forward to the car show.”