Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Flash Fiction by Daniel Clausen

T.E. Lawrence in Japan

Somehow, I’ve managed to conquer a part of my small cubicle. I have usurped the space under my desk. When I crawl under, I find my own fortress of solitude, constructed out of books. Stacked way in the back, they lie half hidden by the shadow of the desk. If any of my coworkers were to see me with my feet dangling out of the bottom of my desk, I could always say that I’m searching for the magic portal to former Prime Minister Koizumi’s head.
Among basic guides on financial analysis, here and there are the books that sustain me: a copy of Barbara Leaming’s biography of Orson Welles, here; the History of the Peloponnesian War, there; a few books by Haruki Murakami; and good ol’ Maniac Magee. And there, in the very back, is T.E. Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
I take it with me to lunch, in part to ward off the evil spirits and the office lady courting me as a suitor. In part I take it to help me remember.
I walk to a cafĂ© located near the subway station, an old place with dimmed lights―someplace that seems so forgotten its existence is questionable. Smoke hangs like a fog as the old-timers sit around with their newspapers, cigarettes, and bitter coffee. The older men wear black suits and ties, but it’s impossible to tell what they do or even if they’re still employed. The older suits and I leave each other to ourselves.
I open the book and read some of my crude handwritten notes from college: ideas about essays, notes on bills I had to pay. All these things remind me of those haphazard, fast days that were finished before they ever began. Eventually, I focus on the words because I want to be sitting next to Lawrence. Not the real T.E. Lawrence, but the one that exists in my head.
My eyes go over the words, feeling his uneasiness, feeling the awkwardness of writing, the relief of expression/confession, and the frightening sensation when an expression catches the tail end of something hidden in truth’s basement.
“A man who gives himself to be a possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life.” In my buttoned-down suit, necktie choking my face red, my hair nicely trimmed, I can feel T.E. Lawrence’s cold, clammy sentiment on the back of my neck. Glancing over the pages, I’m reminded that I’m an Englishman in Arab garb. I am here, and cannot explain my own existence. My shoes, dress, tongue, and nationality clash beautifully with what is around me, and for a moment I’m sure I exist as unreal as mountain gods oppressing the lives of salarymen, the supernatural management of Japan waiting to weed out the malcontents.
Daniel Clausen’s fiction has been published in Slipstream Magazine, Zygote in my Coffee, Leading Edge Magazine, and Spindrift, among other places. You can learn more about his newest novel, The Ghosts of Nagasaki, at:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Flash Fiction by Linda M. Crate

Missing You

I miss you. It's been years since I've seen your smiling face. Years since I saw the sun dance through your crimson hair or laugh in your lovely blue bird's egg blue eyes.

I still love you, though, you've long since forgotten me. We haven't spent time together since twenty years ago!

I remember Cindy's party.

That's where we first met. You were radiant and dazzling in your favorite blue dress. The one that matched your eyes.

We became thick as thieves. We did everything together. I remember the time we spent  the day at the beach reading. You told me all your secrets, and all these years I've kept them.

I miss those days full of us.

We laughed together, cried together, raged together. Everything seemed to point to a forever love. Then one day you didn't need me anymore. I don't know why.

I still hung around, but you didn't talk to me anymore. I couldn't understand why. I couldn't recall saying or doing anything that would make you hate me, but you had new friends and decided to move on without me.

It's always hard when people move on without you. I remember that lesson well. You told me that when Jeffrey had rejected your advances when you were six or when Winifred decided to have a new best friend at age eight. They don't seem to realize or even care that they've hurt you or how deeply it impacts you.

Then you turned around and did the same thing to me.

I'm not writing this to call you a hypocrite or anything - just because I miss you.

I sit lonely in this cardboard box day after day. I just want for one day you to open this box, wondering of the contents, to see your smiling face again. To hear you cry 'Teddy' one last time before you pass me off to a child or a grandchild and tell them of all the wonderful times we shared. But maybe you forgot me completely. Maybe you'll never find me again.

I was always an optimist, so I'm going to keep hoping one day you need me again. Because I still need you.
Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh, but she was raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She attended and graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English-Literature in 2009. Her poetry, articles, reviews, and short stories have appeared in several journals online and in print. Her poetry chapbook A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn was recently published by Fowlpox Press. Her novel Amethyst Epiphany is forthcoming from Assent Publishing under their imprint Phantasm Books.