Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flash Fiction by Mark Perry

The Most Common Side Effect

Robert had a problem and he determined to do something about it. The urologist gave
him a sample of medication for erectile dysfunction and stressed that the most common side has proven
to be headaches.
“If this works, I can handle a little inconvenience like that, Doc,” he promised.
That evening about thirty minutes after anxiously taking a pill, Robert witnessed a miraculous
resurrection. Excitedly, he leaped naked from the bath into the bedroom and showed his wide-eyed
wife. Her playful smile turned into a fretful frown.
“I’m sorry, Honey,” she said, “but not tonight. I have a headache.”

Mark Perry is a retired English teacher who currently practices law in Georgia. His most recent
work has appeared or will be appearing in Red River Review, Blue Ridge Literary Review, The Stray
Branch, The Germ, Boston Literary Magazine, and Parody.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Flash Fiction by Kristina England

The Distance You Can Traverse In A Minute

Gary woke to snow.  He was fine with snow, but he was hoping for fire.

"It just goes to show, the weathermen never get it right," he said, stretching and shaking off the piles that had collected in the folds of his body.

He dressed in shorts, scanned the room for a shirt.

"Of course not."

He opened the front door.  The void looked dense this morning.  He closed the door and walked into the kitchen.  He learned a long time ago not to open the fridge or the oven.  He sat down and thumped a finger agains the table.

"What to do... what to do..."

Yesterday, he walked back and forth from the front wall to the back wall for 1,440 minutes.  The day before, he had walked in circles around the kitchen table.

Movement always helped.  He knew what would happen if he sat at the kitchen table for 1,440 minutes.  He would start counting seconds or the strands of hair on his head.  He already knew he had 5,000 strands (God had not been good to him in the hair department).

Gary stood up and walked back to the front door.  He opened it and looked around.  He was tempted to step outside.  What would be there?  Who would be there?  He closed the door again.

What if there was no one out there?

What if even the weathermen couldn't be found?

He listened for their voices.  The chattering broke through the void around him.

"50% chance we'll have 20 to 1,000 meteorites hit our houses today... The void is about 50% desner than it was yesterday... the snow isn't really snow... it's tons and tons of dandruff..."

He looked down at his shirt and touched a white fleck.  It melted on his finger.

"Oh, the boys are getting crazier..."

He sat back and let the void re-enter his head.

He smiled, remembering his wife.  It's too bad he cheated on her.  She really did love him.  He debated again whether she was somewhere in the void.  Would God have forgiven her for suffocating him?  He shrugged.  Did it matter?

He gnawed on his finger, pulled at the wedding ring.  Nope, melded to the skin.

He went back to the door, opened it, looked at the void.

He was done with counting minutes.  The minutes of a day were always the same.

He was done listening to the weathermen.  They were idiots.

He was done walking in circles, sitting down, or waking up covered in cockroaches.

He was done thinking about why the books always said there would be fire.  He'd never even seen a candle.

Hell, he was done with it all.

Gary stepped outside and closed the door behind him.  He counted less than a minute before the void began to change.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her writing is published or forthcoming in Gargoyle, Haibun Today, Streetcake, and other journals. Visit http://kristinaengland.blogspot.com/ for more on her writing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flash Fiction by Pratima Balabhadrapathruni

Oranges and Lemons
The Dhobi Ghaut metro station was empty. It was the odd hour. Most people would be at work. Celine was going home after cooking lunch at the Chinese restaurant. She got into the train and sat close to the door. It would be easier to get off.
At Serangoon, the crowds poured in like torrents of sudden tropical rain. She loved the crowds like she loved the rain.. When attentive, she could isolate the familiar voices: the schoolchildren, the couple, the mother with her kids, and the group of co –workers.
Four more stops to go. She listened to the conversations around her. She heard the couple smile as they spoke. The woman was doing most of the talking. Can we buy the larger red lamp for the Chinese New year? Her voice was persuasive. You know my parents will be visiting us and we need to buy gifts for them and my sister. The man sounded apologetic. What do we buy for ourselves? She had a pout in her voice. A pair of oranges for you and me, is that not enough? He tried to placate her. This year too? The woman sounded disappointed.
The public system announced Celine's destination. She could have missed her stop. She got up and moved to the door, reaching out instinctively to counter balance the movement of the train, careful not to step on another’s foot. She often thought of herself as the ballerina of crowded trains.
At the neighborhood fruit shop, she bought herself an orange. Back home, she walked with impatience to her desk. The dialogue between the couple offered her a different subplot . She reached out to her keyboard with its keys in Braille.
As the clock chimed eight, the cat leaped onto her lap and mewed. She laughed as she got up. Too bad the cat does not like oranges, she thought as she made her way to her kitchenette. Fortunately, they both liked fish for dinner.
Pratima Balabhadrapathruni is a poet and writer from Singapore.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Flash Fiction by Jacqueline Markowski

In another life I was an avid stoner.  My boyfriend, Paul, only knew other stoners.  We went to a party once.  Thick with THC and trying to appease Phthonos, my paranoid mind wove a tapestry:  Paul had sent the quiet dud on the couch to flirt with me -- to see if I would tell on him, to test my loyalty.  Paul told me many times that he'd kill me if I ever cheated.  The dude left the couch when the conversation slowed and I never saw him again.  I spent at least an hour trying to remember the word "entrapment."  I had the "trap" part but couldn't remember the rest.
Later we smoked a joint with the couple who lived there.  He rolled it fat, leaving in all the seeds and stems.  he said, through a thick Russian accent, that to truly love cannabis, one must accept and appreciate it all, a sentiment punctuated with the popping of a red hot seed which kamikaze-dove from the forest-for-the-trees-joint into the man's lap.  Cant├írida, he yelled.  There was an eruptioin of laughter.  Maybe he was from Mexico.  From there I floated on a cloud of deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of everything, even the nuts and bolts of weed.  My thoughts meandered peacefully until his wife tugged at my cloud, beckoning me to a dark corner across the room.  She dug through her oversized purse, pulling out rustic tampons and q-tips and denture cream while she searched for her treasure, which I hoped was eye drops or gum.  Finally she pulled out a gallon sized ziplock bag.
It was half full of white powder.  I froze in place, afaid it was a felonious amount of something that might counteract this beautifully mellow high.  I was right to be cautious.  My first husband, she said.  There was an hour of silence before I realized that she was finished with the sentence.  I couldn't figure out how to say I was lost in the conversation.  It's him . . . His ashes.  Here . . . she said, clearly frustrated with my cognitive inabilities.  She unzipped the bag, put it to my nose, willing me to smell the act of cremation.  I pretended to inhale, moving my shoulders up above my drooping head.  Still congratulating myself on a damn fine act of pantomime, I saw that she was frowning and disappointed.  Touch him.  After negotiating with reality of what she'd just said, I lowered my hand below the zippered line of the opening of the bag and pretended to touch the contents.  No, like grab some.  Pick him up.  Not yet satisfied, she pinched a thimble-sized amount by way of example.  I tried not to do what she was asking of me.  While my hand was in the bag, hovering over the ask like The Hindenburg, she pulled the bag up, into my hand.  There, she said with a satisfied smile.  I looked up, shocked, hoping maybe it was an earthquake that crashed my hand into her dead first husband's remains.  That would've been so much easier.
Behind her I saw Paul walking toward us, looking curious, hurried.  Believing it possible he might feel threatened, I quickly pulled my arm out of this poor dead man's burnt body.  But my hand was covered in him.  Up to my wrist.  I had fisted the mother fucker!  And now what?  I was left with yet another awkward conundrum.  Should I clap my hands together so that most of him would fall to the ground and then blow off the rest?  Would that be considered rude in this type of situation?  Should I wipe him on my shorts?  Should I excuse myself and wash him off in the bathroom sink?  What had she done with the thimble-full?  If only I had paid attention.  Typical me, always missing the details.
What did I do?  I wish I could remember but I can't because suddenly my boyfriend grabbed my arm, hard and pulled me toward the door.  I couldn't even utter a word, I barely had my footing.  He dragged me to the car and drove us away furiously.  At first I thought he was being noble, saving me from the horrible social predicament of what to do with a fist full of some chick's first husband's ashes.  But he wasn't.  He was pissed.  He had received the report from the flirting couch-dude.
Jacqueline Markowski's work has appeared in Chronogram Magazine, Cochlea/The Neovictorian, Permafrost Literary Journal, Camel Saloon, Pyrokinection and Jellyfish Whispers and she has been anthologized in Backlit Barbell as well as the upcoming Storm Cycle (Kind of a Hurricane Press).  She was awarded first place in poetry during the 2006 Sandhills Writers Conference.  She is currently working on a compilation of short stories and a collection of poetry.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Flash Fiction by Linnea Harper

He Met Somebody at a Conference

He waited till we were in bed to spring it on me. You what?!? I sputtered. I probably sounded more upset than I was, but I had just ordered the bumper sticker he wanted, the one that says, My Girlfriend is a Goddess from Northport, and I was in no mood to pull it out of him piece by piece. So that’s why he never answered his cell. We didn’t have sex, he defended, like that was the point, like now I would roll over and say, Well, cool then! What’s her name? When is she coming to dinner? Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered that much. It’s a conference tradition— almost a requirement, really. The folks with an eye out find each other fast. And bang. Bang bang bang. But all they did was ditch meetings, take walk, and shop for clothes they had no intention of buying. They picked things out for each other, tried everything on. He just kept talking, and I held my tongue
I was getting a pretty good picture of how it was, how she studied him, standing there with her head at a tilt while a triptych of mirrors shed light on every angle and made him a multitude. Her eyes took in the whole of him, runner’s calf to GQ jowl, looking at him so intently it felt, he said, like she was looking all the way into the depths of the very black hole he feared he was, but then he would kind of flip inside-out and into a parallel universe with just the two of them. It was odd and a little eerie how it happened, and he thought that it must have felt almost like almost dying, but without the fear.
And I’m thinking what a piece of work. After confessing to three days eyeballing that tart in public, using their faux shopping trips for cover, and making it all sound like church, he wants my blessing. I always knew it was temporary, what with him barely older than my son, two little kids already, and a couple of pissed-off exes. I just didn’t see it coming this soon. And last week I loaned him money. Should have known better. We met at a conference too.