Friday, February 27, 2015

Flash Fiction by A.J. Huffman

The Phone Call

An 800 number had been blowing up my niece's phone for almost ten minutes.  Unable to handle the constant ringing, she finally answered.  It was a bill collector calling regarding an unpaid balance on a Capital One credit card.

My niece, working in the telemarketing industry for years, tried to be nice to the caller, explained she had not had a Capital One credit card in over ten years.

"Fourteen years, ma'am," the woman on the phone corrected her.

"So let me get this straight," my niece, still maintaining her composure said, attempted to gain clarity on the situation.  "You are calling me about a debt from fourteen years ago?"

"That's correct, ma'am."

"You do realize that there is a statute of limitations on debts over seven years old?" my niece incredulously explained.  "You no longer have any legal standing to sue me regarding this debt."

"We have no intentions of suing you, ma'am."

"Then why are you calling me about it after fourteen years?"

"Well, ma'am, you still owe the debt."

"I see."

"And our records show that you paid on this debt in a timely manner for several years before defaulting on it."

By this time, my niece's patience was wearing thin.  "I'm aware of that," she said.  "What's your point?"

"We thought you might be interested in re-engaging such timely payments on the account now."

"After fourteen years?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"You've got to be kidding me?"

"No, ma'am, I'm very serious."

At this, my niece burst out laughing into the phone receiver.  It took her several moments to regain her composure.  "I'm sorry," she said to the caller.  "I know you're just trying to do your job, but seriously?  This is the most ridiculous conversation I've ever had."  Stifling another laugh, she added, "What is it you want from me?"

"We want to know your intentions regarding this outstanding debt, ma'am," the lady on the phone explained.

"Well, that's easy," my niece responded.  "What are your intentions regarding this outstanding debt?"

"I don't understand, ma'am?"

"Are you going to pay this unrecoverable debt for me?"

"Of course not, ma'am.  That's ridiculous," the woman on the phone actually sounded offended.

"Well, neither am I," my niece laughed again.  "Have a nice day," she added before clicking the phone dead.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flash Fiction from Linda Casper

The Unknown

It was inevitable that they would come but not when that time would be.  She no longer listened out for footsteps or voices.  She wasn't afraid.  There was little to live for after they had murdered her husband of nearly forty years.  For the first time in her life she was thankful that she was unable to bear children.  Her death would upset no one.  She and Raf had lived a solitary life on the smallholding.  They were content to survive on whatever they had grown and sold.  The livestock had been slaughtered long ago.  Having to kill the dog was the hardest; Raf had taken care of that, for which she was grateful.

Not knowing when her next meal would be, she forced herself to eat something.  On the heavy, wooden table she placed a tray with rye bread, olives and cheese with a glass of red wine to wash it down.  It could be her last supper.  As she sat, a wry smile appeared on her face.  What did it matter if she ate or not, it was only delaying her fate.

She had considered taking her own life or even attempting to escape, but they would certainly find her, knowing the area as they did.  It was like a knife twisting inside her that her neighbors, people amongst whom they had lived amongst for years, could behave like a pack of wild dogs.  As a young girl she had never heeded her father's warnings.  He would tell her repeatedly that, as soon as hardship reared its head, their neighbors would turn on them and make them their scapegoat.

She considered taking something from her home.  A memento, like a brook or a photograph.  She opened the solid oak dresser door whose creaking usually reminded her it needed an application of oil.  From the back of the shelf she extracted her diary.  When her hand felt the tablet of chocolate, she extracted that too.  That will keep the wolf from the door, she thought as she slipped it in the pocket of her dress.

She froze then turned around to face the door from where she had heard a gentle tapping.  So, it was time.  She calmly packed the diary and chocolate into the canvas bag, picked up her coat from the chair and opened the door.

"It's you," she murmured, as she recognized Janek, the firstborn of her neighbor who she herself had delivered into this world.

"Come quickly babka.  We promised Raf to take care of you before he was taken."

Linda Casper hails from Yorkshire and, after a long career as a high school teacher, she has recently begun to write and has had many short stories, poems and travel articles published.  Linda has a keen interest in gardening and is a judge for Yorkshire in Bloom.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flash Fiction from Felino A. Soriano

Extrapolation’s hazy clarity 
This young morning I deciphered several altering footsteps claiming needed space across the too-close sidewalk near my bedroom window.  Annoyed/intrigued I unraveled from the wrinkled hobby of my bed and looked between the horizontal fingers covering my window’s aging vision. 
Strange and perhaps the strangeness of hallway-width hearing tricked my mind into an uncertain belief. The steps weren’t that of rapid moving men or even of the neighbor’s children who’ve awakened me many times in the past.  No, it was rain; an overwhelming style of rain—the formations angled like new-silver nails into strength of wood holding together a weekend pastime.
Cars, too.  Yes, various tonal blurs amid a map of asphalt sameness.  Interesting how the wet serial cycles arise from the black-gray mood of 1st street’s incorporated usage.
Tangled, surprised, abstract I now needed removal from this awakened aspect of sedentary watching.  My wife, explicit in the observation of early-style haze, portends a subjective subsequent answer:
Her eye a verbal query at my standing—I was unaware.
“Sure.”  An empty bowl called toward my own effort.
My voice, an indifferent tool conducting appositional space/confusion.  She abandoned my achromatic communication, bequeathing concrete warmth upon my right cheek, a scented fabricated fruit stayed from the kiss I needn’t imagine.
Within the wholeness of isolated comprehension, I gazed near the counter where her shape stirred.  A silvery silhouette gazed at mine, incorporating taunts of mystic reproach toward my unnatural imagination.
Vaguely, I memorized her smile, hand stitched into my favorite photograph of her open-door silhouette. 
“Your attention is laughable” I heard from the nuanced insulter.  Outside’s rain I can now hear atop the home I’ve conceptualized into a mirage of safety and concern.  Simultaneous sounds—the angled wetness above collocated with the silhouette’s believable brand of flat but intuitive realness.  Apparent was the resemblance, though faint this message had with my wife whose leaving confounded my ability to reclaim purposeful meaning.
I spoke but said only with my sitting body.
“Limp.”  “Afraid?”  “Comparing.”
I tried to imagine circumstances of consequences—the noble ability to alter movement when the conscience pilots my mind’s incorporating losing.  Strange because the whiskey on my last night’s tongue had fully dissipated; the taste now a memory of shouldn’t.  Strange because the late start of my late night had controlled into pause—for the morning had perused, began, extended.
Exacerbation became the soliloquy.  Feeling as two closed eyes would heal the source of aggravation, I depended on a brand of diagonal sleep to become a cure for dormant exclamation.  In an apparent dexterity of wrongdoing, my wife arrived home to her yelling at my soggy cereal neighboring the curled slobber I’ve created atop our dinner table. 
My attempt at an altered reflection was unsuccessful.
An apology requested my mouth to move quickly.  “Sorry”, the quickness was inexistent.  Upset, she removed herself again from my presence, this time sans the warming kiss containing a fabricated scent of fruit. 
Alone, squared.
This patterned method of my living required devotional conviction of apparent but unanswered queries.  I needed detoxification, an agile rendition. 
From the family room I could hear a rhythm of sighs, cries.  My wife became a reinvention, an angered ideology.  I approached, she faded.  Her personable momentum of earlier’s visit, vanished.  There, my favorite photograph—the memorized smile; adjacent, a recollection indicating intent to store various celebrations.  The glass of the frame, cracked, restructuring function’s elation into jagged metaphor.
I sat within a favorite chair’s embrace. Involving wholeness was the enveloping reactionary focus.  Irony was impulsive, explosive: thoughtful intent to intertwine with the moment’s context of my truant aim.  Altered thought moved into correct direction.  To myself I whispered the calming chant “change, change.”  To enact this pebble of momentum I required faith from the forgotten aspect of my failing diligence. 
Once more, the favorite photograph facilitated a final memory; within the silence a derivative of desire relaxed into a stance of altruistic scold.  My listening ensured tomorrow, one of inspired music akin to the rain outside serenading abstractions into the clarity of before’s meaningful invention.

Felino A. Soriano edits Of/with: journal of immanent renditions.  More information can be found at

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flash Fiction by Lana Bella

She could not say with any conviction what had turned her love affair into something altogether else, and so gravely out of reach in its current state of ruin. Those sweet bygone days tore alongside her as she broke away, from what she did not know, but whatever it was, it had chased her out alone into the desolate grounds of fate; tumbling and half-falling, retracing memories of and plunging back into the forgotten years. In the recent days, it seemed she could always make out unmistakably the memories of bliss in naiveté, and anguish in wisdom, all engraved upon her waning spirit. The wretched self and her other more able-bodied being, both past and present, were slight in their bearing, and yet, the faint mingling of whispering, sighing and weeping, became the constant noise which accompanied her as they rattled upon the fragile hinges on her soul. 
The familiar arrival of the after light fluttered by, trailed inward from under the entryway like the rattling tail of autumn smoke, made ominously bright by the hanging kerosene lamp burning ever so softly beside the dusty wooden chair left on to light its way. She breathed in the crisp November dusk, mixed with the sharp pain of the unforgiving tides from the hovering affairs of her recent life. Her glove-less fingers had grown numbed with cold, smoothed along the aged writing chair set away from the curved stairway; the lustrous inky strands had since came loose of the ivory comb and tousled down upon her shoulders in disarray; those amber eyes have lost their dazzling brilliance, now flashed instead of anger and pain, then all at once hurled themselves across the stained teal tiles and directed up, brought to a standstill by the steadfast gaze which reflected back from the looking glass on the dressing vanity against the corner wall, and under the gold-colored lamp they appeared unflinchingly bright with unshed tears.
It felt like the whole world had moved on, herself breathed still but not living, abandoning her in a nostalgic and derelict past she'd never again visit. Just as suddenly, a startling sob escaped her lips, conceding that any consoling word of insight already came too late, as if out of whimsy, each and every crafted word had wittingly lodged themselves deep within her catatonic consciousness, idled away under its dark recess while slithered to the bottom-most among the overlays of time, where they at long last, mingled with the other muffled and unspoken thoughts which had lain dormant in hush suspension. The artless illusion of her innocence, made haste by the weight of neglect, had her swiftly sped downward to a maddening void of guilt and torment; and there, was where she stood at sea, on the verge of coming to be a lost beauty, no longer a misspent and simple youth yet holding on to traces of the girl she had been. How hauntingly sad and mad and bad it was, but then how it was sweet, this gravity of regret. And how utterly sad to realize it's too good to leave, and sadder still, too bad to stay.
**Robert Browning was written with his famous quote in mind: How sad and bad and mad it was. But then, how it was sweet.
Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction published and forthcoming with Anak Sastra, Atlas Poetica, Bewildering Stories, Buck-Off Magazine, Calliope Magazine, Eunoia Review, Cecil's Writers' Magazine, Deltona Howl, Earl of Plaid Lit, Family Travel Haiku, First Literary Review-East, Foliate Oak Literary, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Global Poetry, Ken*Again, Marco Polo Arts Literary, Nature Writing, New Plains Review, The Commonline Journal, The Higgs Weldon, The Voices Project, War Anthology: We Go On, Thought Notebook, Undertow Tanka Review, Wordpool Press, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Featured Artist with Quail Bell Magazine. She resides on some distant isle with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps.