Sunday, October 18, 2015

Flash Fiction by Jim Meirose

Time Passes; Time Goes

The small frame house set in the edge of a development of identical houses two miles over the hill from the Rocky Hill Quarry.  The sound of the blasting from the quarry went on all day, all night, all year, every day and the sound swept across the development seeping into the kitchens and dining rooms and bedrooms of all the houses, including the small frame house where Tom sat at the head of the kitchen table eating his breakfast before leaving to catch the banged-up yellow bus at the corner for school.  His Mother bustled in a flowered apron putting away dishes and pots and pans she was retrieving from the dishwasher.  It being spring, the windows were open and through the screens came the distant rumbling of the blasting that punctuated the entire breakfast, indeed, that punctuated their very lives.  They were having a conversation about a question Tom had asked about the ocean.

Why doesn't the ocean water just soak into the ground and go away like it does when I dig a hole and fill it from the house and it just soaks away into the ground?  And the lakes and rivers--and all that?

I don't know, said Mother, struggling to put a glass pot onto a top shelf.  The glass rattled and clattered making shards of sharp sound in the air like it was breaking but it wasn't breaking.

Do you think Dad would know?

Rumbling rolled in from the direction of the quarry through the yielding rusty screen but they weren't hearing it anymore; it was real as the walls and floors and ceiling were real; the kind of real that isn't noticed any more.

Dad, yes, she said, closing the cabinet--Dad would know the answer to that.

She stopped short of saying but Dad is because in her mind Dad was not and the rumbling blasts went off in a sudden string, and Dad would be home later to answer the question but too late to see Tom they worked very late at the quarry that was what she said--

I can ask Dad when he comes home tonight, she told Tom.

But why can't I stay up and ask Dad?

Dad will be home very late again.  They work late at the quarry--

The distant rumbling crackled hard fading all around them.

Tom sat back holding up a fork of eggs.

Yes because I'm a little afraid Mom--I'm afraid the Ocean will someday be like the little holes I did.  All empty and then we won't be able to go there anymore.

Oh no, she said--that won't happen--oh, and oh yes I need to tell you.  Dad will be staying at the men's quarters at the quarry this weekend--he called.  He told me.  They got a lot of work to do over there so he needs to stay over and work the weekend and there's no point in driving back and forth when he can just stay there.  They're working double shifts.

None of this meant anything to Tom except he would not see his Dad for even longer and the explosions in the distance continued--strings of explosives were being set off.  They must be bringing down whole walls; whole walls of stone.

So when will I see Dad?

Oh, she said, pulling back her hair--next week probably--no not probably.  For sure.  For sure.

Why is he working so much?

The money is tremendous, she exclaimed.  That's why he's doing it.  For the money--but now you never mind Tom.  Eat your eggs.  The bus will come soon.

She put her hand to her forehead and a thought crossed her mind.

--everything passes; time passes until buses come; water passes away into the ground; next week will come because time passes what will I do next week after that time passes what will I tell him then--and will the oceans really empty in that time in that time--

Oh if everything would just stand still stand still--

Distant crackling rumble; then a great blast.  Echo, fade, silence.

Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Blueline, Ohio Edit, Bartleby Snopes, Innocate, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards.  Two collections of his short work and three novels have been published.  Two new novels will be released in 2015 and 2016 by Montag Press.

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