Flash Fiction

Myth

Her stomach grows every day.  She isn’t pregnant, she is just nervous about the person she loves most in the world.

He used to send her things.  He doesn’t do that anymore.  Her stomach is full of the air it takes to swallow him.

In the mornings, when she showers, she washes the vessel of him and waits for a grateful response.  Nothing comes.  She has heard fables of women birthing devils and animals, predatory birds flying out of agonized mothers who then can focus on nothing but their missed opportunity for human love for the rest of their lives.  If she is one of those women she would hope to be more emotional, angrier but she isn’t.

She lies on her bed, massaging a cramp in her lower, bloated abdomen.  She rolls on her stomach to help put pressure on the pain, a new kind of pain, one that shoots down her legs, unforgiving and accusatory.  She blacks out, sharply.

When she awakes, her pillow wet from her hair, her hands wet from beneath her.  She cries anger.  She cries desperate wrath.  Her stomach pierced and empty by the sharp Forever absence of him.

 

The Reptilian Sky

They sit wearing towels.

She smokes.

He says, “This heat is professional.”

“Who pays the heat?” She asks.

“The dead dinosaurs.” He’s sure.

“Ghosts?”

“Clouds now.” He corrects her.

“Do you know much about dinosaurs?” She asks.

She sweats.

He sweats too.

“I am in constant conversation with dinosaurs but they refuse to talk about themselves. They’re egoless. I can’t even get names.” He loves the dinosaurs.

“I love them.” He says. “I wish I knew them better.”

The clouds roar.

A string of reptilian saliva drips in front of them.

It hangs. Thick.

A large claw reaches from above.

The claw wipes the saliva away.

A sniffle from above and the claw disappears.

“Rude!” She says.

“Just drool.” He says. “They get shy at the mention of Love.”

“Will they forgive us if we’re naked?”

“Obviously. Carnivorous reptiles love it when we strip.”

“I don’t mind being sacrificially naked.” She says. “If it means less punishment.”

“That seems right.”

They remove their towels.

The clouds cover them.

They cool off, naked, beneath the reptilian sky.

 

Carpenter Ants

She tells him about the thunderstorms.

She says, “Storms are controlled by the ants. I’ve heard. The ants and the sky are connected viscerally, ant blood, sky moisture, it all moves together.”

He removes grass from her knee.

“Have you ever killed an ant?” She asks him.

“Carpenter ants.” He says. “Killed them with a hammer because they criticized my paint job. They cry when you hurt them.”

“Cry thunderstorms?” She asks.

“Yeah. But it was indoors for us which is trouble for the woodwork.”

“Did the house flood?”

“Yeah,” he says, “and then the flood killed the ants.”

“We don’t have carpenter ants.” She says. “But, we have the picnic kind. Never hurt any, though. Never made any cry. That’s why our grass is dead.”

“Show me where.” He insists.

“By the fence.” She thinks.

He scoops dust.

The dust falls. Ants cover his hand, his arm.

The ants are crying.

It storms.

The Grass murmurs praises for him as it gulps ant tears, finally.

Possum

He says, “I believe that electrical sound is a possum.”

She blinks.

He says, “I believe possums invented electricity.   Because, I don’t think we’re extraordinary enough to be electrical.

She studies his I-Am-Telling-The-Hidden-Truth face.

“Also”, he says, “also, I believe it was The Possum who discovered Canada. And The beaver stole is “glory”.”

He categorizes Glory with his fingers.

“And now we have no glory.” He says (he’s removed his fingered categorization)

She wonders about glory.

He says, “I’d like to name my first child Glory.”

“Middle name: Canada.” She says.

He laughs.

The unseen possum buzzes.

“What is a possum?” She asks him.

“An electrician with a tail.” He says.

He yawns.

She grimaces.

She wonders if he can fix things.

He wonders nothing about her.

He falls asleep.

She follows the buzzing.

In the bush sits a possum:

A large-bodied, fat-rolled, fleshy mass, long tail floating behind him, jutting out from beneath a tool belt, bigger than the average man’s tool belt to allow for the circumferential demand of a possum waist but still, familiar, in tools, to the average man.

“Was I being too loud?” Asks the possum.

“No.” She said.

Possum eyebrows seem satisfied but his eyes never open.

“Is there something wrong with the electricity?” She asks.

“No.” He says. “I am the electricity. Do I look wrong?”

“Do you mean “electrician”?” She asks.

“No!”

She has offended the possum.

She did not know she could offend a possum.

She shuffles her feet, stepping, horridly, in possum waste.

The possum burps. Dirt sparks.

“Sorry.” He says.

He covers his mouth with human arms and hands.

She asks, “Where did you get those hands?”

“Where did you get yours?” He asks.

“I don’t know.” She says.

The possum buzzes, his whole body in sparks.

Possum eyebrows hate her.

Possum eyes, still closed, squint.

He turns away from her.

He buzzes again, continuously, a firm rejection.

She leaves the bush.

He is sitting up, awake.

“What?” He asks.

“I met the possum.” She says. “He’s rude but, I get it.”

“Was the possum at all glorious?” He asks.

“A bit fat.” She compromises.

They listen.

“Good.” He says. “He’ll keep the lights running, then.”

She will never turn the lights on again.

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