Short & Sweet Flash Fiction
Stories by Lincoln Michel, Holly Woodward, Kristie Betts Letter, Rayne Ayers-Debski, P.J. Kryfko, Destanie McAllister, Virginia Hartman, Zeke Jarvis, and Rachel Karyo; read by Kristen Calgaro, Samantha Jane Gurewitz, Jonathan Minton, and Jere Williams.
Hosted by Andrew Lloyd-Jones and Nancy Hightower at KGB Bar, NYC on Wednesday, 3rd August 2016.
The best thing about the running stroller is that if your hands leave the handlebar at any time, if the maternal instinct to grip tight leaves you for just a second, you have a backup in the clever leash that hangs about your wrist and so even if you let go, if you forget yourself, forget your motherly duties, you’re saved, aren’t you, because the stroller magically rolls back, no harm done, no rolling out into traffic and certainly no destabilization, no spilling of precious cargo, no traumatic brain injury to a soft, still-growing skull, because the large wheels, the whole body design, and the tri-corner chassis prevents any such maternal neglect, even if unintended.
This morning I murder your mother, but then I always murder your mother. You are in the barricaded bathroom weeping or possibly asleep. I use the machete as quietly as I can.
I understand why you cannot kill your mother, but, if I am being honest, it is hard on me too. Even with strips of skin hanging off her flesh like peeling paint, she bears an uncanny resemblance to you. You’ve always had her proud cheeks and slightly sunken eyes.
The government believes my ideas lack value.
“You deal in clichés,” she says. “The ideas of other people.”
I don’t defend myself, though some of my ideas are also hers. Listening to certain types of music while alone is very close to cheating; we both know this. Also, doing drugs or drinking too much, or watching a non-documentary film alone is like cheating, especially if the other person is at work. She feels this strongly, although she considers these activities an important part of her personal development. It bothers her that she has less time to develop herself than I do.
I needed to quit my job. The pay was terrible, the hours were worse, and besides, I was pretty sure my job was getting ready to quit me. I thought a lunch hour sitting in Central Park looking out over the lake would wind me down, give some serene perspective to the grind of my existence. All I got was bullshit.
For a long time, I ignored a man who pursued me, until one blistering afternoon I passed him on Fifth Avenue, and as he stared, I shot him a searing glance and saw reflected back in the dark center of his pale eye the thread of hate that runs through desire, the way a wick cores a candle, blackening as it devours the wax, and he bowed his head so close to my chest I smelled his sweat as he said that if it pleased me he would submit to my scorn, but I could never snuff out his devotion—that stung so I stopped and accepted his invitation to coffee...
I would never push you down the stairs. Never. Even if we were at the very top of a tall, winding staircase, the kind that would certainly break a person’s neck, and there was no one else around to see the results. I still wouldn’t do it. Even if watching a body bounce down all of those stairs, turning this way and that, losing control as it continued to roll, would look a little cool, like a movie or something. I still wouldn’t do it. Not to you.
From the window of our cottage on Florida Bay, my husband Jake watches the November sun sink. With his good hand, he touches the glass as if to try to stop it. I’m sitting on the couch behind him, one leg tucked under the other. I don’t want him to see me watching—since his stroke he’s uncomfortable with my premature grief—so I lower my head closer to my knitting.
My DNA: I want it back. The clones? I want them gone.
The Rachel 1000 working at The Sunshine Bakery is such a bitch. I can’t go in there anymore. I hope she catches her stubby little fingers in the bread slicer. I hope she develops a life-threatening allergy to gluten. What I miss most of all are the butterscotch biscotti.