Flash Fiction

Here are a variety of flash fiction stories I’ve written, most of which were written for the Rue|LouPrompts Series. My favorites have ‘**” for your reference!

Demon Inside
“It grips me in a chokehold, the breath hanging suspended in my throat....”

Enough About Love
“Their footsteps echoed on the steel floor beneath them, a metal clang swallowed by the empty streets. It was morning yet, the sun barely risen, the pinks and oranges reflected back from the galvanized walkway...”

** Fear Not the Gods
“I often wonder what the Gods thought would happen upon their return. Maybe they thought we needed guidance, that their magnanimous but firm hand would turn the human race into something of universal beauty…”

** Flappers & Finches (All That Glitters Isn’t Gold)
“She glittered like gold, and I was the magpie. It could have been love, but gold changes hands, and birds are born to fly. She was gone by morning…”

** I’ll Be Your Misfit
“It wasn’t that the dog was ugly, per se…”

A New Color of Sunrise
“I’ve been staring at my account for half an hour, but it doesn’t change. No matter how much I will it, no money magically appears...”

A New Mountain
“I struggle through the drifts, feet burying into snow up to my knees with every step. ....”

No Roots
My mother once told me, ‘you can cast seeds, but you don’t know which will sprout.’
Her face is draining of color, lips turning blue as I watch...”

Prince of Glass
“‘I’m just young enough to still believe but young enough not to know what to believe in.’
The first words I remember telling you are branded in my memory...”

** Sleeping Dogs Don’t Lie
“The biting air prickled the skin on his face. Caleb saved his hands by burying them in his coat pockets, but the cold still penetrated down to his bones…”

A Space Between the Stars
“‘You’re as dumb as an ox, Cam.’
The other kids, his teachers, his parents, his best friend- they were all in agreement...”

Ten Nanoseconds
“Ten nanoseconds. It’s my mantra. My saving grace and my kryptonite. It alternates between a lifeline and the rope to hang myself with...”

** With the Pieces
“It was a Tuesday when her heart broke…”

Flash Fiction: “I’ll Be Your Misfit”

It wasn’t that the dog was ugly, per se.

It’s fur was sparse, mismatched lengths in a mottled grey and brown where it hadn’t been shaved. It’s skin was pink with tiny bumps raised along the shaved areas—the adoption card said it’d recovered from mange. It was medium height, longish but not long, with legs that were shortish but not short. An in between that wasn’t quite enough of either to be cute, but rather came off as odd. In the low light of the shelter, it’s eyes—her eyes, the car said—seemed jet black, like they would suck your soul from your chest. Like she could devour you with just those beady black eyes from where you stood.

Okay. Maybe she was just a little ugly.

But so was he.

He bent down low on his knees, sticking his fingers between the links of the fence. “I’ll be your misfit if you’ll be mine? How does that sound girl?”

She didn’t move. She stayed laying down in her bed, staring at him with those dark, abyss eyes.

Her eyes weren’t black.

He didn’t learn this until the following day, as he sat eating his cereal at his kitchenette table. She’d spent the previous day sniffing through the house room by room, nose to the ground. He’d not been able to shake her from her task.

Today she stared at him—or more likely, his food—with honey brown eyes that melted his heart.

“Where’d those come from?” he asked her, knowing not to expect an answer.

She licked her lips, and he snuck her some toast under the table, even though there was no one to be sneaking from.

He was surprised to learn when her fur started to grow back that the mottled colors were actually a mix of black, white and brown splotches, along with tufts of grey from old age.

By the time it had grown an inch, it looked endearing, and she’d begun to sleep in his bed. When his niece had been spending the night and opened his door to ask for a glass of water, she’d growled at her loud enough to send her running to her bed. He’d tutted at her and left the room to calm his niece down.

When the fur had grown several inches, and she had become fluffy enough for the hair to stick to the couch, Lilah—as he had finally named her—fell asleep on the couch with his niece, and barked fiercely at his brother when he’d come to pick his niece up.

On her adopt-aversary, he went to the local dog bakery to get a special treat for Lilah. He became overwhelmed quickly at all the dog biscuits, peanut butter baked bones, scones, pretzels, and pupcakes, enough that other customers began to take notice.

One in particular took pity on him. The stranger came over, smile wide, shoulders relaxed and held out a hand towards the array. “Having trouble? Want some ideas?”

He let out a sign in gratitude. “Thank you, that’d be a big help. I just adopted Lilah a year ago today, and I can’t decide what to get her.”

The stranger chuckled and nodded in approval. “I love to hear about fellow adopters, and yes, it can be overwhelming. This may sound weird, but all the food can be eaten by dogs and humans, so me and my dog Leto will share a few treats together. The Strawberry Lemon cupcakes are great, so are the Carob Chip and Pretzel Bars. Oh, and we like the Dill Peanut Butter Pretzels. But we’re kind of misfits.”

He smiles, leaning in closer, and hopes that Lilah doesn’t mind sharing.

“I love misfits.”

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: Sleeping Dogs Don’t Lie

The biting air prickled the skin on his face. Caleb saved his hands by burying them in his coat pockets, but the cold still penetrated down to his bones.

It had been a terrible start to his new job. Possibly soon to be his old job if things didn’t change. His boss had taken him aside at the end of the day to warn him of his poor performance—as if he hadn’t known himself.

Walking towards his subsidized apartment along the deserted street, it took all of his willpower to keep the damning thoughts at bay. He’d messed up, and now the best he could hope for was a minimum wage job serving white middle-class accountants and doctors their morning coffee. It was a dead-end job, and he knew it.

Maybe it was better to just give up now.

Rounding the corner, he jumped as a dark shape ran towards him, his mind only retroactively registering that it was behind a metal fence. The shape, a black and white, hulking pit bull, stopped at the edge and stood up on his hind legs to try to reach him, his whole lower half shaking with his tail. He was panting with joy in his eyes as if he had been waiting just for Caleb.

With a worn smile, he reached his arm forward to let the dog sniff at his fingers. It’s mouth closed and head tilted as he—she?— did just that. Once the dog was satisfied that he was an acceptable companion, it bumped it’s nose into his hand, demanding pets.

Caleb’s smile became warm as he scratched behind the dog’s ears. He twisted the collar around to read the name on the metal tag: Daisy.

“Hello, Daisy,” he said, “It’s nice to meet you. You have such a beautiful smile sweet girl.”

Daisy licked his hand at his crooning, rubbing her head against his palm to keep him petting her.

And if he entered his apartment with a smile, no one else would ever know.

His visits to Daisy on his long trek home became routine. By summer, she waited for him like clockwork at the fence. In turn he brought her dog biscuits, toys, and bits of rope they played tug of war with.

Work got better. Actually, everything got better. By fall he had a job offer one town over that promised paid time off and benefits. He was being given a second chance, and while he was overjoyed now that his future seemed to only be getting brighter, there was another bright spot in his life that he would miss.

The day the moving truck was loaded, he knew it was time to say goodbye. He had bought a large box of peanut butter cookies meant for dogs from a local bakery, complete with a red bow on top and a card. It may have been overboard for someone who wouldn’t understand the gesture, but Daisy meant more to him than she would ever understand anyway.

Except Daisy wasn’t in the yard. It wasn’t unusual—he rarely ever saw her this time of day, so he shouldn’t have been surprised. But that didn’t move the lump forming in his throat.

Making an impulsive decision, he decided that if Daisy couldn’t come to him, he’d go to her. He rounded the corner to the building that was connected to the gated yard. It was an attached brick home, two stories with the black metal gate along the side. It wasn’t cheap, even for that area, but he was filled with an overwhelming need to see his rescuer before he left.

Gathering his courage, he walked up the concrete steps and knocked firmly on the door. He heard noises coming from the other side, and after what felt like minutes a stocky, white-haired older woman wearing a soft gray knit sweater opened the door.

“Can I help you?” she asked, her voice congenial but confused.

He floundered for a few seconds before he offered her the box. “I live in the apartment a few blocks down, but I’m moving away. I just wanted to give these to your dog, as a thank you.”

The woman shook her head, mouth thinning. “I don’t have a dog. You must be mistaking this house with another.”

Caleb furrowed his brow, mouth gaping at the unexpected answer. It was a strange request he was making, sure, but this was unexpected.

“Daisy isn’t your dog? Then who’s dog is she?”

The woman’s eyes widened, and she brought her wrinkled hand to her chest. She inhaled with a start, tilted her head in question. “Daisy? Whenever did you see Daisy?”

Caleb lowered the box of biscuits, his heart pounding with fear. Did something happen to his Daisy? “I saw her just yesterday, in the yard.”

The lady wiped at her eyes, shaking her head and mouth quaking.

“You must be mistaken, young man. Daisy died four years ago.”

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: Flappers and Finches (All that Glitters Isn’t Gold)

She glittered like gold, and I was the magpie. It could have been love, but gold changes hands, and birds are born to fly. She was gone by morning.

I kept the delicate silver charm bracelet she left on my nightstand. Its chain shone in the light, a dove charm with jeweled eyes hanging from a link. I used the excuse that I didn’t have a way to contact her. I didn’t even know if that was her real name. The chain was too big for my thin wrist, but I wore it anyway.

In my memories I see her as a peacock, tail feathers dazzling in the light as she danced. But then I berated myself for my callousness. Peacock’s are beautiful, but dumb as hell. We hadn’t spoken enough for me to gauge her wit, but I don’t want to let my bitterness shadow who she could have been.

But the bitterness caught on my tongue when we met eyes at the next soiree (or so the invitation called it.) Her blue jay eyes offered no recognition to my own longing gaze, and the moment passed without the promise of a second one. I lose myself in the liminal space between the time where my heart beat with hope and the disappointment when hands that weren’t my own guided her on the tiled ballroom floor.

I’m no fool. I can rationalize that a one night stand isn’t the best foundation for a love story. But it wasn’t the memories of the room with a view that replayed in a loop in my mind.

We’d talked. Thrown together by happenstance, bumping into each other in a crowd too large and too loud for someone who spends their days in the quiet of the forest, cataloging bird populations and mating habits of chickadees. She saw something in my eyes, pulled me away from the dizzyingly glamorous lights. We spoke in hushed tones— first the weather, then our careers, an avalanche that dragged me down into conversations about our childhoods and our greatest fears. When there was finally a moment of silence between us, the room was quieter, the lights softer, the room emptier.

It seemed natural to spend the night with her but now I wonder if that had turned what could have been a love sonnet into a haiku of wit and impermanence. I was familiar with loneliness. The longing was a new agony.

I sat down my empty champagne glass at an open spot of a table lining the ballroom, adjusted my sequined and tasseled dress, black with geometric patterns in gold. My fingers itched to pull my hair free from my feathered headpiece, but it could wait until I reached the cool of the autumn air and the sparsely lighted cobbled street.

After I offered the host my thanks for the party—that more than likely cost more than my research budget for the year—I got my black fur coat from the doorman and made my way into the biting cold of the night.

I’m at the corner, turning my head to watch for passing cars, when I heard the voice. “Anya!”

I inhaled frigid air as I debated whether to ignore her approach or turn, but I am the hummingbird to her flower. I turned.

She was alone, walked towards me at a pace that had me worried about the height of her heels. In concern, I met her halfway. I found I couldn’t school my expression, and I feared that my annoyance and hurt were betrayed on my face. She smiled though, perfect white teeth and flawlessly red painted lips.

“I was hoping I’d see you tonight,” she said. There’s hurt transparent in her next question. “Why didn’t you come?”

I froze in confusion, caught in her brightness, and confused by words that don’t match my perception. “Come where?”

She pouted, and I wondered that she made it seem like a flirtation. “To my gallery opening. I waited for you, but you never came.”

I clenched my eyes, eyebrows furrowing. “You never told me about that. Or at least, you never told me when or where it was.”

She clicked her tongue in annoyance, and the noise is so like a birds twitter that I find myself falling already. Again. “I left the invitation on the nightstand. I had to leave for an interview with the press and I didn’t want to wake you.”

My chest constricted, and it felt like there’s ice in my veins. “That was yours?” I ask, and I suddenly feel like the biggest fool.

She laughed then, and the sound is like a songbird. “It was under my stage name, goodness me I forgot to tell you.” She leaned forward into me, the fur in our coats mingling, her hands guided mine to her waist. “Aren’t we the most awkward dame’s in the city?”

I gave her a lazy smile, held her close. “The most awkward peacock’s is more like it.”

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: With the Pieces

It was a Tuesday when her heart broke.

There was nothing significant about that particular Tuesday. She wouldn’t even remember what day it was, if she hadn’t written it in her journal. She found it so odd that it would break on such a day, as Tuesdays have little to no meaning besides being the day after Monday, and far too early in the school week.

And yet, that was when her heart broke. It shattered into pieces, the sound a muffled cracking of glass. She took the pieces and placed them in a plastic sandwich bag, hoping the sharp edges wouldn’t break through. It wouldn’t do to lose pieces of her heart to a hole. Bad enough she’d broken it in the first place.

She placed it in her dresser, under socks and unmentionables, thinking surely her little brother wouldn’t get into it there. She feared he’d cut himself on the sharp edges—or worse, lose or break a piece.

She didn’t know what could be done about it, though, her broken heart. There were plenty of theories amongst her pre-teen girl friends, but no solid evidence that any of it worked.

Dating was one option, but she had no interest in anyone, girl, boy, or otherwise.

Her mother and father may have something to say about it, but she was too afraid to admit she’d broken something so important. No, she had to figure this out on her own.

But as many things do, the broken pieces of her heart wrapped in plastic in her dresser grew forgotten over the years. And what of it? She did well in her classes, she didn’t have any close friends but she made do with acquaintances. The teachers, her family and friends, they all loved her. What did it matter if she couldn’t love them back?

It was something her second girlfriend says that reminds her of the secret hidden in her dresser drawer. “I feel like you’re so disconnected,” she had said. “That you don’t let anyone in.”

This reminded her of her shame, because how can you feel connected to anyone without a heart?

Later that night, she pulled the plastic bag out of her dresser drawer. It was worse for the wear, years of being pushed back and forth between socks and underwear had worn down the sharp edges. She laid the pieces out on her bedspread, and found they didn’t even fit together anymore. How to fix something so broken?

She pondered on this for a while, dismissing ideas as they came. Finally, she thought that maybe she could glue it all together and hope for the best. But first, she needed to do a test- it wouldn’t do to mess it up on her first try. Not that it could get any more broken, but she didn’t trust in her own abilities to hold it steady.

And so she went to her desk, grabbed several sheets of crisp white computer paper, and traced every piece. When that was done, she thought she might as well decorate it, seems how art was one of her favorite subjects, and leaving it blank felt like a waste.

And so each piece took on a new theme- flowers, hearts, clouds, rainbows. When it was all done, she took clear tape and taped it all into a 3D montage until it’s stood on its own, a sort of delicate paper sculpture. She was ready.
But she was also tired. And so she replaced the pieces of her heart into a baggie, and put them back in her dresser drawer to start putting back together tomorrow.

The next day, she placed her schoolbag over the back of her chair, and stared at the paper heart. Just as she decided it was time, her mother knocked on the door, and came directly in—a habit she’d promised she’d stop doing, but that was her mother.

“Did you see that your father-” she starts, then sees the heart on the table. “Well isn’t that just gorgeous sweetheart?” Her mother walks over, leans forward to look at the diagram of the heart, beautiful in it’s simple and varied decorations. “It’s beautiful darling. We should hang this up in the living room, fishing line from the ceiling ought to do it.”

She opens her mouth to protest, but stops. Inside her chest, near her lungs and just under her ribcage, she feels a flutter. A wisp of feeling.

In a moment her mind is set. “I’d love that,” she says, to her mother’s surprise. “Can I help?”

In the following years, decades, and lifetime, whenever she felt those moments of darkness, when the hollow where her heart used to be aches, she picks up pen, pencil, paint—whatever she can find—and she creates with the heart she’s missing.

And she feels.

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: Fear Not the Gods

I often wonder what the Gods thought would happen upon their return. Maybe they thought we needed guidance, that their magnanimous but firm hand would turn the human race into something of universal beauty.

They probably didn’t expect a war. I wonder how omnipotent beings didn’t see it coming. If there’s one universal human trait, it’s that we don’t like to be told what we can and cannot be. Even by our creators.

But it’s not the Gods I fear. It’s men.

“You cannot be serious?” I echo. My compatriot grimaces at my tone, baring his teeth in his annoyance. He turns away and continues setting the charge.

We’re three hundred feet below street level of one of the God’s free cities. They’re utopia’s where humanity enjoys equanimity and safety… provided they worship the hand that feeds them.

“You think I got time to joke?” he says, straightening when the last one is ready, grabbing the roll of wire by the dowels on either side of the plastic base. He lets it loose as he walks backward. I follow behind him at a clip.

“I was told this was a reckon mission, not that we were going to blow up part of a city and all the citizens in it!” I rush forward, grab either side of the roll by the dowels so he can’t keep moving away from me. “ I did not agree to this.”

“Of course you did,” he says with a sneer, face smudged with dirt and grease from our trip into the undercity. “What, you think those people up there are innocent? They chose their side, now they can pay for it.”

He tries to yank the roll back but I hold tight. My voice is steel. “I. Did. Not. Agree. To. This.”

He jerks the roll out of my hands, glaring daggers at me. “You didn’t have to.” The tone holds no room for argument. “You can do your duty, or die with them.”

He continues moving back, and after a moment I follow him.

I wait until we’re out of sight of the charge, near out of the undercity, when in a moment of trust, he turns his back to me to pick up the pack we’d abandoned.

The shot from my pistol is muffled by the silencer. No echo to sound my betrayal, to sound the alarm for our troop nearby. The shot through his neck is an instant kill. 

His body drops. I catch it, wary of setting off the still-active charge. I’m debating my next move when I first hear, then feel the rumbling ground beneath my feet. There’s a white-hot shot of fear in my chest as I remember the still active bomb below the undercity. I’m debating whether I have time to deactivate it before the earthquake sets them off when the ground above my head is suddenly peeled back, as if the crust of the city were nothing but a thin layer of wrapping paper around me. I dodge rocks and bits of steel as debris falls.

When the sunlight strikes my eyes, I turn my face upwards to face the God I knew had found me.

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: A Space Between the Stars

“You’re as dumb as an ox, Cam.”

The other kids, his teachers, his parents, his best friend- they were all in agreement.

They weren’t wrong, he’d think. Cam imagined the cheerleaders, the jocks, the geniuses of his high school as stars of a constellation, each their own bright light. People like him, people who were as dumb as an ox, were only the space between the stars.

But Cam wasn’t going to stay that way. He didn’t know what, but he knew he was meant for something. Something great. Something his little town had never seen.

As he grew into his twenties and his picked up shifts at the grocery store became full-time employment, this belief never waned. He would be something someday. So he paid his dues- he stocked beer and toiletries, swept floors, and asked his peers to ‘have a nice day’ in the most pleasant and hopeful tone that he could muster.

When his thirties came, the thought became a mantra. He knew he was meant for something. And when it came, he would show the world he wasn’t just empty space.

His thirties flew by, and his forties hit like a sledgehammer. His mantra became more desperate, and the desperation was plain on his face. In his drinking. In his failed relationships.

By the time his fifties came, he hadn’t thought about his childish dreams in some years. He was too old now, he thought, too jaded. Too worn down for hope to be anything but a fantasy. He looked on at the youth wasting away their lives on their iPhones and swept the floor of the grocery store he still worked at.

At 60 years old, Cam was staring at Orion in the driver’s seat of his pickup, moments before he’d been ready to turn the engine over when something occurred to him.

He’d been waiting too long.

What if he took what he longed for?

This is where our story changes. Not in the narrative, the subject, the point of view. Cam didn’t become an artist, a writer, a Hollywood star. Instead, Cam did what Cam did best.

The following day, Cam put on a smile and asked the young cashier how her new baby was doing. He helped an older woman reach a jar off the top shelf- after all, Cam may be as dumb as an ox but he was also six foot two. He whistled as he swept the tile floor, making a toddler walking by giggle.

And Cam knew at that moment he’d become something.

Some people spend their lifetimes finding the place they’re meant to be, the person they’re meant to be.

We are all giants just waiting to stop looking at the ground.

Look instead to the stars.

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: Enough About Love

Their footsteps echoed on the steel floor beneath them, a metal clang swallowed by the empty streets. It was morning yet, the sun barely risen, the pinks and oranges reflected back from the galvanized walkway.

It’s a fine morning, they think, all the better for its silence.

Even the shopkeepers kept their signs on ‘closed’ this time of day, no need for morning services. With biological immortality, the need for breakfast and early morning jogs had become a matter of choice rather than an imperative, a notion that shopkeepers were less and less willing to cater to.

But that was okay with the traveler. They liked the peace and quiet.

They slowed in front of a two-story building, coated in two-toned checkered steel. Despite the sun’s rays, the metal siding was cool to the touch as they tapped the voice box next to the doorway. There was a delay, then the door opened up to the sight of their mother, still in their nightclothes.

“I brought you some food, mother, for the party tonight,” they said, knowing not to expect much in the way of conversation this early in the day.

Mother nodded and reached for the canvas bags, set them inside the doorway before turning to their child with a frown. “And what of your date?” she asked with trepidation. “How did it go?” It was an old conversation they’d had many times on their mother’s doorstep.

“There was no such date,” they reply. “And there never will be.”

Their mother shakes her head and rubs at her crusted eyes. “I don’t understand. You’ve been given their name, why would you not want happiness?”

They shrug and refuse to meet their mother’s gaze. “I’m happy enough. I’ve heard enough about love.”

Mother sighs and leans forward to give their child a warm hug. “I just want you to be happy,” their mother says, but they know not how to explain.

Later, nestled in blankets in front of a multimedia screen, their thirteen-year-old dog on their lap, they smile remembering.

An end to death. An end to war. An end to famine, sickness, persecution, and the most important of them all, an end to heartbreak. That is what the future of humanity promised. All it took was a fingerprint, and your soulmate could be found.

Their mother had tricked them into providing the fingerprint, but no trick could make them contact their other half.

“What have you against love?” their friend had asked before kissing her boyfriend. They’d separated after a moment, and she’d asked, “Why wouldn’t you want to be happy?”

“I’ve heard enough about love,” they’d replied in their quiet way, smile still soft.

Because the promise of humanity was a lie, but not one they would mourn.

There had been no other half.

There is only the love they have, and what they choose to do with it.

After all, they have enough love.

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: Prince of Glass

This flash fiction is a love story to my wife, who passed away suddenly almost three years ago. She was a huge fan of Fall Out Boy, but passed away before their newest album,  Mania, was released. She would have loved the album, so I wanted to include snippets of my favorite lyrics to pay homage to a band that inspired her so much.

 


 

I’m just young enough to still believe but young enough not to know what to believe in.”

The first words I remember telling you are branded in my memory. The fire of youth burned in us both, but the flames only licked at ashes around us. You understood what I meant. The light in your eyes was the brightness of stained glass. 

I’d learn another day, another month, another year later as we lay in bed, curled under throw blankets and heads drowning in your soft pillows, that you felt it then. When ‘I’ had become ‘we.’

“I knew it had to be you then. You’re just the last of the real ones.”

That’s how memory goes, isn’t it? We remember the moments, but the whole, like a forest, is lost in the trees.

I remember the first time I knew I was in love.

You drain the fear from me,” I had thought as I walked at your side.

That was before. Before I wondered about the things that you do in the name of what you love. What happens when together becomes the one that was lost and the one that was left behind.

In truth, some princes don’t become kings. Some fairytales are never told, and others quake in the face of life and tragedy.

Those days after you died, all those who loved and supported me concrete pillars around me, it all felt dim. There’s nothing more cruel than to be loved by everybody but you. To know that tomorrow will rise without you in it.

But you only get what you grieve. To love, be loved, is to have and lose.

As the years went on, the distance between us, it sharpens me like a knife. The world tried to burn all the mercy out of me. I became hardened and cold, and for a while, everything felt like thorns in my chest. A frosted glass instead of the beautiful rose windows I’d come to love when you were with me.

I’m struggling to exist with you and without you. I can’t bear the memories, but their absence would leave me empty, and I can’t stand the idea of losing what little is left of you.

It’s like I woke up on the wrong side of reality. Like there’s no discernable explanation for how you could exist one moment and not the next. How there can be a world where you’re there, and then one where you’re not.

I’m looking through pieces of broken hourglass, trying to get it all back. Put it back together but the shards cut at my hands, and as the sharp pain raches my nerves the pain leaves me shaken.

The only comfort is the certainty that if I can live through this, I can do anything

If I can take the broken pieces of glass, bend the metal of my nerve and determination into some semblance of a frame, I can make beauty from broken glass.

If I can only.

<Back to Flash Fiction>

Flash Fiction: Demon Inside

It grips me in a chokehold, the breath hanging suspended in my throat.

I let the tears fall like a downpour. It’s a wasted effort to hold them backit takes so much of me to focus on breathing. The rhythm of in and out is stuttered by hiccuped sobs.

I’m in this same room, the same bed. The same feeling, like a flash flood.

Distant memories hold themselves up like strips of film in the light. My eyes track the memories at the same time my body understands that the world is not so filled with beauty anymore. Not so filled with that person in my memories, but rather there’s a demon-shaped hole where they should be.

The following day, I go to the craft store with a singular purpose. I find the woodworking aisle, filled with unpainted slabs of wood in different shapes; hearts, circles, frames. There’s a box about six inches square, with a small metal latch.

I debate if I should paint it, but decide that would be a deed for another day. For now, my only worry is getting it out of me.

The next time I feel a fit coming on, I rush to my room where it is perched on my dresser. I grab it in cupped hands, sit cross-legged on the bed. I unlatch it, baring the raw wood inside.

I let the demon out.

It pours out of me in tears, choking sobs, hands clenched tight. I focus everything into putting the demon inside that perfect little box.

When I’m done, chest heaving with no sobs left to give, I shut it. Close the latch. Place it back on my dresser.

I do this for days. Weeks. Months. I do this for a year before one day, I see the box and know that it is time to paint it.

I scrounge up every penny I can because I need to do this right. I paint it glossy black. When that is dry, I take a brush with delicate gold leaf paint and create sprawling vines from the latch that crawl over the edges.

At the very top, I paint in scrawling letters: Memorandum Est.

The box sits on my dresser for a week before I feel the need to exorcise the demon again. The process of bringing it out takes more effort as the months go by, but leaves me shuddering to my bones every time.

Until one day, I look up at the dresser and don’t feel the need to exorcise it at all. Instead, there is something else I know I must do.

I take the box and sit on the bed, my back along the headboard. I stare at the box in my hand, tracing the letters with my fingers, the vines with my eyes. I unlatch the brass, pulling the lid of the box back.

It’s time to heal.

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