Flash-Fried Fiction

IMG_2749LeavesWe didn’t didn’t completely break JD Mader’s blog this week, but we did succeed at bending it at an uncomfortable angle. Maybe next time. Here are four of my entries. It’s good to stretch a little. Even if the end result doesn’t turn out the way you intended. As usual, only lightly edited for your protection.


The prime directive cannot be disobeyed. I must not interfere. Even though the tiny creature feeds golden thread with pinprick feet toward the twitching whiskers and tail, it is not in my purview to stop it. I can distract for only so long with ear scratches and gentle murmurs, but the instinct must be honored, the shiny object glittering in the sun as it spins toward oblivion must be hunted. Physics does its work; gravity and tensile strength meet the swipe of a claw, shredding hours of labor. Pinprick feet scurry away; the work must be recreated, the silk spooled out, the dance begun again.


I am sorry for the furniture I’ve bumped into, the grocery carts that have bruised my shins, the men who have yelled rude things to me on the street. I am sorry for the weather, and for the lack of money in the savings account, and the fact that I ate all the cookies. Again. I am sorry for not being the kind of wife your mother thought I should have been, for not wanting jewelry and clothing, for not training you like I should have from the start. I’m sorry for taking too much oxygen, for leaving those dead skin cells in the carpet, for the mess I will make when I’ve left it all behind.


I want to call you, but the last contact I have was seven addresses ago, seven sets of liquor store cartons ago, so I don’t even begin to know where to find you now. I want to say that what happened between us was nobody’s fault. That time was our enemy and what we started based on some adolescent ideal of what love should have been like was a Madison Avenue wet dream. That because I was broken and you were broken, we were trained to believe that our shattered fragmented edges would fit well together in a kind of bloody kiss of a jigsaw puzzle when all they did was poke and stab and tear at the raw wounds left behind. You are nothing but pixels to me now, but in that postage-stamp representation, you look content, buffed soft and comfortable by the woman who was meant to polish your jagged edges, and not the girl who didn’t know how sandpaper worked.


Too young to know better, the couple mortgaged away their future on Halloween night. The realtor had set a bowl of candy next to the paperwork, a fitting metaphor, she thought, the way they’d been slowly lured like the proverbial frog in the pot of hot water. Show them the pretty pictures, talk about the American dream, talk about starting a family and don’t you want a piece of that, what your parents worked so hard to hold, what your grandparents came to this country to provide for you? Sign the papers. Then off to stand in front of the odd structure as the cold sun dipped below the horizon. The house covered in fallen leaves, the house that hadn’t felt an exhale in two years, hadn’t heard the laughter of a child or the bark of a dog begging to be let outside. The couple looked at each other. Grabbed a box of trash bags from the back of their rusted-out Jeep, and began pushing leaves into piles to be bagged and dragged into the woods. The piles were too tempting, the stress of the day too great, and as the sun disappeared, they were leaping into them like kids, like kids who’d signed their lives away but it hadn’t sunk in yet, the ink still wet, the checks not cashed, and handfuls of candy from the bowls in their coat pockets, along with crushed autumn leaves.

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